Somewhere between Dynasty and a telenovela, you can find the Grand Hotel premiere. The premise is centred around the last family-owned and -run hotel on the Miami strip. The family’s mother died sometime ago, leaving a son, a daughter and a husband. The daughter has just finished her MBA, and is returning home looking forward to running the hotel with her brother, assuming that the long-term plan still holds — eventually it will be the kids’ hotel.
Except Dad hasn’t told them he’s selling it. He’s been losing money for years, he has a new wife who doesn’t get along with the step-kids, and there is a lot of behind the scenes drama at the hotel:
- A concierge with the hots for a housekeeper;
- A housekeeper who’s pregnant thanks to a money guy at the hotel;
- The money guy who represents some loan sharks;
- A HR manager who has been with the hotel for years; and,
- A new all-purpose male staffer who can help act as waiter or whatever else needs doing.
Yet the intrigue starts in the midst of a hurricane. A chef from the kitchen has a meeting with the step-mom, and the step-mom speaks in oblique terms that the chef has something that doesn’t belong to her. The chef isn’t cowed however, as she calls the step-mom’s bluff, because the chef knows something about what the father has been doing. All general, no specifics, etc. And then in the middle of the hurricane, the chef is chased outside, she gets knocked out, and her body (dead or alive?) is dragged off. The action picks up one month later as the daughter returns from her graduation, just in time for her step-sister’s wedding.
And of course, most of the people are hot, well-dressed, and all jumping in each other’s beds.
Demián Bichir plays the father, Santiago, and he plays him like he’s suffering from a great weight. Like maybe he’s dying or something. A lot of IMDB credits, none of which I’m familiar with. He’s okay, nothing special to watch.
Roselyn Sanchez plays the step-mother, Gigi. I thought she was okay back in the day on Without A Trace, but all dressed-up playing a caricature here? Straight out of telenovela casting. Pass.
Wendy Raquel Robinson plays the HR manager, Helen, and all she does in the premiere is threaten people. Like Bichir, lots of IMDB credits and none of them have I seen. Space filler, but who knows, maybe she’s a killer.
Shalim Ortiz plays the money man, Mateo. I liked him in Heroes, and he might have something to do in other episodes, but in the premiere, he doesn’t do much of anything.
I could follow this line and mention all the workers, but really, the only three with any real presence are the brother, the sister, and the new waiter who is hiding the fact he’s the brother of the chef who disappeared during the hurricane.
Denyse Tontz plays the daughter-with-the-MBA Alicia and while she is cute, a bit of the girl next door, spunky, has some grit and brains, etc., she just seems INCREDIBLY YOUNG. There is zero gravitas with her. She seems like a 12 year old disappointed that people aren’t jumping to support her ideas. She’s decent, but not enough to wrap a series around, even with her soap opera experience.
Bryan Craig plays her brother, Javi, and he has a bit of flair. Mostly picking up and sleeping with anything that moves. Even better if their boyfriend is nearby and it’s just a hookup. He’s missing a leg, cause unknown, but he’s happy to exploit the limb for sympathy if it gets him in some girl’s pants. I saw the first episode of last year’s Valor, but I don’t particularly remember him, and none of the other credits jump out at me either. He’s decent, and if he was the main character, it would be a toss-up for the future.
By contrast, Lincoln Younes as the undercover brother of the missing chef gets lots of screen time. Always looking sincere, always charming, always ingratiating, always eager to please. And it’s supposedly a shock at the end to realize he’s the chef’s brother (yeah, it was obvious), and it makes NO SENSE based on how he was acting with several other characters earlier. He’s reluctant to get further involved with the owner’s kids for example (Javi and Alicia) yet they are the perfect window into the operations at the Grand. You know, the thing he needs to find out what happened. Instead, he acts like he needs the job, kind of attracted to the sister, embarrassed (not afraid) when she finds out he’s a waiter, blah blah blah. Not egregious, just inconsistent. And like the previous two, not enough to wrap a series around.
If there was more about the missing chef, I might have felt SOMETHING, or if the daughter didn’t seem like a princess coming home to a coronation perhaps. Either way, without it, I’m not going to be watching, and I’m going to have to predict CANCELLATION. Something “more” has to happen to have any chance at renewal.