Viva Laughlin
Pilot

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Jeff Long: D | Grade It Now!
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Drop The Pilot

In a magnificent anticlimax, Nicky falls back from a roulette table onto which he's climbed, into the arms of waiting, giggling showgirls. Ripley and Jonesy are looking on -- they're ready to pitch.

Ripley and Jonesy enter Nicky's plush office overlooking the Nevada desert. Opera is playing in the background and he's smoking a cigar. Derivative much? Ripley asks after Nicky's mother, who just turned 80. She's fine. Nicky says that he saw Cheyenne recently and she's "growing up real fast." Ripley brags that she's smart. Nicky says, "Yeah, she looks smart. That's what I noticed about her." This gets a chuckle from Nicky's henchman, who is standing silently to the side. That was kind of a funny joke, especially since I think I hate Ripley.

Now they get down to business. Ripley wants to offer Nicky a 25% stake in his casino hotel. Nicky reminds Ripley that he already has a casino hotel, but Ripley says he's going to open the first five-star hotel on the Colorado River, which apparently runs through Laughlin (and, I don't know if you've heard, but counting on the Colorado River might be akin to staking your future on the success of Viva Laughlin. Ripley's got the land next to his casino "tied up."

Nicky says that Ripley's success turning one convenience store into 12 ("13," Ripley corrects him) "goldmines" proves that he's a smart guy. However, Nicky plays golf with Ripley's bank manager and knows that he is overextended financially. He's going to wait for the fit to hit the shan and then buy the Viva at a bargain price. He offers Ripley the role of manager at the Viva once he, Nicky, has purchased it. Ouch. They turn him down.

Later, walking outside, Nicky asks his henchman if he's still having an affair with Bunny Baxter. That's an affirmative ("Every other Thursday at 4 PM"). Nicky hands the guy an envelope with a cash-shaped protuberance and says it's a "packet of appreciation" for her. Nicky wants him to make sure that Bunny makes Buddy invest in the wind farms. His suggestion is for the henchman to "get there first." I guess they expect Ripley to go to Bunny. The henchguy likens Bunny to a "toll-booth," but Nicky's having none of it. "Fix it," he and henchguy say in unison. STUPID. Nicky walks away, puffing on his cigar and looking at a girl's ass.

Somewhere else, Ripley greets Spence with "Hey, Shakespeare." He asks him if he just finished his lecture in Advanced Lechery 101, which really wouldn't make it "advanced," would it? Even my closed captioning knows that's a mistake and reads instead, "A Man's Lechery 101," but that makes even less sense. Spence just tries to walk away, but Ripley follows him, telling him to stop seeing his daughter. Spence says that it's not his fault that Cheyenne is a "babe" and "maybe she's the one chasing me." So, Ripley slugs him, says, "I'm glad we see eye-to-eye on this," and walks away. So very very stupid. They couldn't think of anything at least a little more offensive for Spence to say? Are we just supposed to feel that Ripley is a raving lunatic? Because nothing that happened is really warranting this reaction. Fine, the guy's a little old, but he's acting a lot more respectful than most guys Cheyenne's age would. At least Evan Rachel Wood isn't your daughter. I mean that in the Marilyn Manson way, not the Thirteen way. Though, wow, she's really making a career out of depicting the different stages of parental torture, isn't she?

Ripley's in his car as we hear an answering machine message he apparently left for Jonesy. He is taking his advice and will attempt to finesse Bunny. She's waiting for him when he arrives. Thankfully, the writers have left no cliché unturned -- Bunny is played by Melanie Griffith. She's wearing a negligee, smoking a cigarette, and drinking a cocktail. She calls him Ripples and asks him where he got his "fancy Italian car." He says that it's German and reminds her that she took a ride in it six months earlier. Hmm. I didn't realize their entanglement was so recent. I'm all for a flawed hero, but this guy is just an asshole. Her dog barks and she screams at it to shut up. Okay, I know she's an acquired taste, but sometimes I acquire it. Come on! She's got a mind for business and a bod for sin! How can you not love her at least a little? …I'm just asking for it with that question. Never mind. RELATIVELY, though, she is totally not the worst part of this show. At least not yet. She offers Ripples a bourbon, but he declines. He's not fun anymore, she says. She says that he's not who he is pretending to be -- "hubby-poo and daddy-da and all that Norman Rockwell crap." He wants her to talk to Buddy. She laughs and says how funny it is that Buddy is always thinking of new ways to just give away his money. So, why can't he give some to Ripples? See, that makes no sense. Buddy acted like he was making a serious investment and needed to focus on the wind farm stuff. Bunny is making it sound like he's just having fun.

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Viva Laughlin

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