As if Danny Huston couldn't chew up enough scenery, he returns in the second season of 'Magic City' trying to pull the rug out from under Jeffery Dean Morgan at every opportunity. Huston, who plays wacko mob boss Ben Diamond, gets deliciously more insane as the season moves along. Even though Huston is utterly overacting in just about every scene he's in, he makes 'Magic City' worth watching. If only just to see how outlandishly crazy his character will become.
In the second season, Ike Evans (Morgan) is trying to extricate himself from the iron grasp of Ben Diamond. Diamond feels his strangle hold on Miami slipping, so he's trying everything to get a better grip. Evans' Miramar Playa Hotel is one foothold he isn't willing to give up. Through an endless amount of bribes Diamond is sure that gambling will be made legal, and after that the Miramar will become a bottomless cash cow. Evans is a hotel man, and the Miramar is his life's work. He's tired of being bossed around by Diamond, so he spends the second season trying to scheme his way out from under him.
The cat-and-mouse game between Ben and Ike lies at the center of season two. There's a whole bunch of subplots swirling around this nucleus like Ike's wife Vera (Olga Kurylenko) wanting to dance again; Ike's oldest son Stevie (Steven Strait) wanting to take on more of a responsibility around the hotel, being just a bartender isn't satisfying him anymore; Ike's other son Danny (Christian Cooke), looking to intern with the same District Attorney that is looking to put Ike away for murder; and the Castro revolution in Cuba.
The second season begins with Ike in jail for suspicion of murder. As you fans of the show remember, he was arrested at the end of the first season after he was suspected of murdering a mafia hitman. Miami's DA is simply looking to find a link between Ike and Ben Diamond, so he'll stop at nothing to get what he wants.
Like so many premium cable period dramas, 'Magic City's sets are expertly dressed. It really looks like the late 50s, early 60s. The gorgeous interior of the Mirimar Playa is only matched by the opulent surroundings of Ben Diamond's lavish Miami estate. Speaking of Ben Diamond, let's not forget that he's the guilty pleasure that keeps 'Magic City' from entering the land of boredom.
As last season came to a close, Diamond spent his time smoking cigars with a madman grin, and watching his wife have sex with Stevie through a two-way mirror. On the scale of TV creepiness this ranks up there with Joffrey Baratheon's fetish for killing prostitutes with crossbows. Sweaty, shirtless Danny Huston sitting on a chair, pleasuring himself as his wife has sex with his closest associate's son is ridiculous to the nth degree. There are plenty of times where 'Magic City' tries, and ultimately fails to push whatever envelope it's trying to push. At times it feels like it has a 'Spartacus' desperation as far as "being edgy" is concerned. At one point during the season, Ben Diamond finds it completely impossible to satiate his sexual fetish of watching people have sex through two-way mirrors, that even the sight of half-a-dozen bronzed beauties going at it doesn't help. Only his wife and Stevie will do.
'Magic City' is a decadent guilty pleasure. If you've held on through the first season, and you're actually wondering where the second season will go, you're more interested in the show than I am. My interest in the series is merely morbid curiosity to see how bizarre the writers can make the character of Ben Diamond. Which, to my delight, appears to be a never-ending exercise in depravity.
Blu-ray: Vital Disc Stats
This Starz/Anchor Bay release comes nicely packaged with a well-constructed cardboard Digi-Pack foldout containing three separate disc hubs for each 50GB Blu-ray Disc in the set. The first two discs contain four episodes each, while the third disc houses all the special features. The foldout folds up and slips nicely into an outer slipcover. The back of the case states that this is a Region A only release.
Watching the show's opening credit's, which appear purposefully noisy, you wouldn't expect a nearly flawless looking transfer. Yet, once the show starts rolling the 1080p presentation is just about as glorious as it gets in the world of high-def television.
'Magic City's warm tones are presented with clarity and precision. Miami is a sweltering place so skin tones and colors tend toward the hotter side of the spectrum. The show's expertly dressed sets are helped immensely by the highly detailed presentation their given. Each and every detail of the Miramar Playa's elegant lobby is on display. Everything from the ornate marble work to the refined texture of the couches and chairs is instantly visible. Ike Evans' suits are immaculately presented. There's no skimping on fine detail, that's for sure.
Dark scenes are rarely inhabited by senseless crushing. Shadows are deep and defined. Black areas area nice and inky, contrasting perfectly with the white hot sands and billowing cream clouds of Miami. There's little to complain about in this excellent transfer. Some miniscule banding and shimmering pop up every now and then, but that's about it.
This season's Dolby TrueHD 5.1 mix is every bit as responsive as the first season. They're pretty much clones of each other. In my season one review I stated, "'Magic City' offers a fairly immersive listening experience. Dialogue is always clear when it comes through the center speaker. Clarity in the dialogue is precise." This remains completely true throughout the entirety of the second season.
Surrounds are nicely used. The lobby of the hotel, especially during the DJ convention, is hopping with ambient sound. Parties, shows, and busy city streets offer plenty of surround sound fodder to create and immersive listening experience. If you enjoyed the first season's presentation, this one continues on with its quality.
By now you know if you're ready to give up your time to see where this show goes. It's got star power, it's got some good actors (even if Danny Huston chomps up scenery like a sweaty Pac-Man), and it has great style. It's a tad melodramatic for its own good, but that adds to the guilty pleasure-ness of it all. The second season of 'Magic City,' with all its hot Miami craziness, is worth a look. Especially, with the excellent video and audio presentations it comes along with.