Tuesday, April 10, 2012
magic city

I watched the first three episodes of the new series called "Magic City" on the Starz channel. It's about a guy who owns a very big posh Hotel in Miami Beach in 1959. It is---so far---okay. Not great, but pretty good, in my opinion. In their favor, they certainly tried to connect to that time and place in a big way. And so far, I think they have succeeded in that part of the endeavour. It looks like Miami Beach in the 1950's. Jeffrey Dean Morgan, (Remember him from 'Grey's Anatomy'?) is the Star/Owner of this very elaborate and somewhat gaudy Hotel--which was how all the hotels were, back then....This is when Miami Beach was kind of like what the Las Vegas of 10 years hence would be---only, without the legal gambling.....I remember Miami Beach from those early 1950's....So many exotic overdecorated Hotels were being built---The Fountainbleu; The Eden Roc. etc., etc., etc. "Ike", AKA Isaac Evans, (Jeffrey Dean Morgan), owns one of these very high-end palaces, and to hear him tell it---he scratched and clawed his way to get there, and we don't doubt it. Ike and his family are the main people in this series--his 2nd wife, his two grown sons, and, as the series begins, his little daughter who is about to have her Bat Mitzvah. Interesting, yes. Did it grab me? Well, not so far. (see 2nd picture from the top....And, if memory serves, wherever and whenever there were Hotel Nightclubs and Liquor, back-in-the-day, there were always 'the wise guys' or as they are sometimes called, 'the mob'. It's just the way business was run and done, back-in-the-day. Where this show is going and how much we will care about Ike Evans and his family, will very much depend on the redeeming factors of so many of the rather sleaze-baggy people who dominate and inhabit this series. So far, it gets low marks from me in the 'caring' department.Both of Ike' sons seem pretty bland to me, and one of them, rather stupid, as well....his older son Stevie does these incredibly dumb reckless things in those first three episodes---things, that could get him Killed by the Big Boss, played by the wonderfully talented Danny Houston, who's character is scarier then "hell"---he shoots and kills his new wife's dog because the dog is barking too loud while he, the Danny Houston-Mob-Character, is on the phone....Shockingly Harsh, to say the least---and, besides that, we are led to believe he has probably killed his first two wives--and has just now married again as this series opens.His young and seemingly very promiscuous new wife, is already catting about with Ike's son Stevie....! Sounds like a Soap Opera, doesn't it? Well, there's much more which I won't go into now right now. I am very interested to see how this series plays out. The biggest thing to recommend this new series is the "period" and some of the performances, and the fact that it is NOT a "reality" series. (Deliver me from all these Kardashian-like series..PLEASE....!!!). I know I'm from another time...but I STILL want to see "scripted" series, like "MAD MEN"...(Thank God it is finally back after 17 months....)... I really want this new series "Magic City" to succeed...but, I'm going to need more from it than I've seen so far.......I don't think any series can survive on 'nostalgia' alone. We need more from "Magic City" than being true to the look of the period. One of the things that made the "The Sopranos" such a great series right from the get-go, was that we cared about that family. We cared about Tony and Carmella and their children. I'm just not sure I can care about Ike and his family. I hope I can--but after three episodes...it's still not happening....With all that's going on in this series, it still feels kind of lifeless. Not a good thing. Just my opinion, of course.One side effect for me: Watching this series brought back some memories of the Miami Beach in the early 1950's that I knew and experienced----I went there a couple of times during those years, and stayed at a couple of those big hotels.....This was long after my earlier Miami Beach life, as a child, when, as a family, we spent the winters there, going to school, of course, and living in the house on Biscayne Bay that my parents owned at the time. This was long before there were so very many Hotels on the Beach....Back then, the most famous Beach Hotel was The Roney Plaza.....and of course, The Nautilus Hotel, which was down the street from our house. The people who came to The Nautilus, arrived on their Yachts, and docked them right there at The Nautilus' private Marina. It was quite a Hotel. And believe it or not, back then, in the 1930's, it was 'Restricted'.One year in the early 1950's, two of my best friends and I decided to go to Miami Beach for a week. We splurged, and stayed at The Sans Souci, which was "the" Hotel of the moment, and quite beautiful and expensive, 'in season'. The three of us shared a room that was really a gorgeous setting. All three beds faced the magnificent Atlantic Ocean---and the beautiful sandy beach---what a view! It was costly, but with the three of us sharing it, we felt it was well worth it.Unfortunately, I proceeded to get Pneumonia within a day or so of our arrival....(My lungs already being compromised even back then....). The House Doctor, there at the Hotel, wanted to put me in the Hospital...I refused. I figured, staying in the Hotel I would have everything I needed, including first class Room Service, and since it was okay with my two friends, my week was not spent in a lonely Hospital or on the Beautiful Beach getting a tan, but in bed downing a lot of Chicken Soup and Penicillin....So much for experiencing the Glamorous life of Miami Beach in the 1950's....! I hope things work out better for the people in "Magic City", but I have a feeling, it won't. And what ails them will not be able to be cured by Penicillin----in fact, what ails them will no doubt put them in the Atlantic Ocean wearing cement boots. Stay Tuned........

