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TV Review: Vegas Premieres Tuesday on CBS

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Take two genres, mash them up into a period setting and you have the ingredients for a hit television series. The new CBS series Vegas merges crime drama with western, setting it all up in 1960 Las Vegas. It was a time when the Vegas Strip was becoming a hot destination, fueled by organized crime bosses looking to make a killing in the wild, wild West. But local ranchers were wary (and rightly so) as urban creep encroached on ranch lands by highway, byway and low-flying airplanes that scattered the herds and set the ranches nerves on edge.

Based on real life Las Vegas Sheriff Ralph Lamb, Vegas stars Dennis Quaid, in a role that seems tailor made for him. Quaid’s smart-but-rough-around-the-edges persona rancher-turned-lawman Lamb like a pair of well-worn cowhide gloves. Having made a reputation as a savvy investigator during World War II, Lamb is persuaded by the Las Vegas mayor to use talents to solve the murder of the Nevada governor’s daughter. Found murdered on the grounds of the Nevada Nuclear Testing Grounds, the young woman, the mayor needs to act fast, at least on political grounds. Having been Lamb’s commanding officer in the war, he knows that Lamb is a relentless investigator, despite his rather laconic cowboy demeanor. Like I said, the role was made for Quaid.

Between the crime bosses who promise to bring to Nevada lots of revenue with glittering (and glitzy) hotels and casinos, the politicians who might be more than willing to turn a blind eye, and the Lamb’s straight ahead ethics and integrity, Vegas creates a cauldron of potential out there in the desert. Co-starring Michael Chiklis (The Shield, Fantastic Four) as just-transplanted Chicago crime boss Vincent Savino, Vegas boasts a great cast, which also includes Jason O’Mara (Terra Nova), Carrie-Ann Moss (The Matrix), and James Russo (Public Enemies).

Vegas is off to a good start; there is a lot of potential, given the period setting and veteran cast. Chiklis’ Savino makes a great adversary for Quaid’s Lamb, and their intense early confrontations during the pilot episode suggest an excellent narrative backbone for the procedural elements of crime drama, with likely a new crime to be solved each week. And I also suspect there might be some romantic sparks flying between Lamb and Moss’ District Attorney Katherine O’Connell.

Vegas premieres Tuesday night at 10 p.m. ET on CBS.
Enjoy a peek at the new series, courtesy of CBS:

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About Barbara Barnett

Barbara Barnett is publisher and executive editor of Blogcritics, as well as a noted entertainment writer. Author of Chasing Zebras: The Unofficial Guide to House, M.D., her primary beat is primetime television. But Barbara writes on an everything from film to politics to technology to all things pop culture and spirituality. She is a contributor to the book called Spiritual Pregnancy (Llewellyn Worldwide, January 2014) and has a story in Riverdale Ave Press' new anthology of zombie romance, Still Hungry for your Love. She is hard at work on what she hopes will be her first published novel.
  • http://insomniacentertainment.com Luigi Bastardo

    Michael Chiklis as a mobster? Well, that kind of did my aspirations for this one in.

  • Mike Olsen

    cars & motorcycles not even close to 1960, pretty sure Im not going to watch this show again

  • Corbyn

    Vegas is a great show. Dennis Quaid and Michael Chiklis are both fantastic actors and it will be great to see them starring opposite each other in this series. I really like how even handed this show is in terms of explaining what’s going on. I record the show each week and even my girlfriend likes this show. I had no idea that this was supposed to be a movie and I’m glad it became a show. It seems more authentic and in depth as a TV show. It’s true that there are some inconsistencies that may bother some but I’m sure that some of these will go away as the show continues its production. It’s hard to have all of the rough edges buffed out of a show in the pilot. My co-workers agree that this show is a good bet if you want a new kind of crime drama to watch. Personally, I’m ready to try something new.