Cast: Kim Matula (“UnReal,” “The Bold and the Beautiful”), Ed Weeks (“The Mindy Project”), Nathan Lee Graham (“Zoolander,” “Sweet Home Alabama”), Olivia Macklin (“The Young Pope”), Peter Stormare (“Fargo,” “Armageddon”), Dylan McDermott (“The Practice”), Amir Talai (“The Circle”)
Airs: The series premieres on Fox at 8 p.m. on Tuesday, January 2
The premise: This workplace comedy focuses on an airline crew and the eccentric passengers who, every weekend, take the roundtrip flight from Los Angeles to Las Vegas. The series is executive produced by Will Ferrell (“Anchorman: The Legend of Ron Burgundy,” “Elf”), Adam McKay (“The Big Short”), Lon Zimmet (“Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt”) and Steve Levitan (“Modern Family”).
Highs: “LA to Vegas” is filled with goofy, over the top, yet likable characters. Stewardess Ronnie (Kim Matula) and passenger Colin (Ed Weeks) constantly flirt, despite being complete opposites. Colin, a British born UCLA economics professor, is fastidious and geeky and carries an NPR tote bag. Ronnie is an underachiever with big dreams but lacks discipline. Their witty banter is silly and fun.
Artem, played by “that guy” actor Peter Stormare, is a Russian who loves to gamble. Quick to make friends and affable, he’ll place a bet on anything, even whether a marriage will fall apart or not. Nichole (Olivia Macklin) is a friendly exotic dancer, Bernard (Nathan Lee Graham) is pop culture referencing steward, and Alan (Amir Talai) is the constantly smiling simpleton co-pilot.
In the three episodes I watched, each member of the cast had a moment where they stood out but the star of the show is Captain Dave, played hilariously by Dylan McDermott. He brags about his muay thai prowess to passengers, has a rivalry with another pilot (ironically played by Dermot Mulroney) and throws out plenty of solid one-liners. My personal favorite is, “British men are basically American women.” Yes, that’s somewhat offensive but I was born in England and even I could laugh at that one.
Lows: Some of the situations in “LA to Vegas” will make some people feel uncomfortable. There’s a kids birthday party at a strip club, a dead body carried through the aisle of the plane, and plenty of colorful language and topics of conversation that you really wouldn’t want to hear from an actual flight crew. While everything is done in jest, if you’re easily offended the humor in this series won’t click for you.
A bit more troubling is that the comedy in “LA to Vegas” is inconsistent. For every thought provoking quip about being a divorced parent such as, “Its like a 48 hour test you take every week but you don’t know how you did for 20 years,” there is an equally mundane joke about something not nearly as interesting, like the size of Canadian money. The lack of balance messes with the rhythm of the show’s humor.
Grade: (C+): Debuting a comedy early in January can be a tricky proposition. People are still in holiday mode and many are traveling, so it’s a tough time to find an audience. I remember falling for the 2016 CBS comedy “Angel from Hell,” which starred Jane Lynch, and it ended up getting cancelled after one 13 episode season. I hope that doesn’t happen to this show. An unconventional comedy that’s refreshing and unique, I hope “LA to Vegas” will have a bright future.
Gazette media columnist Terry Terrones is a member of the Television Critics Association and the Broadcast Television Journalists Association. You can follow him on Twitter at @terryterrones.