Magic City: Season 1
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41 of 48 people found the following review helpful
On the surface, the Starz original drama "Magic City" would seem to have everything. It's not hard to imagine the pitch when creating this adult oriented mob drama: Let's combine the period detail that works so well in "Mad Men" with the gritty gangster vibe that made "The Sopranos" such a success. I'd like to say that I made up these comparisons, but both were used in the aggressive advertising campaign that Starz used to launch the show (so clearly it's a side-by-side that they are comfortable with). But that's part of the problem. Instead of crafting a unique product to wow the audience, "Magic City" is covering some pretty familiar territory with its central themes. The primary plot points are so similar to dozens of other mob related stories that it's almost impossible not to make comparisons. Don't get me wrong, there are tons of great elements within "Magic City" and I think it has the potential (should it return) to develop into something quite grand. As of Season One, though, it is a show that is still finding its way dramatically.

The story of "Magic City" takes place in Miami Beach circa 1959. Ike Evans (Jeffrey Dean Morgan), a visionary hotelier, has just opened the exclusive Miramar Hotel. It's a tumultuous time. Evans is combating an underworld business partner (a great Danny Huston), fending off inquiries from the District Attorney's office, dealing with a crisis in Cuba, opposing unionization, and dealing with a family that all share responsibilities within the resort. It's a great environment for drama. Add that the hotel features talent such as Sinatra (not shown) and hosts gala events for Jackie Kennedy (not shown), and it's an incredible world mixing fact with fiction. There are dozens of characters battling for screen presence, though, within these eight episodes of Season One and the balance can sometimes be out of proportion.

The Good:
Technical Production: Without a doubt, the real star of "Magic City" are its production values. The sets, costume design, cinematography, and musical score rival anything on TV today. The show is absolutely gorgeous!
Danny Huston: Over-the-top and chewing every bit of scenery, when Huston hits the screen--the pulse of the show raises a few notches. As the primary villain, the program is well served by the gleefully unpleasant Huston.

Has Potential:
Cast: I really like the primary cast led by Jeffrey Dean Morgan. Steven Strait as his eldest son carries one of the more interesting story threads with Jessica Marais (as Huston's wife). I also liked Elena Satine as a working girl who gets in over her head as well as supporting turns by Kelly Lynch, Alex Rocco, Matt Ross and Michael Rispoli.
Family Life: The show still hasn't fit Evans' new wife in as effectively as I'd like and moments of domesticity can be either great or momentum draining, still finding a balance.

The Not-so-Good:
Cuban Storyline: Evans' business assistant/employee Yul Vasquez has a wife he's trying to get out of the country, but as he'd never been developed--I found this storyline rather flat.
Young Love: Evans' youngest son (Christian Cooke) is involved with Vasquez's daughter. The story grinds to a halt when the two are together. The young lady in question is the one member of the cast that truly stands out in a negative light with painful and inflectionless line readings. Seriously, she recalls the wooden Sofia Coppola from Godfather III.

I liked "Magic City," I just haven't felt a passion for it yet. I would definitely tune in for a second season if that's an option. It has all the potential in the world, it just needs to refine its storytelling and its characterizations. Technically, it's already one of the best shows on TV--now the writing and plotting need to step up for it to become a powerhouse of adult entertainment. Has potential, but not fully cooked yet. KGHarris, 5/12.
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21 of 24 people found the following review helpful
on May 30, 2012
I'm slightly obsessed with this era anyway, so add great storylines and JDM and I'm sold! One of the things I love most is how they've added in historical figures without actually showing them. It gives the show more mystique. If you tried to show them, the Kennedys for instance, it would be very hard to pull off so it speaks to the show's credit that they involve these characters the way they do. An amazing show and my new favorite!
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12 of 13 people found the following review helpful
on November 13, 2012
Once more cable TV sets out to make a series that hopes to deliver high class drama with low class subject matter. It's something they've come to do well for the most part but not always as effectively as they'd like. This time around the series revolves around the Miami hotel circuit near the end of the fifties and into the sixties, displaying the desire of Hollywood execs to try and capitalize off the success of other shows once more. Once MAD MEN took off and became a hit, suddenly everyone wanted to revisit the early 60s. The network series about Hugh Hefner and the Playboy Empire floundered shortly after it aired and PAN AM didn't even make it through the first season. So how does MAGIC CITY stand?

The story revolves around Ike Evans (Jeffrey Dean Morgan), a man who struggled from the bottom to get to the top. The owner and main driving force behind the Miramar Hotel on the famous beach does whatever he can to make his business succeed. Unfortunately that includes becoming involved with the mob in the form of boss Ben Diamond (Danny Huston).