More To Come.......

had this to say:

So wild that you posted this because we just watched the first episode on Saturday and I immediately thought of you and figured (correctly, it seems!) that you would be familiar with the Miami beach of that period. I was wondering if you had seen it and what you thought. My impression of the first episode was 1) it was nice visually 2) some of the stories were interesting and 3) it seemed a little too much like a soap opera.
Hopefully it will improve, because I do like the look of it.

Tuesday, April 10, 2012 at 3:19:00 AM PDT 

Blogger Pat
had this to say:

I also would enjoy the nostalgia but - as you say nostalgia is not enough and the standard set by 'Mad Men' and 'The Sopranos' is through the ceiling.
I look forward to your next crit.
I have just received the second series of 'Breaking Bad.' and am rationing my viewing so as not to 'eat it all up at once.'
You have done well to survive all that smoky air for all those years.
Thank goodness we've learned to keep the air cleaner.

Tuesday, April 10, 2012 at 4:26:00 AM PDT 

Anonymous Anonymous
had this to say:

"Mad Men In Miami" without the story. Doesn't sound very promising.


Tuesday, April 10, 2012 at 6:15:00 AM PDT 

had this to say:

ummm, why yes I do remember Jeffrey Dean Anderson from Grays Anatomy! (got the sweats just remembering that! LOL too gorgeous!) I'd probably watch anything he was in lol.. just for eye candy if nothing else! lol I hope the show is a good one for you though!

Tuesday, April 10, 2012 at 9:34:00 AM PDT 

had this to say:

Thanks for the review -- it doesn't sound like my cuppa but the scenery is great!!

Tuesday, April 10, 2012 at 9:45:00 AM PDT 

Blogger VV
had this to say:

I have never heard of this show or seen promos for it. I will wait for you to see a few more episodes and report back before I go looking for it.

Tuesday, April 10, 2012 at 9:55:00 AM PDT 

had this to say:

Thanks for your visit ...even through the back door! I give up on friggin blogger...giving me a headache...this show sounds interesting, but the violence turns me off...especially with animals! Have you been watching
“George Gently” i hope I got that right, Sunday at 9pm pbs. fabulous! love the actors in it...it also has England in the 60s down pat...great acting, interesting stories...xx to you Naomi...cynthia

Tuesday, April 10, 2012 at 11:26:00 AM PDT 

had this to say:

I've been to Miami once and loved it, but i didn't really stay long enough to get a real feel for the place.

Btw I saw The Iron Lady a few days ago and LOVED it. I wasn't sure I would but I thought it was an excellent film!

Tuesday, April 10, 2012 at 4:22:00 PM PDT 

had this to say:

Sorry to hear your fancy 50s Miami Beach hotel experience wasn't as good as it could've been, but yes, it was better than being in a hospital room by yourself.

