Magic City—Retro Crime Heaven?

Posted: April 12, 2012 in TV Crime
Tags: , , , , , ,

Jeffery Dean Morgan, Magic City

Following the untimely demise of horse killing crime show Luck there is a new pretender for the premium cable crime-crown,  Magic City from Starz Channel.

Miami Beach 1959 and Ike Evans is bringing in the New Year as the owner of the palatial seafront hotel Miramar.

As Castro’s Cuba falls, glamor, sleaze and excess are in full effect: The Kennedys, The Mob and the CIA are all calling room service. Frank Sinatra is topping the bill in the ballroom. As America’s most fabulous decade draws to a close life couldn’t be better.

But poor Ike has problems. He has financed his dream of luxury hotel ownership with the help of sleeping partner Ben ‘The Butcher’ Diamond, played to marvelous effect by Danny Huston. Just how nasty is Diamond? He blasts his girlfriend’s dog in the head, because it’s barking is interrupting a phone conversation, after which he returns to the telephone and calmly resumes talking as if nothing has happened. That nasty. Worse for Ike, his priapic gigolo son Stevie is shtupping The Butcher’s girl. Crimezine predicts it will end in tears or concrete shoes—maybe both.

Magic City is visually stunning: classic cars, classic fifties styling and sundrenched retro lifestyle shots abound, as does gratuitous nudity and the producers of this show waste no opportunity to shoe-horn  T&A shots in where ever possible. Now Crimezine appreciates gratuitous T&A as much as, if not more than Hotel Miramar’s whiskey drenched hi-rollers, but we suspect that the titillation may be an attempt to distract form the shows more obvious failings.

The script for example has a bonktastic seventies soap-opera vibe that sits uneasily with its crimetime aspirations. It is possible to watch long sections of this show and forget there is a crime angle here at all, which is a pity, as the crime angle is a good one and while fifties hotel crime has been done before, a new take is always welcome here at Crimezine HQ.

Magic City’s Ike Evans reminds Crimezine of the Sam “Ace” Rothstein character played by Robert De Niro in the 1995 Scorsese film Casino, which was in turn based on the true tale of legendary Stardust proprietor and Mob associate Frank “Lefty” Rosenthal. Not necessarily a problem you might think—but the history of the South Florida Mob—of Meyer Lansky and Santo Trafficante—looms large over this show and divergent details annoy: for example, would Ben Diamond really murder a Union organizer for Ike Evans, when the mobs influence with unions was legendary during this period—small point maybe, but one that jangles.

Crimeziners should give this show a go. Check out the first three episodes for free at the link below. Let us know what you think.


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