TV Review: “Magic City” – Where’s the Magic?

Written by Mitchell B June 13, 2012

“Magic City”, currently airing Fridays on Starz, is another show following the current trend of period dramas (“Mad Men”, “The Playboy Club”, “Pan Am”). It seems every network wants to capitalize on the success of “Mad Men”, but so far none have been able to live up to AMC’s award winning drama. “The Playboy Club” was axed after just three episodes, and “Pan Am” recently suffered the same fate. ““Magic City”” has already been picked up for a second season, but don’t let that fool you; Starz renewed it before a single episode even aired.

If there’s one thing “Magic City” has going for it it’s the eye candy. Depending on what you look for in a television show, this may be a good or bad thing. On one hand, the production values are great. The hotel set-pieces all look extravagant and really speak to the grandiose nature of the Miramar Hotel, which is the main setting of the show. On the other hand, you’ve got a cast of attractive people, all dressed to the nines. The problem with this, however, is that it appears acting ability was sacrificed for sex appeal. Olga Kurylenko, who many will remember as the sexy Bond girl in “Quantum of Solace”, is unfortunately not that gifted an actress, and it comes across in some of the emotional scenes she attempts. There are, however, a couple of highlights in this cast.

The only real reason I can see to consistently watch “Magic City” is Jeffrey Dean Morgan, who plays Ike Evans, owner of the Miramar and lead of the series. Morgan is charismatic in the role, channeling both Don Draper and a little Nucky Thompson as well. He’s an interesting combination of both; equal parts smooth-talking ladies’ man and cold-blooded gangster. Morgan makes every scene he is in that much better. Unfortunately, Morgan’s abilities also highlight the weaknesses in the rest of the cast. The only other actor up to Morgan’s standards is Danny Huston, who is also very good as the villainous ‘Butcher’.


“A mostly lackluster affair, filled with attractive but incapable actors”

‘The Butcher’ character is one who should be incredibly menacing and fear-inducing, but series creator and writer Mitch Glazer has given us a paint-by-numbers villain. Huston does well with what he’s given, but the problem with The Butcher is that he’s predictable. A strong villain comes from unpredictability – we love to watch them because we don’t know what they might do to shock us next. The most glaring example of The Butcher’s predictability is a sequence where he shoots his own dog. While on the phone, his dog begins barking and so he gets his gun from a drawer, walks outside, walks past the pool, finds the dog, and shoots it. There’s no shock value or surprise because as soon we hear the dog barking we know exactly what is going to happen.

Apart from Jeffrey Dean Morgan, “Magic City” fails to conjure up any real magic. Instead it is a mostly lackluster affair, filled with attractive but incapable actors. There is very little plot to follow and the characters are mostly one-note and boring. Unfortunately Jeffrey Dean Morgan’s stellar performance and charm are not enough to make “Magic City” worth your time.

My Rating: 6/10

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