I love how much history you've shared about my city...things I didn't know, and I wish I could've experienced it back in the day when it was full of a different kind of excitement...and much classier, I think.

Funny, my husband was just commenting on how everything about Miami has the word, "magic," in it...like they're really trying to promote it as "the magic city." For some reason, it makes me think of Orlando, not Miami (not yet anyway)...with The Magic Kingdom, the Orlando Magic basketball team, etc.

I will check out the show when it's on again...if I'm home. I've heard good things about it. Sorry you're not thrilled with it.

Love and hugs to you, amiga! Keep in touch. xo

Tuesday, April 10, 2012 at 6:10:00 PM PDT 

had this to say:

Excellent post, Naomi!

Wednesday, April 11, 2012 at 10:18:00 AM PDT 

had this to say:

Your making me nostalgic for the 50's. I went to Miami on a bus from Hialeah where I was staying with my grandparents who moved there to be near the races. My sister and I wanted to go to the beach. it was about 1966 and all I can remember is it was big, we got lost and there were so many old people, at least that was how we saw it then.

I finally found a network show (that's all I have) that I like enough to follow! I haven't found one since West Wing and Studio ?. It's called Awake and is about this guy that either lost his son or his wife. He lives in two realities and wakes up in either one. Either his wife is dead and he lives with his son or the the other way around. He can't tell which is real or not and has to psychiatrists. The psychology/dream stuff is right up my alley. He's a cop and works on two different cases each week and one gives clues to the other, like a dream. I like the actor too but forget his name.

Wednesday, April 11, 2012 at 8:24:00 PM PDT 

had this to say:

Well, I guess if you have to be laid up in be somewhere sick, that kind of hotel with a great view is the place to do it!

Wednesday, April 11, 2012 at 8:58:00 PM PDT 

had this to say:

Oh -- I just saw the word STARZ and got envious. When we were full-time RVers we had the DISH and all those lovely extra channels, but we dropped it when we settled down more (cable is included in our space rent, so can't really justify the $$ anymore)...but it's just basic cable (sob) ...) I do get a lot more reading and blogging (especially blogging) done now, since basic TV basically stinks.
I loved the Sopranos, so I sure would give this series a chance if I could.

Thursday, April 12, 2012 at 2:09:00 PM PDT 

had this to say:

It always seems a neat side effect when I can watch something that inspires other memories. We don't get Starz anymore; so won't be checking it out unless it becomes successful and goes onto Netflix. If it doesn't get better, it doesn't sound as though it'd be worth our while.

Thursday, April 12, 2012 at 4:54:00 PM PDT 

had this to say:

I have this on my DVR, haven't watched it yet
I really like Jeffrey Dean Morgan - he's so sexy, I love his scruffy-ness :)
He was on Craig Ferguson's show and said they were using an older camera style to get the warmer feel to the scenes

your story reminded me of when I first when to Greece and got deadly ill on the plane - on the way there! I spent nearly the entire trip in my room or on the balcony wrapped in a blanket
the housekeepers kept checking on me and asking - "Doctor?, we get Doctor?"

Thursday, April 12, 2012 at 7:12:00 PM PDT 

had this to say:

Hi Naomi! I have never seen or heard of this one. I don't get the channel you mentioned either. I do enjoy watching shows back from earlier periods. Makes it far more interesting. I agree with you about being delivered from the reality shows!! I don't see how they make it. They are of no interest to me, but obviously they are to others!

I have never been to Miami, but I'm sure it was wonderful and especially in the 50's! Imagine a hotel having a House Doctor!!

Hugs to you dear lady. Hope you are doing well!xxoxx

Thursday, April 12, 2012 at 8:24:00 PM PDT 

had this to say:

I expect we will eventually get this over here in Blighty.

I've visited the more modern Miami Beach and seen the many hotels from an earlier era. It's still not difficult to imagine quite a 'scene' there too and fascinating to read your stories of the evolving area.

