When nightclub managers tell wanna-be models — in all seriousness — that they realize they have complicated lives, real people roll their eyes and guffaw. When that occurs on “South Beach,” most viewers will be at wit’s end wondering why they have put up with the ludicrous plot, the inane dialogue and the pitiful characters squeezed between the glamour shots of southern Florida. Hourlong flops miserably in an attempt to be the East Coast version of “The OC.”
UPN has parked two hours of this drivel into its premiere slot, revealing that it doesn’t get all that interesting nor does it escape the cliches of buff boys and girls being their trite, narcissistic and shallow selves as they struggle with life’s inconveniences. The scripts are sophomoric, the acting wooden and the direction uninspired — show starts so thin it must have been on the South Beach Diet for months.
“South Beach” centers on two Brooklynites, Matt (Marcus Coloma) and Vincent (Chris Johnson), who head for sunnier climes in the hopes of finding Matt’s old flame Arielle (Odette Yustman). She, naturally, is a stunner, who has moved to Miami and has quickly hooked up with nightclub manager Alex Bauer (Lee Thompson Young).
Vincent gets the sort of job one would expect a talentless new-kid-in-town would get — gofer for the mysterious underworld figure Robert Fuentes (Giancarlo Esposito). Matt fares much better: He suddenly becomes the security chief at a hip hotel where he is bequeathed Armani suits and allowed to provide input to architects on the design of the hotel grounds. It’s as unreal as he is uncomfortable in his new skin.
Matt’s boss is Elizabeth Bauer (Vanessa Williams), who happens to be Alex’s mother and has a thing for younger men. See how quickly all the lines can get crossed? Well, we haven’t even gotten to the coke-snorting, fading prima donna model who used to date Alex, then wrote a book that inspired Arielle and now is a kleptomaniac helping to drive a wedge between the former lovers … Oh enough already! Besides, there’s a ridiculous rap video subplot that should entice fans of reggaeton rapper Pitbull to tune in.
Not surprisingly, the action is set at the hotel, a nightclub and the beach. Each actor plays his or her character with a certain nonchalance that keeps “South Beach” from venturing toward jutting-jaw daytime soap opera or the look of lustful longing that fills so many p.m. soaps. Even Esposito lacks the intensity he used to great effect on “Homicide” and “The Street.”
Williams, too, is stuck in a middle ground that hides her character’s intentions. She doesn’t play Elizabeth with any sultriness; she appears to be another attractive business woman living in the ho-hum world of hotel management.