“Magic City,” Starz’s new series about the operational dramas and criminal enticements within a splashy Miami Beach hotel, shows up embarrassingly late to a retro brat-pack party that was just wrapping up. Hey, barkeep, the show suavely purrs. I’ll have whatever “Mad Men’s” having. Then it pathetically leers at the few remaining gals with the so-so gams.
Everything about “Magic City” (premiering Friday night; you can also watch three episodes for free online) feels trapped in the past. Not just trapped in the 1959 Miami in which it is set, but also trapped in the arduous habit our TV culture has of exhuming that era. There’s a desperate cigarette stench here of “The Playboy Club” and “Pan Am.” The show is lavished with period decor and costumes (including the inevitable subterranean cocktail lounge where topless mermaids swim past portholes behind the bar), and yet it lacks a steady pulse.
Jeffrey Dean Morgan stars as Ike Evans, the cool but increasingly stressed-out owner of the Miramar Playa, a beachside beauty with modern, Morris Lapidus sweep. Nearing a big New Year’s Eve weekend during which Frank Sinatra has agreed to perform, the Miramar verges on chaos as Ike tangles with striking hotel workers.