The Schmooze

Why ‘Magic City’ Is Missing the Magic

Image courtesy of Starz/Greg Williams

Here is a list of things that I like (and some that I love): Mad Men; “The Godfather Part II” villain Hyman Roth; “Bugsy,” “Once Upon a Time in America” and other visualizations of Jewish gangland; Miami Vice; Saul Bellow, Meyer Levin, and the early fiction of Bernard Malamud; Deborah Dash Moore’s “To the Golden Cities: Pursuing the American Jewish Dream in Miami and LA”; film noir, but especially neo-noirs like “Chinatown” that shifted their focus from the decaying cityscape to the darkness only superficially bleached away by the sun; “Body Heat” (though really anything with a young Mickey Rourke and/or William Hurt); tales of unbridled Jewish ambition from “The Rise of David Levinsky” to “What Makes Sammy Run?” and “The Social Network”; lounge music; and long, lingering shots of people smoking.

So I absolutely should have loved “Magic City,” the new Starz show about late-’50s Miami Beach, the luxurious Miramar hotel, and the moral compromises its Jewish hotelier, Isaac “Ike” Evans (Jeffrey Dean Morgan), is forced to make to hold on to power. But through two episodes, the show is distinctly less than the sum of its parts, little more than an exercise in style. Admittedly, it’s unfair to judge a show on its first few episodes, but “Magic City” is clearly in danger of becoming a missed opportunity.

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Why ‘Magic City’ Is Missing the Magic

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