Faking Florida: Which TV Show Does the Worst in Reproducing the Sunshine State?
For me, it's the clothes.
Watching CSI: Miami's Horatio Cane chase down a bad guy in a dark blue suit and black shirt, his flawless hair fluttering in a cool breeze, I laugh -- well aware as a Florida resident that, if they were actually filming that show in Miami, Cane would be reduced to a puddle of sweat and polyester in minutes.
Still, because the costs of location shooting remain a challenge -- and some stars and producers prefer to work close to showbusiness' company town, Los Angeles -- TV shows are faking Florida more often.
The latest to try it is CBS' Cane, an epic drama about a wealthy Cuban-American family set in a town which looks suspiciously like West Palm Beach. I admit being impressed when I walked through the cavernous soundstages housing meticulous recreations of Palm Beach-area mansions; from the detailed tile work to the ornate balcony railings, vibrantly colored walls and high-ceilinged rooms, they nailed the look of the Spanish-style mansions which dot that side of the state.
In my story today on Cane, I focused more on Smits, an earnest guy who I first met two years ago when I profiled him for Hispanic magazine. Interviews for stories like that are always long and feel a little like psychoanalysis, so he remembered the encounter when I saw him in Los Angeles in July, making sure I was comfortable and had everything I needed to get a close look at his ambitious project.
So the question remains: Who does -- or has done in the past -- the worst job mimicking Florida on the small screen?
Here's my look at the shows aping Florida right onw:
Excuse for filming in California: cost savings.
Does it work? CBS does a decent job making Pasadena and Long Beach pass for Miami. But cool as redhead David Caruso looks in his blue suits, any real-life Horatio Caine would sweat half his weight off dressing like that in Magic City.
Reason for filming in Florida: Just look at it.
Does it work? Cane director Sandy Bookstaver also films this show, with lingering shots of beachfront hotels and picturesque marinas. Even the daylight looks hotter in this series, which turns Miami into a cast regular with spectacular results.
Does it work? Sticking to lower-class locales - cheap apartment complexes, police department offices and such - producers mimic Miami well. But the show's pilot, shot entirely in Miami with deep blue skies and signature neighborhoods, reveals what Showtime's serial killer drama is missing.
Does it work? Set designers do their homework: Palm Beach film commission staffers still buzz about CBS's visit to their version of Rodeo Drive, Worth Avenue. And the characters walk around in T-shirts and guayaberas, as if it were, you know, hot outside.