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Starz Debut Exposes Elusive ’50s Magic City

Apr 4, 2012 at 7:46 am

Premium cable’s apparent answer to Mad Men, Magic City (10 p.m. Friday, Starz) opens on New Year’s Eve 1958 in Miami Beach, Fla. Ike Evans (played by Javier Bardem-lookalike Jeffrey Dean Morgan) owns the luxurious Miramar Playa Hotel, the pinnacle of Miami vacationing and nightlife. With Frank Sinatra set to ring in 1959, performing on one of the biggest service nights of the year, Evans should be ecstatic over the upcoming successful evening. But with his crew on a union strike, it’s soon clear that the hotel might be unraveling. Miramar’s gleaming exterior is merely a veil for the corruption that takes place inside: tempting escorts, short-tempered financiers and a whole lot of mob activity.

Miramar is a perfect venue for the drama — glamorous hotels seem to attract the most beautiful and scandalous guests. Last night’s mistakes disappear when housekeeping performs its cleaning magic. One day, it’s home; the next, just a distant memory.

As a fan of the other aforementioned period piece, it is hard to not compare the two. Swap Mad Men’s cigarettes for cigars, sleazy salesmen for mobsters and Manhattan for Miami and you’ve got Magic City. The latter even similarly ties in real historic events, like the Cuban Revolution. 

While my loyalty lies with Don Draper, there’s a place for Ike Evans, too — the shows can be enjoyed separately.

The first three episodes are now available On Demand and at Starz.com. 


Betty White’s Off Their Rockers (Series premiere, 8 p.m., NBC) – In the latest attempt to milk poor Betty White for all she’s worth, Off Their Rockers is a hidden camera show starring prank-pulling seniors. Think geriatric Punk’d (which also recently returned to television)

South Park (10 p.m., Comedy Central) – South Park’s annual Easter egg hunt might have to be cancelled when locals worry about a mysterious creature in the forest. Cartman has a sighting and shows a videotape of what he’s discovered: the Jewpacabra.

American Weed (10 p.m., Nat Geo) – Denver growers go head-to-head in Colorado’s first-ever High Times Medicinal Cannabis Cup. 


Community (8 p.m., NBC) – As the blanket fort war between Abed and Troy continues, Jeff tries to mediate while the rest of the crew takes sides.

30 Rock (8:30 p.m., NBC) – Jack decides to make a man out of Pete after reading his depressing self-evaluation; Tracy regains his long-lost sense of smell and finds himself particularly fond of Liz’s scent.

Delocated (Season finale, midnight, Cartoon Network) – Every modern reality show always wraps up with a reunion, so join the remaining living cast members as they dish on life/imprisonment after Delocated.


Saturday Night Live (11:30 p.m., NBC) – Sofia Vergara, who plays Modern Family’s caricature with cha-chas, hosts with musical guests, British boyband One Direction.


Nurse Jackie (Season premiere, 9 p.m., Showtime) – This fourth season details Jackie’s inevitable entrance to rehab after her lies and addictions catch up with her. Meanwhile, All Saints Hospital is acquired by Quantum Bay, a corporation that also owns hotels, railroads, firearms and tobacco.

Game of Thrones (9 p.m., HBO) – Theon returns to his home on the Iron Islands for the first time in nine years to find his father still bitter about his son’s loyalty to Winterfell. Tyrion uses his role as Hand of the King to reel in Joffrey.

Drinking Game Suggestion

: Take a swig of your wine or ale whenever Joffrey deserves a bitch slap.

The Big C (Season premiere, 9:30 p.m., Showtime) – Season three opens with encouraging medical news for Cathy. Sean encourages Angela to pursue her interest in her African heritage; Adam turns to prayer as a way to cope with his mom’s cancer.

Mad Men (10 p.m., AMC) – Andrea, a woman from Don’s past, pops back into the picture; Joan’s frustration with her mother comes to a head.

Eastbound and Down (10 p.m., HBO) – Stevie attempts to make up for his cheating ways while Kenny tries to get back in his coach’s good graces — and back on the mound.

Life’s Too Short (Season finale, 10:30 p.m., HBO) – Season one wraps up with Warwick at a celeb-packed charity event. But when Warwick uses the opportunity to ask for personal donations (his finances are in the crapper), Sting steps in.


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