October 27, 2007

Viva Laughlin

Viva Laughlin is an American version of a British show (Viva Blackpool) about the young upstart casino owner going up against the established casino mogul with a murder mystery thrown in. Being a British show gives it about 50/50 odds of success, since British imports have split evenly between being long running hits (The Office, Sanford & Son (née Steptoe & Son), American Idol (née Pop Idol)) and the really gigantic stinkers (Coupling, First Years (née This Life), Life is Wild).

It's got Hugh Jackman in it, which increases its odds, but it's also got Melanie Griffith, which decreases its odds by a slightly greater amount. So its odds are still about even until you learn it's a musical. To my knowledge, there has never been a successful TV musical, so you can just about count it out right there.

Don't get me wrong. I'm about the world's biggest proponent of the singing and the dancing and the musical theatre. But, I don't have a lot of hopes for someone to do a musical on the small screen successfully.

All of my worst fears were confirmed when I watched the pilot. It's not a musical like singing and dancing production numbers. It's only a musical in the sense that occasionally a song will play, and a character will sing along to it. Let me clarify. A song will play in its actual recorded version (Rolling Stones' "Sympathy for the Devil", for example), and a character will sing the same words along with the recorded track (so you hear both him and Mick). It's almost as if CBS bought a musical, but then was too embarassed to actually show a musical, so came up with ways to shield the American public from all that pesky singing.

If CBS took out all of the music, though, what's left would be still unwatchable. It's easily in contention for the worst new show for this fall season. About the only thing the show gets right is the feeling one gets from the actual city of Laughlin. Laughlin, Nevada is Las Vegas's ugly stepsister, where you get all of the desperation and seediness of Vegas without any of the fun or character. It's decidedly second-rate, and you always get the feeling, no matter what you're doing, that it would have been better in Vegas. This show recreates this feeling by being a decidedly second-rate show. The acting, the dialogue, the sets, the costumes and everything seem like low-budget rejects from other, better shows which provides a good parallel to the city of Laughlin. However, that's not a reason to watch this show. There is no reason to watch this show.


Captain Emus said...

I will now continue to not watch that show based on your most expert review of it, and also your spot-on characterization of Laughlin.

Aaron said...

You'll be pleased to know that your efforts to not watch the show will be made a lot easier since CBS cancelled it only 4 days after its premiere.

It's that bad.

Scott said...

I interviewed with a firm called Steptoe & Johnson when we were in LA, and got rejected.