The time is ripe for mob influence as well with Castro coming into power in Cuba and their hotels/casinos there being lost. They not only want to be involved in the hotels in Miami, they want to take ownership of them from behind the scenes. It's the only way they can with the FBI looking over their shoulder.

Ike sees the potential that the hotels in Miami have. He sees it as more than a simple place to rest yourself on the road to somewhere. This is a resort town in the making with the potential of casinos and high class entertainment much like Vegas which was developing at the same time. But he has problems that he thinks only these mob connections can solve, the first of which is a potential union strike by the hotel employees. With Frank Sinatra set to open on his stage, he can't afford to have them picketing out front. The mob solution of course ends in someone being killed and the body dumped. This plays into several episodes down the line and links Ike into the dealings behind the scenes as well as in front.

The story also involves Ike's sons, one of whom unknowingly begins a rather heated affair with Ben's wife and the other going to college to become involved with law enforcement. Either one has the potential of collapsing the dreams of Ike.

The show does capture the feel and the look of the times. It offers a glittery surface that most people who went their saw without the darker roots at its core. It's those darker roots that develop most of the drama in the show and that keep it interesting.

The acting is well played by all involved. Morgan has become a driving force in the roles he plays. I first saw him in the series SUPERNATURAL and wondered why he wasn't used more. Since then he's had several starring roles and with his turn here as Ike shows that he deserves more. Huston plays the slimy mob boss to perfection. Ruled more by temperamental fits than by sly cunning, Huston's Ben is to be feared first and foremost. He can be outmaneuvered but only if you don't forget that behind that temper is a cunning sense of evil that just might discover more than you want.

While the show is well made and thought out it didn't feel to me that it would be one that would last several seasons and yet season two is already in the works. It will be interesting to see how it plays out. The one thing that did bother me while watching was the reliance on nudity that all cable shows seem to feel the need to resort to. It's as if they feel the only way to let people know that the show is a cable show is to display nude women every so many minutes per episode. While the women on view are lovely isn't there a better use for them in a series than window dressing? I'm sure those who made the series would argue that women at that time in this arena were used for nothing more. For myself I've just grown tired of the same thing being dumped into cable series as nothing more than a way of saying "See? We're a cable series. We have breasts and networks don't. Watch us instead." It doesn't encourage me to watch. The story should be what matters and the focus of the show as well. The so called "window dressing" doesn't get me interested.

That being said there is potential in this show. If they can focus on the important aspects of it and move past the rest then it might be something worth watching. If it continues down this path then it is nothing more that a celebration of T&A with some story thrown in for good measure.
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32 of 39 people found the following review helpful
on April 6, 2012
Obviously the S1 is not out but I have seen the first 3 or 4 episodes.

I like the series VERY much. It's a period piece...late 50's and onward.

The background..clothing...cars...furniture all look fantastic.

All the actors do a great job.

This series has EVERTHING...including Mob characters....and people that swim with the fishies .

Kind of timely considering Man Men is also out there.
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10 of 10 people found the following review helpful
on October 31, 2012
A must see! If you like the gangster genre, this show is for you! Great acting, great storyline, great looking women! Can't beat that!
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
on November 4, 2012
My husband and I pulled an all-nighter because we couldn't quit watching. I highly recommend this first season. The second season is suppose to be back on Starzs in January, 2013 and I can't wait. Great cast, very well acted.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
on November 3, 2012
Magic City was wonderful. It took me all of one evening to see and enjoy it very much. Looking forward to season 2.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
on November 9, 2012
If you liked Mad Men, Damages, Revenge, and The Sopranos, this show's for you. Talk about late 50's, early 60's glamor, suspense and drama, this one has it all, right in Miami Beach, and it gets better with each episode. Music is superb and so are the sets. It takes you right back in time. I wish there were less blatant, raw sexual scenes. Too much, and leaves nothing to the imagination, which is where I like to be. ( and I do love sex and romance, just not so much as in this show. Way over the top, in my opinion )

The only other negative I have about the show, is the main actor, Jeffery Dean Morgan who plays Ike, the main man that owns the faboo hotel on the beach. He needs to have more verve, dynamics and excitement, as his older son possesses,and whom I love to watch. The younger son, really should have been another actor, if they needed him at all, in my opinion.

