Surprise Hits and Misses: Viva Laughlin
Surprise Hits and Misses: Viva Laughlin
In BuddyTV's 2007 Fall TV Guide, we scoured the new shows for this year's biggest potential hits and misses. We found the ones that you should be following and which ones will probably get canceled early. The hits include Journeyman, Kid Nation and Dirty Sexy Money while the misses are Samantha Who?, Viva Laughlin, and Nashville.

Viva Laughlin
is a new quasi musical-drama-mystery from CBS that follows wannabe casino owner Ripley Holden as he strives to open a successful casino in Laughlin, Nevada.  His rival is Nick Fontana, a wealthy and charismatic casino owner, played by movie star and show executive producer Hugh Jackman.  Viva Laughlin is based on the similarly themed English show Viva Blackpool.  I've never seen Viva Blackpool, but if it's anything like Viva Laughlin, it's a miracle that anyone ever watched it.  Viva Laughlin is the worst pilot I've seen in ages.  It misfires on so many levels that it's astonishing.  This is why I believe Viva Laughlin will be one of the very first network shows to be canceled this season.  In fact, I'm almost certain the show will be off the air by December.

Let's start with why Viva Laughlin is so bad.  The show's hook, its gimmick, is that the characters will randomly break into song.  Which might be acceptable, if it were like a real musical, but it's not.  The characters merely sing along to famous pop songs. The key phrase here being “sing along.”  The original track plays in the background while the characters will intermittently sing along, often out of tune, and totally ruining a great song.  Hugh Jackman makes the most embarrassing move of his career by singing along to The Rolling Stones' “Sympathy for the Devil” during his character's introduction.  Melanie Griffith, who wears pounds of make-up, is even more disgraceful when she sings along to Blondie's “One Way or Another.”  She tries to be sexy, but that time for Melanie has passed and the result is almost nauseating.

There's a mystery at the heart of the show, but it looks to be a long arc and one I can't see audiences becoming terribly invested in.  Ripley Holden has to deal with his wife (wants attention), his daughter (wants approval), and his son (wants to help his dad) while juggling the construction and money problems of his own dream casino.  But, the drama just doesn't work.  Viva Laughlin, in general, doesn't work.  Whoever green lit this at CBS either didn't read the pilot script or was mesmerized by the mere thought of having Hugh Jackman on the network.  CBS will air a special preview of the Viva Laughlin pilot on Thursday, October 18 before its official premiere Sunday, October 21 at 8pm, where it should last, oh, a couple of weeks before CBS does everyone a favor and puts Viva Laughlin out of its misery.

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Read about why we think Samantha Who? and Nashville will also miss the mark this year and why Journeyman, Kid Nation and Dirty Sexy Money will be this year’s surprise hits. Comment and tell us what you think.

-Oscar Dahl, BuddyTV
(Image courtesy of CBS)