Is VIVA LAUGHLIN The Worst TV Show Ever Made?

Greg Hassall
Is VIVA LAUGHLIN the worst TV show ever made? That's a big call, but the program is certainly one of the most ill-conceived.

The first big project from Hugh Jackman's production company, Seed, has been attracting all the wrong kind of headlines since premiering in the US last week.

It was hardly the buzz Nine was looking for before last night's Australian premiere.

Based on the six-part BBC series Blackpool, which aired on the ABC in 2005, it follows Ripley Holden's quest to open a casino. Viewers might have been surprised to find Holden is not played by Jackman but by the British actor Lloyd Owen, a name conspicuously absent from Nine's publicity. Jackman's minor role is as a rival casino owner.

The other thing missing from Nine's publicity was the dreaded M-word: musical. As in Blackpool, the characters break into song. However, they do so with an astonishing lack of conviction.

Like very bad karaoke, they warble along apologetically as the original songs play loudly in the background. Owen's casting is inexplicable. Not only is his American accent poor, he has a very ordinary singing voice. And the less said about Melanie Griffith's performance the better.

How did the US network CBS get this so wrong? One can only imagine its executives were looking for something quirky, in keeping with the trend for offbeat dramas (think Heroes, Ugly Betty, Life, Desperate Housewives). But they clearly lacked the courage of their convictions. Viva Laughlin has the fingerprints of nervous network executives all over it. In recent articles, those involved with the show played down its musical aspect. Their embarrassment flows through to the performances. If you're going to try something different, you've got to commit to it. In Blackpool the songs were attacked with such spirit that you were swept along for the ride. Here, they have no context. They seem to belong to an entirely different show and the actors seem relieved when they're over.

Channel Nine just can't take a trick. While its rivals enjoy the success of Bionic Woman, Heroes and House, it's stuck with this - a bad episode of Las Vegas, with songs. Nine's best hope last night was that viewers tuned in out of morbid curiosity. You have to work with what you've got and "the worst show on TV" is at least a talking point.

Viva Laughlin … may well be the worst new show of the season, but is it the worst show in the history of television?

The New York Times

Let us count the number of ways it bombs.

Laughlin is merely cheap and leaden, like a deflated balloon.

Weep … for Jackman's reputation, for all of us who have spent an hour gawking at a train wreck.


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1 comment:

BlackpoolBlog said...

I live in Blackpool, UK and the original was filmed at the end of my road. I watched the original and really enjoyed the music and the way the show didnt really take its self serious. Judging by all the comments I have heard the US remake just hasn't been done in the same spirit and I think its the original shows spirit and enthusiasm that worked so well. The original arcade is on the promenade next to the Illuminations, you can see the illuminations here Blackpool