Magic City: Greetings from Biscayne Bay

Magic City S01E01: “The Year of the Fin”

Miami Beach, 1958: warm sun, hot babes, dead bodies floating in the bay—what more could you want?

Ike Evans, owner of the fabulous beachfront Miramar Playa hotel, could do without the bodies, but hey, them's the digs for doing business with the mafia, right?

In Ike’s defense, he’s not particularly proud of his dealings with Ben Diamond, he even seems to be a little bit ashamed of them, but the union killed his wife’s Pomeranian and it’s New Year’s Eve and all he wants to do is get booze into his star-studded, Frank Sinatra-headlined party. If Mike Strauss had just caved on the picketing when Ike asked him to (quite nicely, I might add), he probably wouldn’t have ended up at the bottom of Biscayne Bay before the episode was over.

Of course, there is the distinct possibility that Mike was the lucky one, making a hasty (though soggy) exit before the Miramar’s proverbial roof began to cave in. Ike got his party, a glitzy affair almost effortlessly oblivious to the revolutionary coup going down in Havana, just under one hundred miles away. If it wasn’t for the mostly Cuban kitchen staff gathering around the radio or television at various intervals during the episode, even the audience could have ignored the sociopolitical upheaval and its implications for the future of not just Ike Evans’ hotel, but Miami, and ultimately the rest of the country, too.

However, I doubt that will be the case for very long.

There was quite a bit of intricacy to the storytelling in Magic City’s debut episode. It took a little bit of patience for the pieces to sink in, namely, that the union debacle was not the first time Ike turned to Ben Diamond for help. It was Diamond who initially financed the construction of Ike’s “palace,” and Ike is still paying him back—at $64,000 a month—and sometimes barely scraping it together. Why oh why oh why would you go ask the man for a favor when he already has your figurative balls in a vice, Ike?

“I will do whatever I have to do to survive,” he said during that nice chat he had with Mike Strauss.

Oh. Well that makes sense, I suppose. Desperate times and all that.

Ike Evans is a man who puts a great deal of faith in things that backfire: Cuba will never fall to communism, Ben won’t kill Mike—he'll just scare him a little. And yet, Ike isn’t an idiot, and his ruthlessness is fueled by fear for his future and a desire to protect his family more than greed or status.

Of course, he’s putting them in greater danger by dealing with Diamond, but for now, he has things under control. Honestly, I suspect that Ike's eldest son Stevie’s naked beach parties with Diamond’s new wife, Lily, will blow up in his face before his unfortunate business transactions do.

Magic City is teeming with delightful things. Some are sinister—Danny Huston as psycho mob boss Ben Diamond is delightfully deranged. Some are sweet: The relationship between Ike's youngest son Danny and housekeeping extraordinaire Mercedes Lazaro is the quaintly romantic alternative to Stevie and Lily’s clandestine hook-ups. Some are downright funny. I have a confession to make: I’ve spent a good portion of my adult life not being a huge Jeffrey Dean Morgan fan. In retrospect, I think it’s a residual effect of the fact that he tends to play, well, douchebags, and it was surely a case of being slow to separate the actor from the characters because I freaking love him as Ike Evans. I was utterly smitten from the moment he looked down from the penthouse balcony to spot the poodle floating in the hotel pool, reaching for the phone to call general manager Victor (Mercedes’ dad) and inform him, “There’s a goddamn Pompom floating in the...Jesus Christ.” You could see the realization sink in, that the fluffy critter floating twenty-some floors below was his wife’s dog. And you know what? He wasn't disheartened or saddened, he was annoyed, because it was just one more thing he'd have to deal with on this crummy, crummy holiday.

It’s not easy being king.

What did you think of Magic City's debut?

Comments (7)
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I watched the first episode and found it disappointingly dull. I've never been a big fan of Danny Huston's acting, and the rest of the cast is pretty lackluster as well. Also, the parable of the frog and the scorpion is probably the most overused tool to define a story's villain. Really pretty hacky. Other than the copious nudity, I don't see how this show is going to draw an audience and last more than one season, if that.
Am I the only one who thought it was a bit boring? I'll watch a few more episodes, but I was disappointed, especially after all the praise it got. I'm kind of picky when it comes to dramas though.
I've been a JDM fan since he starred in "The Burning Zone" as Dr. Marcase (NOT a douchebag), and that intensified when he appeared as Denny (also not a DB) in "Grey's Anatomy". I think he's really come into his own in this show. I found the story line a little slow at first, but the production is GORGEOUS! Can't wait to see the next 2 episodes.
I've watched the first three episodes of this show and I am really loving it. I've really liked JDM from watching Supernatural and Watchmen and he's great once again as Ike. The unhinged mob boss is definitely a scene-stealer though, he's the best. Can't wait for new episodes.
i'm intrigued gonna wait and see what's in store. girls are fine, captivating (Lilly mob wife for sure), Ike's wife played by Olga Kurylenko not convinced me yet (she's russian beautiful yes but i don't know if she is playing russian wife in 50s or can't hide completely her accent). I'm russian so I can tell that cadences and that she's kinda feel uncomfortable in role. but if she's playing russian wife all is explained then. just i'm not given any clues yet. may be in next eps.

jeffrey dean morgan is in right place. organic nothin' to say. i just wish they not gonna make just another mob ganster drama show with miami nuance. there's plenty stuff to explore. but i'm afraid mob thing-y will be at the center of the show. will see.

for now starz shows (boss) kinda fallin' in the middle between HBO and showtime for me.
The wife's official story is that she was a gypsy before marrying Ike.
A good show. I am not sure it is going to reinvent the mobster genre but it has the potential to sure be one of its shining stars. The cast is great. I too have always been on the fence with JDM but he seems fairly at home in the role. Ike is deep down a good man and when pushed as I am sure it will happen many times thought the season he will rise or lower to the occasion depending on your perspective.

The rest of he cast is rife with potential and plot and great storylines. I am not sure about Stevie and Lily it does seem a little contrived and I am not sure the actor playing stevie has the cops to rise to the role. However contrast that will lily ia thought the actress that plays her is going to electrify that role. She was scene stealing and seemed right at home in the role like Morgan. The rest remain to be seen or well to be drawn out over the season.

The times and the setting and the players of that era can lead this to be so much more than a mob show. 1959 and the early 60s if they get past season 1 and 2 in many respects was a tumultuous time in US history especially in the south and in Miami in particular. Some would say the end of our innocence or at least the end of the facade. I would hope that they incorporate some of the turmoil into the show and make it more than a mob show. The showing of the revolution in Cuba leads me to think that they may just do that.

Overall I think that this show has a lot of potential. But this has been the year for squandered potential in TV. So we shall see.

If any thing though. It is going to have a great soundtrack.

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