Vegas | TV Review
CBS dramas tend to have a uniform quality. Sure, every now and then something like The Good Wife comes along and manages to break the mold a little. More often than not, though, the most popular broadcast network seems perfectly content to continue serving variations on past procedural successes like CSI and NCIS. But what The Good Wife did for the legal drama, Vegas does for the cop show, offering a fresh take on a tired genre.
Set in the 1960s, Vegas stars Dennis Quaid as real-life character Sheriff Ralph Lamb. A former MP, with a strong reputation, Lamb returned to Las Vegas to work on his ranch with brother Jack (Jason O'Mara) and son Dixon (Taylor Handley) after retiring from the military. With the casino culture just beginning to fire up, mob activity in Vegas has begun, sending gangster Vincent Savino (Michael Chiklis) to town. When the Governor's niece is found dead and the town sheriff is nowhere to be found, the mayor turns to Lamb to help solve the case in his absence. This investigation puts Lamb on a collision course with Savino and the mob.
Director James Mangold (3:10 to Yuma) puts together a gorgeous pilot, showing off the rolling landscapes of Lamb's ranch and the bright lights of Savino's glitzy casino. The murder case itself is a lot less interesting than watching Quaid ferret information from witnesses and chase down suspects on his horse. Lamb is a true-blue cowboy and it's incredibly fun to see his brand of police work, even if the case is a little bland. Chiklis takes a bit of a backseat in the pilot, but his mobster has a quiet nobility that should prove an interesting foil for Quaid's rancher-turned-lawman.
Unlike TV's most popular period drama, Mad Men, Vegas suffers from a lack of female characters. Carrie-Anne Moss is fetching as the Las Vegas Assistant District Attorney and old friend of Lamb's but other than her, the only notable woman in the pilot is the corpse. Sure it's fun to watch Lamb and his good old boys chase down bad guys with horses and pick-up trucks, but to watch Vegas you'd think no women could be found anywhere near the strip in the '60s. Hopefully, this can be fixed soon.
The cowboys versus mobsters spin breathes life into the tired old cop procedural and the continued battle between Quaid and Chiklis should make Vegas endlessly entertaining.
Vegas airs Tuesdays 9pm on CBS.