Much has been said about the unconventional format for CBS’ new series Viva Laughlin. The non-traditional song and dance drama has never been tested for weekly television programming. Even CBS Entertainment chief Nina Tassler acknowledges the risk they’re taking with such a far-fetched idea as that employed by Viva Laughlin.
“I totally see [Laughlin] as a risk,” Tassler confessed. “That’s why we went for it. We see it as something groundbreaking and provocative.”
Series star Lloyd Owen spoke to CanMag last month about Viva Laughlin and its chances.
“I only saw one episode, actually, of the BBC original, which is fortunate, I think, for me because then I don’t have anything to get in my way,” Owen remarked. “I’ve chosen not to watch it yet, but I might get to a position where I do that. I think, from what I saw in one, and where we have, in our episode one, they’re very different already, both characters, and I think it’s for the best. Some things translate a certain amount culturally, but then there’s a limit, and I think they’re very different.”
Lloyd was talking about Viva Laughlin as compared to the British original, Viva Blackpool, from which it was based. Owen certainly knows more than a thing or two about the cultural differences that sometimes get lost in translations such as between two very similar shows in two separate countries. Owen happens to be one of a slew of British imports set to grace this year’s TV fall season.
As a native of the U.K., Owen holds Hollywood film-making in very high regard, while recognizing the talent and creativity that abound in both the U.K. and the U.S.
“My experience of watching television in the UK is that we all watch American programs, actually, and those are what we’re trying to [emulate],” the actor admitted. “There definitely are some very good shows in both countries, but I think it’s a generalization to say either one or the other. I really do. I think there’s pure talent in both countries, and they produce according to their cultures. And both seem to work and cross over. That’s the truth.”
Owen also touched a little bit on his character, Ripley Holden, as well as the musical numbers he occasionally has to break into. Despite being an accomplished baritone, the actor still encountered certain challenges and limitations.
“That’s what I personally love about Ripley,” Owen said, referring to Viva Laughlin‘s premiere episode where his character bets everything on a game of roulette. “Here’s a guy who, if he’s going to own a casino, should never gamble, but there’s something just slightly gone in him that makes him take a choice there. He’s not 100 percent stable at times and not to get into an essay about gambling, but I have a friend in mind who did a play about poker, and then he ended up giving up being an actor and he now gambles in casinos. But he will do that worldwide, and he’ll end up going through a five-day competition of poker and he’ll win it. Then, on his way out, he’ll put it all on the roulette table. That’s a gambler. That’s the nature of gambling.”
As for his singing, Owen brought up his “Viva Las Vegas” duet with the King, Elvis Presley.
“He was very generous to me ’til we had to hit that last note,” Owen said in jest. “The difficult thing for that one was that his range is a lot higher than mine. He’s a tenor, and I’m a bass baritone, so to find that range was quite tough at times, particularly the end, actually. But I loved it.”
-Rosario Santiago, BuddyTV Staff Columnist
(Image Courtesy of BBC)