“Magic City” is one of the best-looking shows on TV right now, up there with “Mad Men,” “Breaking Bad,” and “Boardwalk Empire.” It’s set in 1959, in the elegant world of a fictional Miami Beach hotel called the Miramar Playa. Chaises and cabanas line the glamorous pool area behind the long, tall, curving structure. A giant shimmering aquarium fills a wall in the neon-lit bar. The hotel nightclub features Rat Pack-style entertainment. In the back offices, we hear the sound of chrome lighter-tops being flicked open and closed as cigarette smoke wafts though shafts of light.
It’s thoroughly transporting. The makers of the Starz show, which returns for season 2 on Friday at 9 p.m., have stunningly re-created a luxury establishment like the Fontainebleau, with marble floors in the grand lobby and pastel convertibles lined up in the carport. While “Mad Men” features a spare, theatrical vision of midcentury America, with each item – from a bowl of orange sherbet to a giant piece of op art – holding great visual weight, “Magic City” aims for a more sweeping view of the time. The exteriors are as evocative as the swanky interiors – and this being a waterfront setting infused with hot Florida sunshine and white sand, that’s a good thing.