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What happens in-flight to Vegas stays in…
Oh, never mind. It is surprising a version of that joke hasn’t shown up in the first two episodes of the new FOX sitcom LA to Vegas — hokey cliches about the destination city abound. But there are also a few inside jokes that frequent fliers might appreciate in this workplace comedy that takes place on the fictional Jackpot Airlines’ hourlong trip from Los Angeles to Las Vegas.
Created by Lon Zimmet (Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt), the series is executive produced by Will Ferrell and Adam McKay, and the first episode is directed by Steve Levitan (Modern Family), so that should give you a sense of the kind of humor they shoot for — and only sometimes land. (Pardon the pun.)
Debuting to mixed reviews, the half-hour comedy still goes down like a thimble of tequila on a flight to Cabo. Perhaps you’ll see yourself in one of the dreamers heading just slightly east for a rich pay day, only to come home disappointed. Or in flight attendant Ronnie (a very funny Kim Matula), who also has big dreams of getting on the JFK route. Or in Dylan McDermott’s sad-sack Captain Dave, whose glory days appear neither behind nor ahead of him. Come to think of it, most of the characters are seeking a fresh start — yet here they are, making the same mistakes and taking the same flight every weekend. Or perhaps I’m overthinking it. This is supposed to be a light, joke-a-minute piece of fluff. Here’s what viewers should expect before boarding.
1. It Nails the Budget Part of a Budget Airline
No one’s bragging about mileage stats like George Clooney’s pro flier in Up in the Air. For most of these folks (including a professional gambler and an equally professional stripper), flying is a necessary evil to get them to their happiest place on earth. Which is just as well, because flying budget really is evil: On Jackpot Airlines, there are no assigned seats and when Artem (Peter Stormare), gets annoyed when a “baby man” is sitting in his lucky seat, flight attendant Ronnie tells him to pay the extra seven dollars for priority boarding. Also, the fridge is broken and they’re only serving warm beer. Sound familiar?
2. You’ll Wonder About Your Fellow Passengers
The quirky gang’s all here—there’s Nichole the stripper (Olivia Macklin), who doesn’t need a big suitcase because “all her clothes fit in her wallet” and Artem, who can’t stop placing bets mid-flight. They might make you want to strike up a conversation on your next flight, if only to find a story as interesting as the one’s here. The main plot is a will-they-or-won’t-they romance between impulsive Ronnie and buttoned-up Colin (Ed Weeks, from The Mindy Project) and the show ties together everyone as a quasi “flight family” that bickers, bonds and cracks jokes (most of which come from flight attendant Bernard, played by Nathan Lee Graham).
3. You’ve Never Met a Captain Like Captain Dave
Look! A smug divorced Muay Thai-trained captain who says things like, “Time to get high … and also fly this old bird. Just a little captain’s joke. I never get high when I’m flying. Unless I’ve mistimed the edible.” Har-har. In a rare comedic role, Dylan McDermott is amusing as egotistical yet insecure Captain Dave, who grew up wanting to be a fighter pilot, not “flying the puddle jumper to Vegas.” and trying to have sex with passengers in the cockpit. His mustache and soul patch situation couldn’t be more perfect.
4. Las Vegas is a Cliche (of course)
According to the show, the only reason people fly to Sin City is to “cheat on their wives and butt-smuggle Molly.” They’re…not wrong, I guess, but in the first episode, there’s also a pair of high school sweethearts eloping, a second stripper who’s pregnant and girl celebrating her 21st birthday who just wants to puke at home.
5. It Highlights the Infuriating Parts of Traveling
On the flight out, passengers are riding high, shouting “Vegas! Vegas! Vegas!” A quick 10 seconds reveal exactly how a weekend in Las Vegas works — EDM clubs, slots, tequila, blackjack. Suddenly, you’re back at McCarran International (LAS), desperate to be home and hear: “Bad news, everybody. Flight 1322 will be delayed at least another hour.” (Been there.)
6. Flight Attendants Really DGAF (Until They Do)
The show opens with Ronnie rushing to front of the security line — a woman calls her a dick for cutting, so, points for accuracy there. Faced with the TSA agent’s stern “No liquids” command, she chugs her hot coffee, burning her tongue. (Also been there.) Then she rushes down the jet bridge, pulling on her uniform. Yet, for all her recklessness, she kind of runs the show and helps Captain Dave land the plane with a pep talk. Flight attendants are multifaceted! (Especially the one who got fired from Delta after “freaking out and sprinkling bacon all over the vegan meals.”)
7. The Travel Jokes Soar and Sink
Ready for this? “The JFK route is so sad. The only reason people fly to New York is to work and, ugh, to see plays. Even the name JFK … so tragic.” How about this, about a love interest’s marital status: “I didn’t realize you had so much baggage.” My favorite bit was when Ronnie says she wants to have one flight without “fighting, vomiting or fake emotional support animals.” (The animal in question is Darryl the duck, who does seem to lend an air of security and stability everywhere he goes.)
8. The Mile-High Club Makes an Appearance
No sitcom’s complete without a mismatched couple who just can’t seem to get their timing right. When Colin, an uptight British professor of economics at UCLA and Ronnie try to have sex in the bathroom, it’s even grosser than you imagine it to be. (One tip: She tells him to never touch the toilet seat lid with your hands.) If you’ve ever fantasized about falling in love with your seat mate — so much randomness! romance! possibility! — your dreams will probably be squashed.
9. You Might Get Freaked Out to Fly
LA to Vegas certainly doesn’t glamorize the airline industry and, if anything, highlights the strangeness of being trapped in a flying box with strangers — an act that you actually paid for (or, hopefully, used points for). There’s no overhyped drama (like in the short-lived LAX) or chic style (like in the also short-lived Pan Am). In fact, there’s little drama at all, unless you count the dude who dies mid-flight. (In case you were wondering, airline protocol says they can’t officially acknowledge death on a plane; they have to wait until landing, then he’s pronounced dead on the tarmac.)
10. But One Flight Might Change Your Life
After the high school sweetheart’s fiancée leaves him to become a stripper — getting the idea from the motley crew onboard, of course — the spurned lover proclaims about his ex: “Before she got on this plane she was just a normal girl,” highlighting how quickly and impulsive people can become after casting off the shackles of their lives on the ground.
“This plane is full of monsters,” he says, and you might start to wonder, Aren’t they all?
LA to Vegas airs Tuesdays at 9pm on FOX. Check out the trailer, below:
Images courtesy of Fox.
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