Viva Laughlin: BuddyTV Fall 2007 Preview
Viva Laughlin: BuddyTV Fall 2007 Preview
John Kubicek
John Kubicek
Senior Writer, BuddyTV
Premiere Date and Time: Thursday, October 18, 10pm (special night and time)

Regularly Scheduled Date and Time: Sunday, October 21, 8pm

Network: CBS

Time Slot Competition: Extreme Makeover: Home Edition, Sunday Night Football, The Simpsons and King of the Hill, Life is Wild

Cast: Lloyd Owen, Madchen Amick, Carter Jenkins, Ellen Woglom, Eric Winter, D.B. Woodside, P.J. Byrne, Hugh Jackman, Melanie Griffith

The most out-there new show of the season is easily Viva Laughlin, CBS' attempt to adapt the British series Viva Blackpool for American audiences. Part murder mystery, part Broadway musical, Viva Laughlin is an unusual mixture of genres and styles that may leave many viewers scratching their heads or reaching for their remotes, but those viewers will miss out on a truly unique experience.

The show stars Lloyd Owen as Ripley Holden, a self-made millionaire who has dreams of opening a huge casino in Laughlin, Nevada. He's a man with a big ego and even bigger dreams, but it's not easy. One of his investors tries to pull out, and winds up dead in the casino the next day.

The cast of Viva Laughlin is full of likely suspects. There's the investor's cheating, gold-digging wife Bunny (Melanie Griffith) who is not only sleeping with Ripley, but also Marcus (D.B. Woodside, 24), the right-hand man of Las Vegas casino mogul Nicky Fontana (film star Hugh Jackman, who also produces the show). Nicky and Ripley are constantly at odds, as Nicky as plans to buy out his competitor. Investigating this murder is Peter Carlyle (Eric Winter, recently seen as Senator McCallister's gay brother Jason on Brothers & Sisters). In the British version, that role was played by the current Doctor Who, David Tennant. That should give you a good idea how quirky and off-beat the detective is.

Fans of the British won't be disappointed. The musical numbers are still in tact, with the main character busting into choreographed Broadway routines, singing along to popular hits like “Viva Las Vegas.” It's jolting and unsettling the first time this happens, but if you allow yourself to suspend your disbelief, the musical numbers become a highlight and not tedious.

While it's unlikely that such a different show will gain mass appeal, the cast alone should ensure it cult status. Woodside was Principal Robin Wood on Buffy the Vampire Slayer. Ripley's wife is played by Madchen Amick, from both Twin Peaks and Gilmore Girls. And Veronica Mars fans will light up when they discover Ripley's teenage daughter is dating a college professor played by Patrick Fabian (Professor Hank Landry from season 3).  Combine those stars with the kitsch appeal of a crime drama/musical and you have a recipe for a show that will be loved by a few and ignored by most.

Viva Laughlin is also getting a huge vote of confidence from CBS. It will get a special premiere Thursday, October 18 following a new episode of CSI before moving to its regular slot, Sundays at 8pm. That added exposure should get a few people hooked.

Get all the scoop and features on the Fall 2007 new and returning shows at BuddyTV's Fall TV Guide >>

-John Kubicek, BuddyTV
(Photo courtesy of CBS)