“Viva Laughlin” Review: CBS Deals Us a Bad Hand
I made “Viva Laughlin” my Pick of the Week because I thought we were going to get some good old-fashioned cheesiness.
So when the show started, I was a little disappointed. The music really wasn’t that big of a deal. Most shows use music to set the mood. “Viva” just happened to have characters that quietly sang along with that music.
Although I must interject that the near mumbling was a little annoying since there were dance steps and it was a total waste of Hugh Jackman’s voice.
But then the show decided to get cute with a duet of “One Way or Another” between the show’s star Lloyd Owen and Melanie Griffith; and the cheese flowed freely throughout. However, it wasn’t the fun cheesy that makes you laugh. It was the bad cheesy that makes you totally uncomfortable.
In fact, if I were to describe “Viva” in one word, uncomfortable would be it…
If you missed it, “Viva” follows Ripley Holden (Owen), who sold his convenience store chain to open a casino in Laughlin, Nevada. But his partner, Buddy, pulls out of the deal and Ripley is forced to go to his rival casino owner, Nicky Fontana (Hugh Jackman). But Nicky wants the casino for himself, so he passes. Ripley then goes to Bunny (Melanie Griffith), Buddy’s wife, to get her to change Buddy’s mind. However, Ripley won’t agree to her terms (She wants him to sleep with her.). And then Buddy ends up dead in Ripley’s office, which gets the police all over Ripley. Finally, Ripley finds a way to get some money by placing a major bet at Nicky’s casino and winning big.
Sound uneventful? That’s because it was.
The sad truth is that even without the singing, “Viva” would be a bad show. The story is dull. The attempts at family drama are pathetic and Owen is just not that appealing as a leading man.
If you’re looking for appeal, all of that belongs to Eric Winter, who plays Detective Peter Carlyle. He’s slightly quirky and Winter plays that well—not to mention he’s seriously hot. His partner is also pretty funny.
But they seem totally out of place. Their comic moments just don’t mesh with the gloomy tone of the rest of the show. Or maybe they don’t mesh because they’re worth watching and the rest of the show isn’t.
And why cast the fabulous D.B. Woodside if you’re not going to use him?
There’s been a lot of turnover behind the scenes with “Viva” so there’s a small chance the show could get better, but it’s going to take a lot of work. Personally, I would like to see the show embrace the music and actually let the actors sing. But it’s pretty obvious the plan is to phase that part of the show out entirely. The problem is there won’t be anything left. The musical element would at least make it original.
I said that “Viva” could be so bad you wouldn’t want to miss it. I got the bad part right; but honestly, I’m hoping you didn’t take my advice.
Now if you’ll excuse me, I feel the need to burst into a chorus of “How Can You Expect to Be Taken Seriously?” but I’ll actually be singing…
“Viva Laughlin” airs Sundays at 8 p.m. on CBS…