Monday, June 17, 2013

Magic City: Yiddish, Cuba, Bathing Suit Excellent

I caught up with the first season of Magic City and the first episode of the second season in the past few days, and was impressed indeed.  It takes place a tad before the start of Mad Men - in late 1958 into 1959 - but it has almost nothing else in common with Mad Men.   Instead of high-rolling Madison Avenue advertising, we get beach-front Miami Beach, where the main high-rolling depicted is among gamblers, mobsters, and hotel owner Ike Evans.   The mob - in the person of Ben Diamond - contributes murders - and the women, from prostitutes to girl friends and wives, are sassily bright and beautiful.   There's plenty of nudity of all kinds, making Magic City much more like Rome than Mad Men.

The plot is pretty good, too, with some genuinely climatic and touching moments, and a few over-the-top situations and resolutions, which are ok by me.   Ike - well played by Jeffrey Dean Morgan - is struggling to keep his hotel successful and even afloat.   He seeks the help of Diamond, ends up with a murder of union head on his hands, who also happens to be an old friend.   To make matters even more tense, Ike's son Stevie is sleeping with Diamond's wife, and Ike's other son Danny wants to work in the DA's office - the very DA who is out to get Ike and Diamond at any cost.

A lot of the first season was devoted to Stevie keeping polaroids of him and Diamond's wife out of Diamond's hands.   When Diamond finally does get a look at them, however, he kills neither his wife or Stevie, because he rather watch them making love.   Not completely believable, but I guess there are crazed mobsters like Diamond around somewhere, so why not in Miami Beach.

The show has a Yiddishe tahm - look it up if you don't know the language - which makes it especially welcome and appealing.   More than just a Yiddish word is thrown in every now and again.  Magic City is thoroughly steeped in Jewish customs and attitudes.  And among the characters who are Jewish are not only Ike and his kids (though not his second wife, who is Cuban), but Ben Diamond (far more brutal than Meyer Lansky), the late union leader, and even the obsessed DA.   And Cuba indeed plays a significant role in this story.  As does JFK, not yet seen, but on his way to becoming President.

In short, Magic City is zesty, refreshing, pounding, and sexy - I'll be an avid viewer from now.   And my wife really likes it, too.



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