An LA film buff fleeing her cheating spouse discovers a ragtag bunch of misfits—some alive, some dead, and some in between.
San Francisco promises a refuge for Southern California native Nora Paige, whose movie-star husband, Ted Bishop, has run off with his gorgeous young co-star. Her best friend, showrunner Roberta Prowse, offers Nora a cottage in Presidio Heights along with a slightly threadbare movie house to manage. The Palace is a niche theater that specializes in the classic films Nora loved as a child. And her encyclopedic knowledge of film history allows her to craft showings like a Stanley Donen triple bill that delight her loyal but aging patrons. Naturally, a niche theater is staffed by what might be considered niche personnel, including 80-something ticket taker Albert Lockhart, grumpy projectionist Marty Abrams, and cheerful cashier Callie Gee, who berates Nora for letting her “man-slut of a husband go off on location with the most beautiful actress on the planet” but offers comfort in the form of a referral to Monica Chen, proprietor of The Potent Flower, the neighborhood weed shop. The nichiest of the Palace’s crew is undoubtedly usherette Trixie George, who died in 1937 but who’s eerily present to current-day Nora, one of the few living people who can see her. Trixie provides Nora with a unique if dated orientation to the Palace. She’s also the one best placed to help Nora figure out how former drug lord Raul Acosta ended up dead in the Palace’s auxiliary ice machine. Tracking Raul’s killer while riding herd on her eccentric staff provides Nora little rest but ample distraction from Ted’s antics back home.
The series debut of the Palace Theater is edgy enough to push a timeworn formula from the basement up to the balcony. Dumas adds just enough zany to her mix to have readers lining up for more.