Magic City Not Renewed – Final Thoughts

Moon over Miami
You know we’re waiting for
A little love, a little kiss
On Miami shore

Those are lyrics from Moon Over Miami, a song written by Joe Burke and Edgar Leslie in 1935. Musical luminaries like Bing Crosby, Eddy Duchin, and Ray Charles all recorded the song. In the Starz network tv series, Magic City – most of the time, the only Miami moons we got to see were called buns and belonged to either Steven Strait as Stevie, or Danny Huston, as Ben “The Butcher” Diamond.

Starz has just announced that Magic City will not be renewed the for a third season, so last night marked the seasonal and series finale. At the very end, Ike Evans was seen on that very Miami shore. Only he wasn’t embracing his wife or any one else. He was just drawing an image of his hotel in the sand.

Spoiler Alert: Disposition of many characters follows –

The last few episodes were bloody to say the least. We had guns, car bombs, and knives as instruments of death in the last episode. Ike Evans has finally gotten out from under the thumbs of the mob connections with Ben Diamond barely alive and facing charges from Jack Klein, the State Attorney, and Sy Berman now having all the vibrancy of scorched toast.

Evan’s two sons have each turned away from him, Danny heading for parts unknown, and Stevie managing a whore house connected to Ben Diamond. Ike’s wife, the beautiful Vera, was still reeling from the thought of what Ike and Meg might be doing. It was still only business, but Vera didn’t know that.

Judi Silver, the prostitute met an unkind end dying in Danny Evans arms. Carlos Ruiz died beneath a Miami dock, and Victor Lazaro may have lost his life while taking Ruiz s life. Mercy had miscarriage, Bel Jaffe likely has booked his last bet too in a bloody shoot out between Sy Berman’s group and Ben Diamond’s goons.

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So realistically, the last man standing was Ike Evans, and he wasn’t even standing. He was kneeling on the sand.

Magic City has now joined Boss and Smash, tv shows that I covered, that each ran for two seasons, and all failed to be renewed for a third season. Magic City from Mitch Glazer was a fanciful idea. That late 1950’s and early 1960’s Miami nostalgia was played for all it was worth. Miami’s old money vs the newer money, the mobs, the glitz, and glamour, and the ghost from the future called gambling.

I was mostly unimpressed by the series. Especially this year where it seemed that each and every scene went on far too long. Scenes run long in The Newsroom, but the difference is that Sorkin’s show has crackling great dialogues, whereas Magic City had none. I think plodding is an apt word.

Ike Evans – he had just the right look as a Miami tough guy, who was both ruthless and resilient, and yet he showed himself as a family man with a lot of heart and caring.

He kept his wife Vera mostly in the dark about his business, just as Michael Corleone did –

Kay Corleone: Is it true Michael?
Michael Corleone: Don’t ask me about my business Kay.

But Ike genuinely loved Vera. One might say that Ben Diamond loved his wife too. Although clearly that was all together different.

It was mostly Lily Diamond that had the majority of the on-screen sex in Magic City. Only Ben Diamond was not a participant. Usually he preferred to be watching from his perch in the eye-in-the-sky bedroom he designed.

By the way, we never did find out what Lily was doing with the money she was stealing from Ben. And wasn’t it sloppy of Ben to leave his business diary/ledger around for anyone to find.

Michael Rispoli as Bel Jaffe was fun to watch, as was Alex Rocco, as Ike’s Dad. Interestingly, with these two, we had two Italian-Americans portraying Jewish guys.

What I Liked:

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The Atlantis Bar beneath the Miramar lobby. In the opening credits where a naked girl swimming beneath the surface became the fins of an early sixties Cadillac, which became a shark.

Jessica Marais as Lily Diamond.

Jeffrey Dean Morgan as Ike.

The cute elevator girl Theresa played by Catalina Rodriguez.

And the excellent period hairstyles and clothing as worn by Vera, Lily, and Meg Bannock. And of course the cars.

What I Didn’t Like:

The over all plodding style. The wooden dialogue.

The fact that so many people smoked.

Jimmy Caan as Sy Berman seemed more than a tad too old. He was supposed to be menacing but I didn’t buy it for a second.

Christian Cooke as Danny Evans. Ike’s lawyer Sid Raskin.

I also didn’t care for the performances by Olga Kurylenko as Vera, and Dominik Garcia-Lorido as Mercy. Each of them just weren’t right.

I think the series did a fine job in capturing the period, as well as tying in the factual failed gambling bills, the corruption, and the Cuban emigres. But they reached too far in dragging in the ghosts of Sinatra, his long-time manager Jilly Rizzo, and Jacqueline and Ethel Kennedy.

I also believed they over played the Jewish angle. Sure the characters were Jewish and that’s fine, but most of the actors weren’t. Judd Hirsch would have been better casting than Rocco.

I’ll wrap this up with a few words about Ben Diamond. Did we really need to see him naked in at least two, or was it three episodes. Has there ever been a more creepy character? Huston was fine, and looks like he’ll have a lengthy career playing villains.

Back to Moon Over Miami:

Moon over Miami
Shine on as we begin
A dream or two that may come true
When the tide comes in

For sure we will have more TV Series that are set in Miami. Bet on it. But they won’t be about the Evans family. Unless, and this is also fanciful thinking, another cable network picks up the series. What are the odds? Sorry, without Bel Jaffe around, that question will go unanswered.

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