SERIES "Grand Hotel"
WHEN|WHERE Premieres Monday at 10 p.m. on ABC/7
WHAT IT'S ABOUT The family-owned Grand Hotel in Miami is facing a crisis. Debts are mounting and so patriarch, widower, Santiago Mendoza (Demián Bichir), urged on by his new wife Gigi Mendoza (Roselyn Sanchez, "Without a Trace"), has decided to sell. Only problem is, he forgets to tell his adult children Javi (Bryan Craig, "General Hospital") and Alicia (Denyse Tontz, "The Fosters") about the plan. Alicia is just back from graduate school and has an idea that might save the place — which she wants to save, in part to honor the memory of her mother, Beatriz (played by Eva Longoria, briefly in flashback in some later episodes).
Meanwhile, something fishy is going on at the Grand and maybe the mysterious money guy Mateo (Shalim Ortiz), or HR boss Mrs. P (Wendy Raquel Robinson, "The Steve Harvey Show"), know what that is. A line cook who had stumbled onto the mystery, in fact, had gone missing during a hurricane, perhaps murdered, but no one wants to acknowledge her disappearance, or why she suddenly vanished. A new hotel waiter, Danny (Lincoln Younes), however, has a good reason for wanting to know what happened to her.
This mystery-soap is based on a Spanish telenovela, "Gran Hotel." Longoria is executive producer.
MY SAY What's so shocking about "Grand Hotel" is that it's not particularly shocking. If not "shocking" means disappointing, then maybe that's your call, but the promos did indicate trash: Lots of beefcake and wet T-shirts and wanton lust under the hot Miami sun. Instead, there is almost none of that here. Everyone at this hotel is largely civil, and nice — except of course the rapper Alicia hires to bring in business, or whoever did the murderous line cook deed, assuming it really was murderous. (I have my doubts.) There's only one bona fide soap fight in the pilot, and neither hair was pulled nor bodice ripped. The combatants (both male) didn't even get thrown into a pool.
Plus the hotel looks great: Not one of those places you've heard about in the news, where you dare not reach for the minibar, but a classy joint, with classy guests and staff, and a hotel boss who looks like Demián Bichir because he is Demián Bichir. (Principal photography took place at the Fontainebleau, so …) "The show looks like an Instagram feed," Longoria said during a recent "EW" interview, not inaccurately.
What's going on? What may be going is Longoria, who doesn't want to tarnish her newish and so far respectable career behind the camera ("Devious Maids," "Telenovela") with slop. She is also a founder of Time's Up and almost certainly understands that inappropriate behavior on-screen has an unintended way of manifesting itself off-screen; "Grand Hotel" reflects a sensitivity to that as well.
And so, neither slop, nor the obverse (a masterpiece), "Grand Hotel" resides squarely and benignly in the middle: A pleasant summer diversion with a good and absurdly telegenic cast that almost seems to be enjoying itself (because what's not to enjoy?) But besides that poor line cook, there is something else missing, specifically something "bold" or "provocative" (yup, those promos again"). Intent on being nice and largely inoffensive, "Grand Hotel" forgot to be much of anything else.
BOTTOM LINE Ho hum under the sun.