Tuesday | 10:00 pm | CBS
While I had heard of Vegas, I didn’t really see too much advertising for it, which could just be a whoops on my part, but seems more like a oops for CBS. The sixties-set drama is one of the network’s most ambitious and prestigious projects in years. You’d think this would be more of a selling point, considering CBS was the only major network to garner any Emmy love in the drama department, for The Good Wife (Kathy Bates doesn’t count). The ratings pretty much proved that no one else saw any ads for Vegas either.
I started out watching the pilot fairly excited. It boasts big names: Dennis Quaid, in his first lead role for television, Michael Chiklis (The Shield), Carrie-Ann Moss (The Matrix), and Jason O’Mara (many shows that never quite stick). The executive producers, too, are more film-oriented, with some big titles under their belt (Nicholas Peleggi wrote the screenplays for both Goodfellas and Casino). Quaid stars as Ralph Lamb, a kinda real life sheriff in the quickly growing Las Vegas area. Lamb contends with Chiklis as Vincent Savino, also based on a real life gangster. The actors threaten and glare at each other with gravitas, although I remain not completely convinced. I appreciated what they’re going for – Quaid headbutts, and breaks laws gruffly, while Chiklis is the suave type of gangster that is irritated by unnecessary beatdowns and cheating blackjack dealers – but they still lack the depth of character to truly compete against this year’s best actor nominees.
Despite that, it was lovely to sit down and enjoy something well-made, no mocking necessary. It was certainly beautiful to look at – the appeal of 1960s fashion still holds me in its thrall – and the setting was gorgeous, particularly the scene toward the end where Lamb and company finally corner the Little Bad on a deserted airstrip. But as a whole, the show didn’t give me chills; I never felt that magic instantaneous love that I have for The Good Wife, Breaking Bad, Mad Men, Game of Thrones, etc. I suppose there’s still a chance Vegas could break out, and given a few great episodes, Quaid’s probably a lock for an Emmy nomination next year. But it could also sink into that procedural mode that keeps CBS in the top spot year after year, which would really be too bad.
Long Term Prediction:
It’s nice to have a Mad Men knock-off during the hiatus that isn’t as cracktastical as Pan Am. Who am I kidding, I loved Pan Am. Also, bonus Taylor Handley, of the equally amazing and cracktastical Hidden Palms. But, yes, Vegas, sure, sign me up.