Fall 2012 Review: Vegas

8 Oct


Here’s how I would describe what I think Vegas is, after one episode.  It’s a police procedural, but with a twist.  The twist is that it’s western-tinged, and set in the 1960s in a Las Vegas on the grow.

Note on “with a twist”:  My friend decided he likes straightforward classics, but “with a twist.”  While the value of that position is certainly debatable, my other friends and I eventually divined what he meant.  An example of this would be Snow White and the Huntsman, which takes on a traditional fairy tale, but with a twist.  CBS has been doing this a lot lately with the procedurals which are its bread and butter – while CSI and NCIS are about as traditional as it gets, Person of Interest’s got a twist, Elementary is modern day Sherlock Holmes procedural, and Unforgettable (hardly! ha!) was a cop procedural with an eidetic memory detective (Mentalist is kind of similar).

Back to Vegas – Dennis Quaid plays Ralph Lamb, a no-nonsense rancher with a nose for asking the right questions, a skill which he used during the war (World War II, probably, but conceivably Korea) as an MP.  He’s called in by the mayor, an old army buddy, to solve a particularly connected case (a relative of the governor!) because the regular sheriff is missing, and when that sheriff, who was corrupt, is eventually found dead, Lamb is recruited full time.

He uses the help of his ranch partners, each with his own set of complimentary skills, and fights to discover the truth while going up against the corrupt district attorney and the mob, which is looking to grow its influence around Vegas as well.  Basically, I’m guessing, there will be a new murder each week (maybe just a rape sometimes? do they have those in the ’60s?), and a new cast of possible suspects, with less complex formal serial plot than simply dealing with some of the same antagonistic characters over and over.

The only wild card that makes me a little bit confused as to what exactly the show will be is that one of these would-normally-be occasional antagonists is billed as the second main character in the show.   Vegas has been promoted as co-starring Dennis Quaid, who plays the obvious lead, Lamb, and Michael Chiklis, who plays the new head of the local mob, Vincent Savino.  Traditional procedurals don’t really have primary antagonists, at least in the appears-in-every-episode sense.  Primary villains, if they exist, appear once or twice a season as the crazy psychopath killer with potential personal ties that the protagonist can never catch.  Chiklis though, is second billed, and got a couple of scenes by himself in the first episode, showing him straightening out shoddy mob practices that were going on before he arrived.

If this was not on CBS, and was not a procedural, Quaid and Chiklis would be alternating protagonists, both rising up in the world of the new Las Vegas, one through the law, and one through crime, and it’s not that much of a stretch to imagine this show fitted for that.

It’s unclear exactly where Chiklis fits.  How much of his own story line does he get, versus how much is he just being slowly built to be relevant as an archrival to Quaid?  The fact that I don’t know exactly how this goes, and that the fit is unclear is probably more positive than negative overall; it’s actually something slightly different, or at least potentially different, which isn’t necessarily good but at least is indicative of a show that is trying.  It bears keeping an eye on (CBS pun!), because some decisions do need to be made about how the show works.

Also, I  really feel for some reason that the s in Vegas should be a dollar sign.

Will I watch it again?  Honestly, probably not.  I’ve got four new shows by last count I’m committing to for at least the next month and schedule space is tight.  That said, if I was looking for a procedural to watch, I might choose this one based on the one episode, which I mean as some reasonably but not incredibly favorite praise.

One Response to “Fall 2012 Review: Vegas”

  1. JimmyMackey October 25, 2012 at 2:46 pm #

    I can see why they would need to build Chiklis’ character over time because he’s not the focus of the story. The crimes that are played out as a procedural (mostly murder) are the reason the show exists, while the city of Vegas is built by corruption over time. My DISH coworker says it’s getting decent ratings too, which I figure should guarantee even more success and money to keep it a class act show. I found out about it when my Hopper PrimeTime Anytime feature I enabled, automatically recorded it. I like the fact that I find lots of new shows to watch, since every major network show records each day.

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