Magic City-Series One. An American gangster story set in the late 1950s. My Review of episodes: One, Two and Three.. Minor Spoilers Only. I watched this series on Virgin Media TV in the UK as an exclusive to Virgin TV users with XL and a TIVO box: but I am told that the series may be available by other methods..There are two series.

Monday, 19 September 2016

Magic City Series Description:
“A hotelier conducts business with a mob boss among the glitz and glamour of late 1950s Miami Beach”

Episode one description:
“Ike Evans, the owner of Miami’s most glamourous hotel, makes an ill-fated deal with mob boss Bob Diamond to ensure the success of his glitzy establishment”
With Jeffrey Dean Morgan and Olga Kurylenko.

“A Starz Original Series”.


Magic City

Series One.
My First Review.

December 31st 1958. Miami Beach Florida.

The hero has woken up from a bad, watery dream. A nightmare. He shrugs on his silken robe after gazing down, lovingly and tenderly at the woman sleeping peacefully next to him. We know that just looking at her has grounded him, released him from his nightmare.

He moves into another room and opens a small wooden box. Taking from it a large cigar. flicking open his Zippo, he lights the cigar. We can just see the small silver seal wrapped round it. He puffs in, exhales. (there is a lot of smoking in Magic City)

He moves forward and comes upon a large balcony with a stone floor. There are curved horizontal railings wrapped around. Like he was on an Art Deco cruise ship, high above the sea. And indeed he is. Looking down at the sea that is.

Instead of a cruise ship we see he is in a hotel instead. The Miramar Playa.

The sunset is a pale neon pink to apricot, with the sun a squished leaking ball. The white sand stretches out below. Miami Beach 1958. This was before all the drugs.

The scene somehow replicates that strange whooshing sound of the sea mixed with that overhead heaviness of heat. That makes for a sort of dull echoing in your ears. As the heat seems to hang heavy, then climb, up into the colder night air above..

This is the beginning of Magic City. That made me feel I was there, by the sea.

So usually I would say that magic City just gets better and better. But I won’t. This time. Because it was good right from the very start.

I could say that the drama is a slow burner. But only in terms of it building the story slowly. A story with many multiple strands.

I have always found dramas set in hotels or department stores to be fascinating and enjoyable to watch. Because, perhaps such a building is a perfect scene setting: a microcosm of a world. That world within a world.

This set-up allows for multiple characters for instance, with myriad different roles. Who then all interact with each other or intersect with each other. On a day to day basis or randomly through time. As the story progresses.

Plus that miniature world of people can become an organism of one, a whole, which reacts to problems or dysfunction within. Or without. Meaning from outside. The termite mountain under stress, or threat: coming from external forces.

How will the termite mountain react? will it survive? What is the strategy of protection or attack. And so on. Goodness knows how I got onto termites. But you get my drift.

Magic City is like Casino met the style of Mad Men and then Goodfellas tagged along for the ride. If these dramas were all people.

The hero, Isaac, is like a kind of crumpled Cary Grant transplanted to the beginning of the sixties. Well 1959 to be precise. And boy was 1959 cool. The year of style.

My only bugbear with this series is the fact that it doesn’t have subtitles. Yes, this is possibly unfair as a critique in a review: so let’s call it a technicality. For me personally, subtitles would have been the icing on the cake.

I confess that I am addicted to subtitles and have them on for everything: English speaking dramas as well. For two reasons: one being that sometimes characters mumble a lot and the second being I love to see the sound description of sounds.

Also it seems that the setting for sound generally, or more specifically the speech in drama is often seemingly turned down low.

I did have to rewind one particular scene in Magic City when Bob Diamond is fishing on the wooden pier and mumbles sotto-voice to his two henchmen: about a “thing”.

In fact I had to rewind the scene several times to catch the details and discover, or realise; exactly what “that thing” meant. And that there were two “things”..

Apart from this described above, Magic City is simply a sumptuous creation. Of colour, intricate detail and sound. Since funnily enough the background, every day sounds of life in the Miramar Playa hotel and the sounds of the sea: are sparklingly audible.

That whooshing thundering sound of the sea that we sometimes hear just through a shuttered window. You can almost feel the loss of atmospheric pressure; that heaviness in the air.

That soporiphic feel: that you can find in semi-tropical climes, living by the sea. All this described is perfectly replicated by sound.

Then there is the stunning visual creations of scenes that simply drip with sensuality. When even the ice-cubes tinkling delicately in a glass: seem sexy.

In such scenes two characters may be simply chatting quietly, but just looking at each other: it is all in the glances.


Random dialogue.
Bob Diamond to his wife: (who was once the Wakita mermaid)
“Not a God…”


To be continued.



I like the fact that for Magic City, before it starts, there is simply a statement of what to expect in terms of its content.

A statement, note, not the usual warning!


Isaac is called Ike for short.


Posted by Clarissima at 16:56

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