What happens in Miami doesn’t stay in Miami — at least, not if you stay at “The Catalina,” a 192-room, self-proclaimed “party hotel” providing the backdrop for the CW’s eponymous unscripted soap. Featuring the requisite assortment of tanned and toned bodies and staged situations, the whole enterprise is nearly done in by hotel owner Nathan Lieberman (with his dad, initially unseen), who seems far too eager to please and provoke. Beyond that, it’s the usual “Jersey Shore” wannabe, only situated on different but even less-authentic shores.
The premiere rifles through an assortment of hotel employees working for Lieberman, who — in his direct-to-camera interviews — can’t even play himself convincingly. Whatever his business acumen, the made-for-TV version of the dude sees nothing wrong in complimenting his GM for her “A-plus cleavage” or chasing around the female staff and spraying them with champagne.
While the crew might have really all worked for the hotel before the casting folk worked their magic, the collection of types is a touch suspicious. They include a blunt Polish restaurant manager, Morgan; and Nancy and Kris, the rooftop-pool bartenders with a romantic past, making for “Moonlighting”-type banter, if “Moonlighting” had been written by 14-year-olds.
“Did she see your penis?” Nancy asks, after hearing that Kris exchanged a kiss with another employee.
Actually, someone could make a pretty titillating pay-cable reality show set in a hotel, as some of the security-camera footage of passed-out guests and hallway encounters suggests. As is, “The Catalina” feels like a fairly sedate knockoff of numerous concepts, among them VH1’s “Saddle Ranch” and about half of Bravo’s lineup.
CW and fun in the sun certainly provide a logical coupling, but the half-dozen episodes ordered represent a long shot to do much to boost the netlet’s occupancy rates, beyond keeping the “We’re open” light on during the summer.
That said, given reality TV’s attraction to South Beach — usually portrayed as one step above Sodom and Gomorrah — it is amusing when one guy assigned to the pool area is cheerfully described as “a big ball of horny energy.”
Viewing “The Catalina” in those terms, no man is an island.