TV Highlights

What was on Saturday 23rd August

King of Coke: Living the High Life

National Geographic - 7.50pm

Who's in it?

It was like Miami Vice meets Breaking Bad last night, as we entered the strange world of Larry Lavin – ordinary dentist, family man, and cocaine kingpin.

In a nutshell

Every so often you see a documentary and think, "How has Hollywood NOT made a movie about this yet?" This was one of those documentaries. It told the saga of Larry Lavin, a seemingly upstanding citizen of 80s America, hard-working and caring, in charge of a suburban dental practice in Philadelphia. Who also happened to run one of the biggest, weirdest drug distribution networks in the States. Why weird? Because it was mainly manned by other white collar professionals like him.

As well as Ivy League-educated Larry, it included lawyers, stockbrokers, a school teacher, a HEAD teacher, accountants and record company execs (OK, maybe the last group isn't quite so surprising). Together, this "yuppie conspiracy" helped fuel the 80s appetite for coke, and Larry ended up too rich for his own good. Eventually, the money trail led right to him, and he was hit with an epic stretch inside. This film told the whole story, with the camera crew even poking around the actual surgery where Lavin did cocaine deals in between root canals. Clearly SOME people were very glad to see the dentist.

What's the verdict?

Like we say, this has movie written all over it. Not just because of the unlikely protagonist, but also for its encapsulation of an American era: a time of cocaine and excess, of untouchable yuppies and surreal criminality. Gripping stuff.

3/5

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07-07-2011