After Lost became a hit, a bunch of shows tried to copy, in various ways, its mix of fantasy, action and flashbacks. The trend continues to this day. It's been a few years since Mad Men caught the zeitgeist, and now we're seeing serials with post-WWII period detail popping up.
The latest is Magic City, from Starz, the channel that brought us the amazing Party Down and little else of interest. Created by screenwriter/producer Mitch Glazer, it's about a guy who runs a fancy hotel in 1959 Miami Beach. Is it another Mad Men? Is it anything?
The sets and costumes are fine, and Magic City offers a premium channel's worth of sex, nudity and beautiful women, but the characters don't seem well developed. In fact beyond Morgan as Evans, no one makes much of an impression. Worse, the writing is weak and cliched--for instance, the gangster makes a speech about how he always wants more. Maybe he thinks that (or maybe not), but does he have to state it explicitly?
Perhaps Magic City will improve, but I'm not sure if I'll come back for a second helping. I do like the look, and Morgan is appealing, but there's not that much else calling me back.
I might add shows like this make one all the more impressed with Mad Men. It's able to go beyond the period trappings and make us care about the characters. And it does it without violence, which so many other popular dramas rely on.