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REVIEW: 'Vegas' Doesn't Quite Hit The Jackpot



Set in the early 1960s when Las Vegas was just a wild frontier ripe for the picking, the new CBS drama Vegas has a few things going for it. Chief among them is the stellar cast that has been assembled, including big-time movie actor Dennis Quaid making his series television debut and settling comfortably into the role of Ralph Lamb, a rancher who reluctantly agrees to serve as Sheriff by the end of the premiere episode. Based on a real life rancher-turned-lawman, the role seems tailor made for Quaid and allows him to play to his strengths as an actor.


Established as Lamb's rival early on, Vincent Savino is a ruthless and violent gangster who can put on a good act for the public as he tries to get a foothold in the booming casino business. Michael Chiklis brings with him all of the gravitas and credibility he earned on FX's acclaimed police drama The Shield, giving Savino the ability to be menacing or charming depending on the situation. There's also Carrie-Anne Moss, most famous for her breakthrough role in The Matrix and its sequel, as Quaid's obvious love interest and former neighbor, Katherine O'Connell, who is now the assistant district attorney. Another familiar face shows up to play one of Ralph's brothers—Jason O'Mara, the former star of one-season series ABC's Life On Mars and FOX's Terra Nova. They all turn in fine performances here in the opener.


Executive produced by Nicholas Pileggi, the writer of period gangster classics Goodfellas and Casino, the period setting feels faithful to the era and gives you the sense that Las Vegas is on the cusp of becoming the massive tourist destination we know it as today. This is a time period and situation that hasn't been explored on television and there are many interesting ways to tell this story. Of course, since the show is on CBS, it turns into a procedural about ten or fifteen minutes into the episode, and that's where I lost interest.


Other retro series such as Pan Am and The Playboy Club bit the dust last season, and even AMC's critically acclaimed Mad Men is far from a ratings powerhouse. Hedging their bets, the producers have applied a case-of-the-week template to Vegas to appeal to the broadest audience possible. Our first episode sees Ralph Lamb investigating the murder of the governor's daughter with the help of his two younger brothers and then...zzzzzz. Procedurals are definitely not my cup of tea, and this one is no different.


While Vegas offers an outstanding cast and the possibility of conflicted characters operating in shades of grey, the procedural element kills it out of the gate for me. If this show were on HBO and not beholden to a stale and tired formula that is already being used in 75% of other network series, Vegas could be a very special project and shed some insight on an era that hasn't been widely explored on television. As it is, it's a solid show that will probably appeal to CBS' core demographics and fans of Dennis Quaid and Michael Chiklis. Unfortunately for me, what happened on Vegas will be staying on Vegas. All that glitters is not gold.


- Nicholas Pileggi
- Taylor Handley
- Jason O'Mara
- Carrie-Anne Moss
- Michael Chiklis
- Dennis Quaid
- Vegas

Written by: Chrononaut
Sep 25th, 2012, 3:11 pm


Message Posted On Oct 19th, 2012, 10:30 am
We have had 3 episodes so far , and its building up a plot line of the way vegas was , with mafia and such. I think it needs the chance to build up as the acting is excellent , the story lines are more then 1 case at a time it shows the behind the scenes of the corruption of vegas. And it shows the fact that good people did try and keep vegas clean and safe for every 1, the sheriff does a good showing of a man who just wants to do his job , the casino manager is the mafia front man with vision , which is stifled by the men above him. I think it could well be a good show , like the the series Crime story years back.

Level 2 (59%)
Points: 0.1
Since: 25/Feb/08
Message Posted On Oct 3rd, 2012, 2:46 pm

Seems the murder was not just a procedural thing.  It links to the fuller story of how these two main characters are going to clash because it's circumstances are linked with the mob guy.  we'll see about it, but I think it's a bit premature to judge it so harshly when it clearly has potential.  Also, I do agree more with the first commentor in that procedurals get a bad rap over all.


Level 3 (9%)
Points: 1.5
Since: 02/Aug/12
Message Posted On Sep 26th, 2012, 4:28 pm

I never even said it was bad, really, it just doesn't seem to be my thing. I acknowledged the excellent casting and the possibility for an intriguing series, but not if it's bogged down in a by-the-numbers procedural formula every week. It had me hooked until the murder investigation, as I would have preferred to get to know the characters a little better outside of that situation. I will probably watch the next episode to see if they switch it up.


Message Posted On Sep 26th, 2012, 11:28 am
Or maybe guys... :gasp: the reviewer just didn't like the show that much. I thought it was decent enough myself, but you guys are being childish. He's as entitled to his opinion as you two are.

Message Posted On Sep 26th, 2012, 10:46 am
I agree with previous poster. Mr. Thomas sounds like he is just trying to stir up controversy and score some points for himself with this bashing drivel. This appears to be a high quality show so far.

Message Posted On Sep 25th, 2012, 5:30 pm
It's discrimination plain and simple. Why procedurals can't be compelling storys with deep characters, multi-episode arcs and season long arcs ? Sure, network TV (i dare say basic cable too) has inherit limitations to creative freedom, but if you're real artist you will find a way to send your message. Format doesn't tell anything about what show is, it only define set of constraints. If you don't judge people by racial/gender stereotypes, why you should judge art by it's genre ? I must say i was expecting very high quality show and i fully got it.
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