Since Fox's humble beginnings, its best shows are almost always the ones that go ridiculously over the top, especially when it comes to comedy. And the network is kicking off 2018 in familiar fashion with the new show LA to Vegas, a fairly by-the-numbers workplace comedy that colors far outside the lines with signature Las Vegas over-indulgence. With lots of talent both on the screen and behind the scenes, LA to Vegas soars to some hilarious heights with a never-ending string of ridiculously silly situations, and it's all anchored by the best performance of Dylan McDermott's career.
Right away, the biggest thing that LA to Vegas has gong for it is its pilot episode, the surprisingly rounded and successful sum of a lot of randomly amusing parts. From the character introductions to the built-in appeal of its flight-based narrative structure, the premiere hits all the "promising TV comedy" checkboxes, and successive episodes maintain the frictionless comedic glide, even if they don't share the same first-watch punch. This isn't a groundbreaking or hyper-brilliant series, but it nears the apex of enjoyability.
While Dylan McDermott's buffoonishly captivating Captain Dave is front and center of LA to Vegas' marketing campaign, the show is actually centered on the in-flux flight attendant Ronnie, played by UnREAL and Bold and the Beautiful vet Kim Matula. Ronnie has spent the past eight months working for Jackpot Airlines, which hosts round-trip weekend flights between Los Angeles and Las Vegas. Thought it might not be the most glamorous job, Ronnie might not be the most glamorous person, and she's learning a lot of perhaps unintentional life lessons from coworkers and passengers alike. Matula was perfectly cast here, too, and she diligently retains Ronnie's humanity amidst everyone else's debauchery.
Ronnie's closest work confidante is fellow flight attendant Bernard, played by Zoolander familiar and Broadway great Nathan Lee Graham. Bernard is as self-confident and put-together as Ronnie is messy and impulsive, with a warm and wide smile that hides an incisive snark. And then there's co-pilot Alan, played by Amir Talai, whose sporadic appearances largely set him up as the straight-man to everyone else's shenanigans.
Those shenanigans often involve some of the regular passengers bringing their luck and skill to Las Vegas. For instance, the great Peter Stormare is a friendly sleaze as Artem, a gambling-minded man who finds a way to play the odds in any given situation. Nichole, played by The Young Pope's Olivia Macklin, is a weekend stripper whose networking skills are as good as her cash-earning skills. Then there's Mindy Project vet Ed Weeks as the mostly grounded Colin, whose Vegas visits have very little to do with the casinos and nightlife. There are initially some sparks between Ronnie and Colin, but there are just as many obstacles getting in the way.
Now, we arrive at the mustachioed crown jewel of LA to Vegas: Dylan McDermott's Captain Dave. A boozy and ego-driven extrovert who probably assumes "the friendly skies" refers to his (often unprofessional) fraternizing, Captain Dave exudes a charming obliviousness that saves him from being an ignorant asshole. Following in the footsteps of The Office's Michael Scott, The IT Crowd's Douglas Reynholm and others, McDermott's pilot is a dimbulb-in-charge that we can't take our eyes off of. Too much of him would be a bad thing, but I still found myself wishing LA to Vegas put him in more scenes; like, in all of them.
LA to Vegas was created by Lou Zimmet, who has written and produced episodes on a host of winning comedies, from Happy Endings to Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt to I'm Sorry, and the new Fox series shares each of those shows' winning mixture of irreverence and character work. Also on board in the development process was executive producer and episode director Steven Levitan, best known for creating shows such as Modern Family and Just Shoot Me!, and LA to Vegas showcases the rapid-fire dialogue that Levitan shows are known for. Admittedly, the Fox show likely wouldn't win any battles against any of those aforementioned shows, but it's tough competition.
No one should ever mistake LA to Vegas as news footage or a docu-seres, since it would be horrifying to believe that this is the kind of thing that goes on in the airline industry. (And airlines wouldn't want that, either.) But viewers' suspension of disbelief only has to go as far as it does for other Fox comedies, so LA to Vegas is allowed to thrive in its salacious goofiness, and it does just that. This is a comedy that could easily last for quite a few years, given all the storytelling real estate it offers, but if for nothing else, LA to Vegas deserves to stay on the air a dozen years simply for giving audiences a chance to watch the psuedo-namesakes Dylan McDermott and Dermot Mulroney finally go head to head on the small screen. Lo, it was as magical as we'd have hoped.
L.A. to Vegas will make its sky-faring debut on Fox on Tuesday, January 2, at 9:00 p.m. ET. To see what other new and returning shows are hitting the small screen soon, head to our 2018 midseason premiere schedule.
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Nick is a Cajun Country native, and is often asked why he doesn't sound like that's the case. His love for his wife and daughters is almost equaled by his love of gasp-for-breath laughter and gasp-for-breath horror. A lifetime spent in the vicinity of a television screen led to his current dream job, as well as his knowledge of too many TV themes and ad jingles.