Television is a tricky medium. You can have all of the elements needed in a successful television pilot, and yet for whatever reason it fails to connect with the audience. Every week a show is playing Russian roulette, will they survive or not?
With the myriad of new shows each year it is difficult to navigate what is worth watching, thus the creation of the three-episode test. It is simple. I choose the shows I would like to give a shot based on producer, writers, casting, and premise. These go on a list, and when the season starts each show on the list gets three episodes to keep me interested.
The shows on this year’s list are as follows:
The Last Resort
Beauty and the Beast
666 Park Avenue
We are now in the third week of October, and each has had their shot. I have already reviewed The Last Resort, and decided after the third episode to keep it on the DVR. After deciding in episode two to take it off, this proves a show can redeem itself.
Let’s take a look at one of the other new 2012 shows on the list.
From CBS Dennis Quaid and Michael Chiklis star in VEGAS, a drama inspired by the true story of former Las Vegas Sheriff Ralph Lamb, a fourth-generation rancher tasked with bringing order to Las Vegas in the 1960s. Vincent Savino, a ruthless Chicago gangster arrives in Las Vegas with plans to make the town his own.
Good versus evil, black verses white, cowboy verses mobster, they have all been done. Some have been done well, others we would like to forget. Is CBS’s VEGAS any different? This viewer says un-expectantly, yes.
As I stated above, you can have all of the elements of a great show and it can fall flat. My early predictions stated I had little hope for this venture. After three episodes I have decided VEGAS is worth watching.
In debating this change of heart (which rarely happens), I stepped back to find exactly what it is about the show I find appealing. Turns out it is the gray. VEGAS is not your run of the mill mobster or cop show. Creators Greg Walker and Nicholas Pileggi have successfully pulled us back to the 1960’s. Laying out the residents of Las Vegas as people, not legends or folk-tales, and it worked.
Michael Chiklis portrays Vincent Savino, a noted Chicago gangster sent to Las Vegas with one goal. Create a stable, lucrative cash flow for the Chicago Mafia. Many times the Mafia is portrayed as thugs and ruthless killers. However, the basis for the mafia, since inception, is the creation of a sustainable business, supply and demand, and the almighty rise of capitalism.
The writers of Vegas decided to take this sideways approach to the Savino character, concentrating on the creative, determined, strategic, expansive, and out-of–box thinking the man had to have to compete in the newfound Las Vegas goldmine.
One of the most telling references to this strategy is from this last episode, All that Glitters- While the sheriff investigates the death of an Olympic boxer, Vincent runs into some difficulty when one of his Chicago bosses gets in trouble with the law.
Toward the end of the episode the Chicago Boss demands Sherriff Lamb be permanently eliminated. Savino’s response to this is “I took an oath, you want me to take anyone out I will. And I gotta admit I’d enjoy it, but it’s the wrong move. Not because he’s a decent man, he’s not. Not because he will come over to our side, he won’t. But if we take him out, best case scenario, the Feds don’t come after us, the state doesn’t revoke our gaming license but we still have two dead sheriffs in one month. What man is going to take his wife to city without any law? Without tourism there’s no money, there’s no suitcases coming home. Whatever we think of Ralph Lamb, we need him alive, for now. Otherwise we have another wasted opportunity. Havana in the desert…”
If that isn’t enough, we have the balance of Ralph Lamb whose sole desire is to run is cattle ranch in peace. Quaid’s portrayal in the beginning was grating and over-acted. He has since smoothed out the edges and is now charming and even a bit intriguing.
The cases do not directly involve Savino or the mafia, so while you are watching the case unfold you are waiting to see how it will connect back to the mafia. Just like in real life, you may know someone is involved but you have to prove it.
The exchanges between characters are entertaining, and the writers are good at keeping us within the decade with references to the social trends of the time.
The supporting cast is strong and while Quaid and Chiklis are the dual faced centerpiece of the show, the supporting cast is invaluable in showing all sides of the given situation and opposing perspectives of black, white, and gray.
VEGAS is entertaining, sexy, and intelligent. It is definitely worth an hour on Tuesday nights. Check your local listings for times and Channels. If you have missed any of the VEGAS episodes, they are available to watch for free @ CBS.com
Live Love Learn…everyday.