LA to Vegas Review (Spoiler Free)

LA To Vegas has the potential to be the season’s best new comedy thanks to smart writing and a glowing cast.

“If I can’t have some fun with my passengers, then why am I here?”

“To fly the plane. Go do that.”

Shows with gimmicky premises come and go all the time. Those programs initially appeal to audiences, but after the curiosity vanishes, there are usually diminishing returns. That’s because a show that leans on a gimmick or a heavy premise needs to have more than just that gimmick. A show like Mixology doesn’t necessarily fail because the audience gets tired of the premise, it’s that there wasn’t anything else there to hold up the flimsy idea. 

In that regard, LA to Vegas feels like one of these shows that people may check out due to their curiosity behind its premise. However, the difference here is that once viewers are on board, it won’t be long until they’re hooked. Yes, LA to Vegas relies on an extremely gimmicky idea, but it’s also just a well-written, wonderfully acted, hilarious piece of comedy. The series operates with such a wild, infectious quality that results in the chaotic comedy that helps give this show its unique perspective. Within the series it is often joked that the LA to Vegas flight route is a cesspool of humanity, but these characters who all have to deal with it on a regular basis have a surprisingly optimistic attitude. 

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LA to Vegas examines the lives and exploits of the flight crew and passengers of a regular weekend round-trip to Vegas. Every episode begins with the plane leaving from LA to Vegas on Friday and every episode concludes with the corresponding flight back on Sunday. It might seem rather limiting to restrict this entire series to the distilled weekly adventures of a round-trip flight, but LA to Vegas surprisingly makes it work.

A large reason for this show’s success is the brilliant character dynamics that are at play in this claustrophobic series. There is magnetic chemistry between this cast and all of their eccentric characters. Ronnie (Kim Matula), the head flight attendant for Jackpot Airlines, is the audience surrogate. She constantly has to babysit the pilot and keep flight business in check while also making sure that everything is fine with the passengers. The characters around Ronnie are all extreme stereotypes, but almost gleefully so. The show embraces these tropes while it uses Las Vegas as a scapegoat for broad characterizations like gambler and stripper. LA to Vegas still manages to make these characters affable and empathetic as it also fleshes them out beyond their exaggerated exteriors. 

The most memorable character from the mix is without a doubt Dylan McDermott’s egomaniacal Captain Dave. McDermott really chews the scenery here as he does his best Barney Stinson meets Ron Burgundy impression, but he sells the hell out of it. There’s also a little bit of Michael Scott’s neurosis thrown in there, too. Captain Dave is desperate to be everyone’s best friend and the most popular person in the room, no matter the cost. If this show ends up lasting, this role could really turn into something for McDermott. He takes to the smug asshole character exceptionally well and already feels quite at home in the role.

There’s something to be said for the fact that this is a show that’s full of characters who are beaten down and lead unglamorous lives. That’s not always the norm with television and this broadened perspective—as silly as it may be—is appreciated here. LA to Vegas also acts as a bizarre spin on a workplace sitcom as these characters are technically at their job, but there’s just a much larger, mobile scope to it all.

Episodes also breeze by due to accomplished dialogue, delightful banter, and smart scripts that know how to properly plot a story. The series comes from Lon Zimmet (Happy Endings, Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt, and the recent I’m Sorry) and it’s easy to feel the DNA of his previous comedies in this vehicle. There’s a line in one of the season’s earlier episodes about the Titanic and Billy Zane that feels like it’s straight out of Happy Endings, which is obviously a super positive thing.

The show doesn’t seem to be struggling with storylines at this point and hasn’t gotten too stuck on the whole airport angle, but it’s not hard to imagine that this may become a problem further down the road. That’s not to say that aspects of the program can’t change, but it does feel like a bit of a ticking time bomb as these talented writers slowly blow through their remaining ideas. That being said, at this point the show is doing just fine with content. There are also early signs of world building going on here which will be absolutely crucial once this show has more episodes under its belt. Captain Dave’s rival gets teased a number of times before he actually makes an appearance, which gives it a lot more weight. It’s also too damn perfect that the rival for Dylan McDermott’s Captain Dave is a pilot named Captain Steve who’s played by Dermot Mulroney. Clearly this show knows what it’s doing.

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It’s still early on into its run, but LA to Vegas deserves respect for embracing such a premise-y concept. It’s interesting to see how different episodes use the show’s travel construct to varying degrees. In certain episodes, like the pilot, it’s heavily prominent and the entire episode is set on the plane and about the trip. Other entries loosen up and move things into the airport or the surrounding Vegas area and the titular flight is merely a part of the plot rather than the focus.

LA to Vegas hits the ground running and begins with an encouraging stretch of episodes, but premise-heavy shows have a rampant history for not making it past their premiere seasons. In many cases, the shows don’t even get that far or are condemned to go through constant retooling until the show’s bold premise can barely be recognized. It’s for that reason that it’s unfortunately all too easy to picture LA to Vegas fall between the cracks and experience a similar fate. 

Hopefully this is not the case and LA to Vegas thrives because there’s something addictive and charming about this show and it’s certainly as funny as other Fox fare. This is a comedy that will really grow on you and there’s already enough creativity present in its first season that it deserves a chance to get to play around with a second year of stories. With Fox about to lose big comedy hits like New Girl and possibly others, now’s the time to invest in a program like LA to Vegas. It’s bold, unusual, and feels like it shouldn’t work, but there’s an energy present here that’s impossible to deny. Book your ticket today because LA to Vegas is full of first class laughs.

LA to Vegas premieres January 2nd at 9pm on Fox.

This review is based on the first three episodes of LA to Vegas’ first season.


3.5 out of 5