Magic City: Season 1

| October 2, 2012

The Miramar is the most luxurious hotel in Miami.  It has everything you could ever want:  huge rooms, full bar, and a giant swimming pool with naked women swimming in it.  Set in the late 1950s, Magic City follows the exploits of the Miramar’s manager, Ike Evans (Jeffrey Dean Morgan).  He lives at the hotel with his young Cuban wife Vera (Olga Kurylenko), two sons Stevie (Steven Strait) and Danny (Christian Cooke), and teenage daughter Lauren (Taylor Blackwell).  Evans is the best at what he does – keeping the Miramar on top, while keeping his silent partner, Ben “The Butcher” Diamond (Danny Huston), as silent as possible.

Huston is definitely the stand-out performance of the series.  In a lot of ways he’s a standard gangster archetype, which should make his performance extremely boring to watch, except for the fact that he is so compelling and terrifying throughout this first season that it’s impossible not to be hypnotized by the character.  The Butcher’s beautiful wife Lily (Jessica Marais) is having an affair with Stevie Evans and the entire storyline is a burning fuse, ready to explode with the Butcher’s wrath.  It’s definitely the most intense and well-executed aspect of the series and makes this show worth your time.

There have been a lot of these period TV shows in the past few years.  It seems like since the premiere of Mad Men, other networks have been trying to capture the same lightning in a bottle.  But as we know, lightning doesn’t strike the same spot twice.  The recent failures of The Playboy Club, and Pan Am can attest to this idea.  Probably the most successful realistic period drama in recent memory is Boardwalk Empire, which feels more closely connected to Magic City than any of the others.  Although, Ike Evans isn’t a gangster like most of the characters in Boardwalk Empire.  He’s in that vein, and certainly not afraid to get his hands dirty to maintain his lifestyle, but at his core he’s a decent guy, and that makes him more interesting to watch than a lot of characters in other period dramas.  There’s something about these shows being so far removed from our own time period that the characters often feel too alien; too difficult to sympathize with. Jeffrey Dean Morgan achieves a nice balance in Evans; being an industrious, tough man of the ‘50s, and being an actual human being.

Special Features include a series of featurettes looking at various aspects of the show.  One looks at the show itself, another at the various vintage cars used in the show, and another at the music of the 50s.

Available on Blu-ray and DVD from Anchor Bay Entertainment on October 2.

About the Author:

Joe Ketchum Joe Sanders is a podcaster, playwright, and college instructor in Kalamazoo, MI. He has a master's degree in playwriting and a bachelor's degree in creative writing from Western Michigan University, where he currently teaches thought and writing, and is the host of the Quote Unquote Guilty podcast, part of the Word Salad Network.
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