January 2, 2018

SHOWBUZZDAILY Series Premiere Review: “LA To Vegas”


LA TO VEGAS:  Tuesday 9PM on FOX – In the Queue

Broadcast TV kicks off its new scripted series year with FOX’s well-paced LA TO VEGAS, a mostly retro workplace sitcom with a small twist:  Lon Zimmet’s series takes place almost entirely on the roundtrips of the titular run, operated by the Southwest-like Jackpot Airlines.

The characters are mostly from the sitcom textbook.  Our protagonist is determined but scattered flight attendant Ronnie (Kim Matula), who has dreams of a better job (or at least a better route), and whose romantic life is inevitably a mess.  Her flight partner is gay black Bernard (Nathan Lee Graham), a description that’s reductive but which accurately reflects all he has to do in the pilot.  The nature of LA to Vegas also requires some frequent fliers, who include degenerate gambler Artem (the always colorful Peter Stormare), stripper Nichole (Olivia Macklin), and Colin (Ed Weeks), an attractive British economics professor who has to fly to and from Vegas because his estranged wife (guest star Kether Donahue from You’re the Worst) and son live there, and who will serve as Ronnie’s will-they-or-won’t-they match on the show.  Finally, all workplace sitcoms need a crazy wild card character, its Reverend Jim or Kramer, and although Stormare is plenty eccentric, the showpiece role is Captain Dave (Dylan McDermott, making up for a career of serious drama), an arrogant, semi-alcoholic delusional womanizer.

Zimmet’s writing/producing credits include Happy Endings and The Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt, and the pilot was directed by Modern Family co-creator Steven Levitan, so LA to Vegas knows how to find laughs.  The opening half-hour is breezy and thoroughly professional.  The premise certainly allows for plenty of guest star zaniness with each new passenger list, but there’s also the risk of sameness, with every episode more or less retracing the same route, and with some of the same featured passengers on board.  There isn’t much to the plotting–of course the demure bride-to-be will become an exotic dancer between the flight to Vegas and the trip back–so the keys to the show’s long-term success will be charm and gags.  It will help that Matula is an appealing lead with crisp comic timing, and Stormare and McDermott have roles so broad that they can basically do anything on a week to week basis without breaking character.

LA to Vegas would actually have paired better with Brooklyn Nine-Nine, another wacky workplace comedy, than with the quasi-family yucks of The Mick, but the latter is owned by FOX’s in-house studio (at least until the Disney acquisition goes through), as is LA to Vegas, so the network is being a good corporate citizen.  The new show seems unlikely to be a breakout hit, but it should guide the night’s comedy line-up to a safe landing each week.




About the Author

Mitch Salem
MITCH SALEM has worked on the business side of the entertainment industry for 20 years, as a senior business affairs executive and attorney for such companies as NBC, ABC, USA, Syfy, Bravo, and BermanBraun Productions, and before that, at the NY law firm of Weil, Gotshal & Manges. During all that, he has more or less constantly been going to the movies and watching TV, and writing about both since the 1980s. His film reviews also currently appear on and In addition, he is co-writer of an episode of the television series "Felicity."