There’s a reason most musicals don’t work on film. People in real life, as a rule, don’t break out into song. And there are no orchestras and background choruses on stand-by should they decide they do want to punctuate a conversation with a power ballad. Unless the project is so highly stylized that even Liza Minelli doesn’t think it’s real, musicals in real life settings tend to be well…creepfests.
Seventeen years ago, Steven Bochco decided to do a show combining a police drama and musical theater. It’s like if Reeses’, instead of combining chocolate and peanut butter, combined chocolate and toilet bowl cleanser. COP ROCK was an unmitigated disaster.
Well, I’m proud to announce that COP ROCK is no longer the worst most embarrassing show in the history of television. The monkey is off their back. There is now VIVA LAUGHLIN, so stupendously awful that no show will ever succeed in that time slot for the next 99 years.
In this series they trade cops for a casino operator but it’s the same premise. Actors inexplicably launch into songs and dance numbers. Imagine Warren Beatty in BUGSY suddenly breaking into “I’m a Pepper, You’re a Pepper, Everyone loves Dr. Pepper”. That’s VIVA LAUGHLIN.
It was originally a hit in England but so was THE RICH LIST.
And how does something so utterly absurd get on a major network? Hugh Jackman is one of the executive producers. Network honchos got to have dinner one night with Hugh Jackman – take their picture with him, maybe get him to autograph their cocktail napkins.
I missed the pilot, which I hear was jaw dropping. But I did catch up to episode two (which, considering the ratings) also became the series finale. CBS Berlin called yesterday.
First it started with the now obligatory “Previously on” section (even sitcoms have that now). For three minutes there was this dizzying montage of unrecognizable characters blurting out random phrases. “He’s dead!” “I’ll call her in the morning.” “Did you pick up my cleaning?” “Ace beats a three.” “That Flomax really works!” Thanks. I’m all caught up now.
Then on with the show. Lloyd Owen is the star. Picture Mike Brady’s evil twin who talks like Greg Germann. He speaks in this bad Raymond Chandler dialogue. “Y’know yer problem, you play fair.” And his image as a tough guy isn’t compromised the slightest when he suddenly breaks into “I’m Still Standing” and dances up and down escalators in a pathetic attempt to recreate the Christopher Walken music video.
He has a sidekick. The “Boo Boo” to his “Yogi”. In this case, a schleppy Jewish guy. Who better to fret over the books and debt notices than a Jew? And nice touch having him sing along with “Money, that’s all I want”.
Melanie Griffith (shot lovingly through a filter of cheesecloth) plays a character named Bunny Baxter. That’s really all you need to know except Melanie’s face work came out much better than Candice Bergen’s.
Other names in this series are Nicky Fontana, Jonesy, Ripley, and Cheyenne. It’s as if everyone in Laughlin, Nevada is named after a member of the Village People.
Rounding out the group are Madchen Amick (as long as she doesn’t do comedy I’m in love), some Ryan Seacrest type pretty boy detective, and former U.S. President, Wayne Palmer from 24 (still blending into any background he stands in front of).
The episode began with two detectives spitting out five minutes of the most convoluted exposition I’ve ever heard. It would have been easier for the Nazis to break Navajo codes than to decipher this backstory.
Then an hour of hard-boiled clichés, this Mike Brady/Greg Germann (who leaves visible slime trails wherever he goes) flashy musical numbers sung by people who can’t sing, and the following plotline:
In order to get more people into his establishment, Mike/Greg tries to lure a big high roller from President Palmer’s casino to his. How? By enticing him with a hot chick. Ah, but there’s a delightful twist. He only likes fat chicks. So Mike/Greg enlists the help of an obese employee, who of course doesn’t have a problem with the idea of some weasel she’s never even met sleeping with her. In fact, she’s downright flattered that Mike/Greg asked.
And if that wasn’t scummy and reprehensible enough, there was this exchange of dialogue:
Mike/Greg explains he’d like her to turn on the charm and suck him in and she says, “If he’s that good looking I might do more than suck.”
COP ROCK, please come back! I swear, I’ll never make fun of you again. Or SHOWGIRLS. Or PAINT YOUR WAGON.