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Hotel Heartbreak

When cable is good, it’s very, very good, but when it’s bad, it’s .  .  .

Apr 23, 2012, Vol. 17, No. 30 • By JOHN PODHORETZ
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No series in the history of television has ever been as important to the medium as The Sopranos. It showed cable television that its future wasn’t in airing movies first, but in winning audiences by making better programs. And so cable has. A year after The Sopranos debuted, Survivor premiered on CBS—luring broadcast television down the path to its own creative doom through the agency of low-cost and popular reality programming and progressively leaving an eager new audience of high-quality-TV addicts to the pay channels.

Magic City demonstrates the difficulty of duplicating the kind of conditions that made The Sopranos possible. The disastrous casting of the dull
Jeffrey Dean Morgan in the central role gives us an inadvertent sense of what The Sopranos might have been like with Van Zandt in the lead. And there is just something more interesting about the anxiety attacks of a Mafia boss than there is about the dilemmas of a guy who owns a hotel. Who cares if he can’t get liquor to the guests?

But who knows? Maybe Mitch Glazer, Magic City’s David Chase, will catch a sad break the way Chase did and find the true meaning of his show unexpectedly. Alas, that’s probably the only way it’s going to happen.

John Podhoretz, editor of Commentary, is The Weekly Standard’s movie critic.

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