First Class All the Way



Airdate: 9-10 p.m. Monday, Nov. 3 (Bravo)

Chalk this one up to wretched timing. Or perhaps amazingly fortuitous timing. It's a new reality series from Bravo that peers in on the outrageously opulent vacations of the fabulously wealthy, a sort of "Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous" minus the famous part. The question: Will a debt-riddled nation devastated by a ravaged economy, record-level home foreclosures and a looming credit crisis flock to watch a show that details how the richest of the rich splurge while on holiday?

You might figure watching this to be cruel and unusual punishment at this moment in time, given that the people being showcased here make J.R. Ewing look like a panhandler. It also doesn't help that "First Class All the Way" is so singularly shallow and banal, with its protagonist demonstrating an almost shocking lack of real-world perspective and self-awareness. Then again, perhaps the secret is in removing any expectation of witnessing insight and profundity from the outset.

The show centers on Sara Duffy, the founder of a Los Angeles-based luxury travel concierge service called SRD International. Her job, and that of her assistants, is to cater to the extravagant green (as in money) dreams of high-end clients as they traverse the globe. It's the usual stuff, including private yachts, multimillion-dollar villas and insanely expensive resorts. Duffy and her cohorts accompany the billionaires and socialites on their shamelessly lavish excursions. Yet the prevailing feeling while watching this stuff unfold in the premiere is less jealousy and resentment than extreme boredom, mostly because Duffy appears to be such a self-absorbed stuffed shirt. Consider that the hour's highlight comes when one of her workers breaks down in tears because she fears she'll never achieve the wealth level of the firm's customer base. Watching the lady's ludicrous meltdown is plenty sufficient to leave viewers craving their own vacation -- from television.