The girls are plentiful, and beautiful and sexy and so are the cars of that era. Can't wait until the second season. Hope Morgan comes back with more of a masculine touch, however. You know, raw, and unafraid....not so passive, as he was in the first season. The rest of the guys are hot though, especially my favorite, The Butcher, who is Danny Houston, son of John Houston and half-sister to Angelica Houston. This guy can ACT!!! And the writers have really done an A+ job of casting and writing him. He makes the show, in my opinion. :)
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14 of 18 people found the following review helpful
On the surface, the Starz original drama "Magic City" would seem to have everything. It's not hard to imagine the pitch when creating this adult oriented mob drama: Let's combine the period detail that works so well in "Mad Men" with the gritty gangster vibe that made "The Sopranos" such a success. I'd like to say that I made up these comparisons, but both were used in the aggressive advertising campaign that Starz used to launch the show (so clearly it's a side-by-side that they are comfortable with). But that's part of the problem. Instead of crafting a unique product to wow the audience, "Magic City" is covering some pretty familiar territory with its central themes. The primary plot points are so similar to dozens of other mob related stories that it's almost impossible not to make comparisons. Don't get me wrong, there are tons of great elements within "Magic City" and I think it has the potential (should it return) to develop into something quite grand. As of Season One, though, it is a show that is still finding its way dramatically.

The story of "Magic City" takes place in Miami Beach circa 1959. Ike Evans (Jeffrey Dean Morgan), a visionary hotelier, has just opened the exclusive Miramar Hotel. It's a tumultuous time. Evans is combating an underworld business partner (a great Danny Huston), fending off inquiries from the District Attorney's office, dealing with a crisis in Cuba, opposing unionization, and dealing with a family that all share responsibilities within the resort. It's a great environment for drama. Add that the hotel features talent such as Sinatra (not shown) and hosts gala events for Jackie Kennedy (not shown), and it's an incredible world mixing fact with fiction. There are dozens of characters battling for screen presence, though, within these eight episodes of Season One and the balance can sometimes be out of proportion.

The Good:
Technical Production: Without a doubt, the real star of "Magic City" are its production values. The sets, costume design, cinematography, and musical score rival anything on TV today. The show is absolutely gorgeous!
Danny Huston: Over-the-top and chewing every bit of scenery, when Huston hits the screen--the pulse of the show raises a few notches. As the primary villain, the program is well served by the gleefully unpleasant Huston.

Has Potential:
Cast: I really like the primary cast led by Jeffrey Dean Morgan. Steven Strait as his eldest son carries one of the more interesting story threads with Jessica Marais (as Huston's wife). I also liked Elena Satine as a working girl who gets in over her head as well as supporting turns by Kelly Lynch, Alex Rocco, Matt Ross and Michael Rispoli.
Family Life: The show still hasn't fit Evans' new wife in as effectively as I'd like and moments of domesticity can be either great or momentum draining, still finding a balance.

The Not-so-Good:
Cuban Storyline: Evans' business assistant/employee Yul Vasquez has a wife he's trying to get out of the country, but as he'd never been developed--I found this storyline rather flat.
Young Love: Evans' youngest son (Christian Cooke) is involved with Vasquez's daughter. The story grinds to a halt when the two are together. The young lady in question is the one member of the cast that truly stands out in a negative light with painful and inflectionless line readings. Seriously, she recalls the wooden Sofia Coppola from Godfather III.

I liked "Magic City," I just haven't felt a passion for it yet. I would definitely tune in for a second season if that's an option. It has all the potential in the world, it just needs to refine its storytelling and its characterizations. Technically, it's already one of the best shows on TV--now the writing and plotting need to step up for it to become a powerhouse of adult entertainment. Has potential, but not fully cooked yet. KGHarris, 5/12.
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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
VINE VOICEon October 28, 2012
I suspect that the inspiration of this show is "Mad Men" and perhaps "Boardwalk Empire" in that it centers around a picturesque time (just as the Kennedy-Camelot was about to start) and in a scenic area (Miami Beach). Another similarity is that the show centers around a "man with a dream" in this case, Ike Evans (played by Jeffrey Dean Morgan) who runs the oh, so photogenic hotel that is the epicenter of the show.

There are pluses and minuses to "Magic City"

On the plus side:

-Jeffrey Dean Morgan is a charismatic and sympathetic lead as the hotelier, who has essentially made a deal with the devil.

-John Huston plays the villain, Ben Diamond, with a creepy languid menace

-The 1950s of Miami Beach is vividly brought back to life both in terms of scenery and background.

-The women in the show are gorgeous and stunningly dressed.

On the minus side:

-The actors playing the sons of Ike are pretty much non-entities (vapid pretty boys).

-Some of the plot-lines are truly predictable (like when one of Ike's sons starts sleeping with Diamond's wife and takes "souvenir" photos of their relationship...is it any great surprise that those photos fall into the wrong hands?

-Some of the sex scenes are pretty gratuitous.

With this said, I'm looking forward to next season, but not with the same anticipation that I'd have over "Boardwalk Empire" or "Breaking Bad."
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