Published on May 31st, 2018 | by Ian Goodwillie0
LA to Vegas
TV is fast and furious these days. This review of LA to Vegas, a clever show that often transcended its sitcominess, turned into an obituary.
This was supposed to be a review. Unfortunately, it’s turned into an obituary.
When you see a promo for a new TV show, it’s hard to know what to expect. Promos are supposed to be intriguing and give you a taste of what you’re in for if you tune in. But they rarely give you an entire vision of what you’re in for. This was definitely a problem for LA to Vegas.
The TV promos gave you a sense of the setting. A zany group of passengers and staff on a discount airline get up to wacky hijinks on their way back and forth between Los Angeles and Las Vegas. And a flight that takes people from LA to Vegas and back to party is inevitably filled with hijinks. Quite naturally, there are a lot of degenerates on the flight. And you got all that from the promos.
The problem with those same promos was that they made LA to Vegas look like a very standard sitcom. And there are definitely more than a few of those elements in it, like the tired love triangle featuring the one party rife with unrequited feelings watching from a distance. And you know they’ll eventually get together because of the sitcom format. But what was missing from the promos was what LA to Vegas does to transcend these standard tropes.
Seven characters make up the core of this show. Ronnie is the veteran Jackpot flight attendant with nerves of steel in the air and seemingly no control over her own life on the ground. Her partner-in-crime is Bernard, an impressively over dramatic flight attendant who’s quick with a witty bon mot and a pop culture reference from several decades ago. Their pilot, Captain Dave, is the quintessential arrogant bastard with a heart of gold…well gold plate. And his co-pilot Alan is plays the innocent on the surface, degenerate underneath well. And that’s just the flight team.
Colin is a British economics professor working at UCLA who travels to Las Vegas each weekend to see his son. Nichole is a highly intelligent stripper who flies to Vegas on the weekends to make extra cash and drops a lot of horrific one liners that seem to go over everyone else’s heads. And then there’s Artem, the Russian who heads to Vegas on the weekends to indulge his side passion as a gambler and bookie. His day job comes right out of left field.
All seven of these characters come together to create a perfect storm of insanity. Frankly, it was just nice to see Peter Stormare on TV each week as Artem. His comedy chops are no joke. And this series might be Dylan McDermott’s, who plays Captain Dave, best work ever.
What worked on this show is the interpersonal relationships of a group of people brought together by being trapped in a confined space for the same period of time every week. They played well off each other, building story and character well. There were a lot of laugh out moments, though there were times that we got more punchlines than setups when it came to the jokes. But that worked, thanks to a great cast playing off the real-life foibles and frustrations of modern air travel.
What didn’t work were the exceedingly “sitcommy” elements, like the previously mentioned love triangle. It was a little two ‘Jim and Pam’ for this show. For all the times it transcended the sitcom genre, there were as many times that it got mired in the format’s tropes. But given time and the chance to fully develop its identity, LA to Vegas would have become one of the funniest shows on TV.
Notice the tense we’re talking about LA to Vegas in?
On May 21st, it was announced that LA to Vegas had been cancelled. This wasn’t a huge surprise as the ratings weren’t spectacular and Fox isn’t exactly known for taking chances these days. It was kind of shocking but great that they let The Last Man on Earth, another show that unfortunately won’t be returning in the fall, go on for as long as it did. A great, inventive show but definitely the type of series they usually cancel after one season.
Unlike Brooklyn Nine-Nine, yet another recent Fox cancellation, there is no savior in sight for LA to Vegas. That is unfortunate as there’s huge potential for this series. And given TV’s penchant for revivals, perhaps a new home can be found at another network or streaming service. Fox itself has found huge success in resurrecting its own series, such as Family Guy.
For fans of LA to Vegas, there’s always hope. And if that hope gives us more scenes with Peter Stormare’s Artem and Nathan Lee Graham’s Bernard, all the better.
Make it happen, Netflix.