Dropped: Vegas

Posted on December 6, 2012

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VEGAS

A period piece set in 1960 Las Vegas starring Dennis Quaid and Michael Chiklis, one playing a sheriff and the other playing a mobster, seemed interesting.

We Watched It

Ralph Lamb (Dennis Quaid) is a rancher and a newly elected sheriff and Korean War veteran. Vincent Savino (Michael Chiklis) is a mobbed-up guy who comes to Las Vegas with big dreams.

Lamb represents old ways and old-fashioned values. He and his brother Jack (Jason O’Mara) own a ranch. Together with Ralph’s son Dixon (Taylor Handley), they make up the backbone of the local law enforcement community.

Savino found his old home too constricting. Senior people in the mob kept him down. His wife wanted him to stop lying to her, to stop hiding the dirtiest parts of his life from her. For him, Las Vegas represents opportunity. He sees the future of Las Vegas in luxury hotel casinos, and he’s impatient to make them real.

Dropped

The first thing that I noticed about this show is how boring it sounds. Ridiculous for a visual medium, right?

Nevertheless, Quaid, Chiklis, and O’Mara seem to have the same raspy voice as many of the supporting actors. I’m sure it’s meant to be a historical representation of how men sounded in the days when chain smoking and heavy drinking were socially expected. However, making it difficult to tell characters apart is never a good idea.

The next thing I noticed is that it’s tough to pick a sympathetic character between the two main actors. Savino is clearly the future of the city. He’s charming, generous, and ambitious. He’s also a doer, and not just a dreamer. He knows how to make things happen. He’s loyal, too. None of his plans involve cutting his old associates out of the profits.

Of course, he’s also a liar and a killer.

Lamb, on the other hand, is the law in a time when the law was often drunk, racist, and openly politicized. Lamb believes in the law, and in the ideals of justice. He loves his family and his ranch, and he deeply cares about his neighbors. He’s starting to fall in love with Deputy DA Katherine O’Connell (Carrie-Anne Moss, who looks fabulous in period make-up and costuming), while still mourning his late wife.

However, Lamb has no qualms about using force and trampling legal rights to bring suspects to justice.

I need shows with strong sympathetic characters, and I can’t figure out who that is in Vegas. Right now, Savino is the mover. His actions trigger the stories of each episode, and drive the ongoing story about the development of Las Vegas. Sheriff Lamb is always playing catch-up, cleaning up the fall-out from Savino’s organized crime activities.

I think the show has normal freshman series issues with pacing and figuring out how to tell its stories. If it gets renewed, a lot of that will go away as the writers get more comfortable with their characters and plots.

Maybe I’ll check back next year, but for now I just can’t be bothered.

WTF

I commend Vegas for showing how the police solved crimes before fancy crime labs existed. Lamb’s deputies work hard questioning people and looking for clues. Lamb and his family use their knowledge of the locals, and of the area, to put things together.

I’m sure that’s a conscious choice meant to distance them from that other major Las Vegas police procedural that goes by its initials.

In addition, the acting is excellent. The set design and costuming are fabulous. I grew up watching shows set in the Sixties, and I love the clothing of the period.

Carrie-Anne Moss really does look fantastic.

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Thoughts?

What other shows launched on star-power but didn’t have the writing to back them up? I’m thinking about Star Trek: Voyager (not so much for the actors, but for the legacy it had to carry), but there must be others.

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Posted in: television