Based upon your review, what I can't understand is how they get the money to make something like this and then somehow forget to put enough interest into the actual scripting.

It's also amusing how series go in waves - Its not that long since a different series about an east coast American town with hotels and casinos set in Atlantic City...

Friday, April 13, 2012 at 3:20:00 AM PDT 

had this to say:

Aww gee, I don't get Starz. I do remember Jeffrey Dean Morgan. I LOVED him and hated when he died on GA.
That was some experience you had. Glad it wasn't any worse.
In the late 60's and 70's, my dates used to take me down to Miami for the great shows they had in those hotels. That was a sign that they were trying to impress me.

Friday, April 13, 2012 at 5:58:00 AM PDT 

had this to say:

oh, dear naomi! how i love dropping by your place for all these FABulous stories of yesteryear in all its glory [and sometimes not so glorious] - and your take on the latest tries of tv and the movies, just wonderful to read! i've not seen magic city yet but now i really must try it just, as you say, for its period authenticity - a period which i remember all so swell - and i, like so many other females i'm sure, did so like the character played by JDM on GA - that soft scruffy sexy character - in any event, your take on the other series is so right on - mad men and sopranos - and should i NEVER hear/see a K person again, i shall be all the better for it! save me from all the real-life trash -

and then, your own stories, lady, lend so much more than any series or soap possibly could - i can just see you and your girlfriends in that hotel - penicillin and all!! bless your heart!!!

thanks so very much for such entertaining posts, dear friend! they rate a walk down the life's red carpet for sure! ;)

Saturday, April 14, 2012 at 9:15:00 AM PDT 

had this to say:

We don't get Starz either and I think I might like that show. I sure do like JDM!! He was terrific on Grey's Anatomy.

Saturday, April 14, 2012 at 7:47:00 PM PDT 

had this to say:

I don't get Starz. But I do remember JDM on Grey's Anatomy. He was in that movie PS I Love You, too.

Those Kardashian reality shows need to stop. Seriously. TV is just not as good as it used to be. I have been very happy to have Mad Men back - finally!

Saturday, April 14, 2012 at 11:57:00 PM PDT 

had this to say:

Love your reviews Naomi! You did a great post here, as always. Thanks for sharing.
Love so much reading your lovely memories too!
I would love to know Miami... I have never visited USA either (Carlos, Sofia and Fernando did) and I have never heard of this show too...

I hope you have a pleasant Sunday!
Many hugs!

Sunday, April 15, 2012 at 7:05:00 AM PDT 

had this to say:

This is a great entertaining review! I'd be tempted to watch a few episodes of the show since it's set in the fifties. I have antenna TV by choice, receive some Starz programs, but don't recall seeing this one. Sounds like they're trying to combine the Sopranos and Mad Men.

I spent a short overnite in Miami in the fifties. What I most remember as I strolled outside the night before my flight was incredibly heavy humid air. Understood later a hurricane came in a few hours after my flight departed the next morning.

I look forward to this season's Mad Men going to DVD as I've thoroughly enjoyed the preceding episodes.

Sunday, April 15, 2012 at 8:31:00 PM PDT 

had this to say:

Game of Thrones is more my ticket- but I'm enjoying Magic City enough to hit the record button. GCB- made it through 2 episodes and just can't get interested.

The problem with reality shows is that they are scripted- then pretend not to be. I would rather read a parts manual for a car I don't want to own than watch reality TV. I've had to a couple times- relatives on- but I find they are better with the sound off. Good sets and costumes);-

Monday, April 16, 2012 at 7:46:00 PM PDT 

had this to say:

I'm familiar with the Sans Souci, but never stayed there. However, I stayed across the street a couple times at the Saxony. Both the Sans Souci and Saxony eventually became Kosher hotels, drawing in a Kosher crowd...especially for Passover. Although it was the late eighties when I went to the hotel, it was clear to see that thirty years earlier, it was a classy hotel, as you said.
Thanks for sharing Miami Beach with us!

Friday, April 20, 2012 at 8:42:00 AM PDT 

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