I’m a fan of classic TV shows as it is, but seeing a pre-surveillance camera Las Vegas without a slew of Crime Scene Investigators parading about is cause indeed for celebration. And the party is now ready to commence with Vega$: Season One, Volume 2. Created by Heat director Michael Mann, Vega$ brings us the weekly adventures of Dan Tanna (Robert Urich), the best-dressed (and probably best-looking) detective in the Las Vegas, and private contractor for the Desert Inn Casino & Hotel.
Dan’s the kind of guy who knows everybody, and picks up every kind of case Sin City can throw at him. Co-starring are series regulars Bart Braverman (as Dan’s dorky right hand man, Binzer), Phyllis Davis, and Judy Landers (as the proverbial dumb blonde), with Greg (Mission: Impossible) Morris and Naomi Stevens as Dan’s connections at the LVPD. And don’t worry, Tony Curtis fans, you’re lad is on hand for a couple of episodes in this set as Dan’s boss, Philip Roth — and the light truly shines on him when he’s in the frame. Also popping in to say hello every once in a while is Will Sampson as Harlon Two-Leaf, Tanna’s Native American buddy.
In this half-season, Dan and his assistants contend with a wedding chapel fraudster (played by Red Buttons nonetheless), a beautiful visiting princess (Kim Catrall) whom Dan naturally falls for, a government cover-up (the least believable episode in the bunch), a Jack the Ripper copycat killer (John Larch), and one crazed killer after another (with a list of suspects including Richard Lynch, William Smith, Keye Luke, and more). Additional guest stars include Pamela Hensley, George Takei, R.G. Armstrong, Gregory Walcott, Marlyn Mason, Wilfred Hyde-White, John Rubenstein (with his big-ass ‘70s afro), and Cindy Eilbacher.
Fortunately, CBS/Paramount went the extra bit of distance and cleaned up the audio and video for Vega$: Season One, Volume 2. The episodes look as crisp as the day they were filmed (save for some moments that are obviously stock footage), boasting some solid colors and contrast all around. The mono audio comes through just fine (it should be noted that some of the music has been changed on this release — a notorious staple of CBS/Paramount releases), but the lack of a subtitle option is missed. Special features consist of nothing more than the original give-the-whole-story-away Episodic Promos that ABC aired back in the late ‘70s in order to steal viewers from CBS and NBC (this was back when we only had three networks to choose from, kids).
It probably goes without saying that Vega$ is a bit of a no-brainer show. It’s late ‘70s primetime action fare, with more than its share of cheesy comedy (both intentional and otherwise). But, when you’ve reached the point of being desensitized by harsher and more “realistic” series like CSI or Las Vegas, it’s nice to see Robert Urich cruisin’ through the Entertainment Capitol of the World when they were both still young.