Despite rough economic times, Bravo continues to peddle the fabulous life, from the three-pronged “Real Housewives” franchise to Rachel Zoe. Yet even those programs look austere compared with this opulent travelogue featuring luxury tour operator Sara Duffy, whose premiere drops more designer names than an entire season of “Sex and the City.” Vicarious escapism might be just what the doctor ordered when more people can barely afford cable, but to a casual eye, Bravo’s lineup sounds increasingly tone-deaf — pushing $1,000-a-night hotels and caviar dreams to a nation in the throes of 401(k) nightmares.
“First Class All the Way” focuses on Rose McGowan look-alike Duffy in her role as proprietor of a high-end travel concierge service, whose assignment in the opening hour involves accompanying a group of snooty women on a lavish girls’ getaway to France.
Since every show such as this must conjure up some excuse for drama, Duffy’s high-heeled SWAT team of travel babysitters leaps into action when one of their charges has her purse stolen, creating the very real possibility that she might be forced to (gasp) fly coach.
After that crisis is averted, though, it’s all about visiting palaces, helicoptering into Monaco, sipping Champagne and cooing as suave hired help with Pepe Le Pew accents fawn all over them.
Mostly, Duffy boasts about things like “scoring a yacht in high season when nobody else can” while counseling her co-worker to dress appropriately around their “very discerning” clients. (One patron is listed as being a mortgage broker, and viewers can take some consolation in speculating about whether the participants’ net worth has plummeted as far as that skin around the eyes will once the Botox injections stop.)
The teaser for future episodes promises lots of the requisite catfighting among Duffy’s all-female-plus-one-gay-guy staff (there must be an unwritten rule somewhere about that ratio), as well as an excursion to Tuscany with “Heroes’ ” Leonard Roberts and entourage, yachting in Capri with “Shark’s” Sam Page and wine-tasting in Napa.
The venues do appear “First Class.” It’s only in terms of originality and timing that the show looks largely second rate.