CBS’ Vegas, starring Dennis Quaid and Michael Chiklis, is a familiar tale of mafia bosses, corrupt cops and dirty politicians with one exception – the law in this town is Walker Texas Ranger.
The series focuses on Sheriff Ralph Lamb (Quaid) and Vincent Savino (Chiklis), a mob player from the east who has been appointed General Manager of the Savoy casino in Las Vegas. It takes place during the mid 1900s, just when Las Vegas is beginning to grow into more than a small strip of casinos.
Vegas begins with Ralph, his adult son Dixon (Taylor Handley) and Ralph’s brother, Jack (Jason O’Mara), herding cattle. When a plane flies overhead, scattering the herd, Ralph rides his horse over to air traffic control to give them a stern talking-to about flying planes over his ranch. The conversation quickly turns into a fistfight with three people. Ralph takes down the first two, gets punched by the third, gives the attacker the “Hulk Hogan wide-eyed angry face,” and then takes him down too.
This pilot doesn’t present the typical flashy story of gangsters, money, women and drugs. Rather, it’s an old-school cowboy tale about the end of Lamb’s generation and the beginning of casino country. Quaid is at home as an aged-cowboy, who isn’t afraid to tussle to protect his land and the old way of living.
When a governor’s niece is found dead in the desert, Ralph Lamb is called in to solve the case. He’s not a cop, but he’s been in the military and solved cases before.
On the opposite side of the story is Vincent Savino. He’s been brought in by Chicago to help get the Savoy running smoothly again. The numbers at the casino have been dwindling (possibly due to someone skimming the proceeds), there’s a potential rat, and the game commission is on their back.
Vincent has rules. However, he’s not afraid to punch someone a few times to make sure his way of doing things is the only way. Chiklis plays the character as a quiet storm, waiting to explode. He has no problem with coming to blows with the law, but he’d rather negotiate and offer peaceful threats. Unless, he decides to kill you.
“I’m the law here Mr. Savino. And I will decide who’s breaking it.” – Ralph to Vincent.
The Vegas premiere almost felt like the 1987 film, The Untouchables. Ralph’s way of doing things is typically in a clear violation to legal practices, but in this era – of horses vs. motorcycles – that’s okay. Ralph locks up a lawyer with his clients and chases down a motorcycle gang leader with his horse. He also has a Texas showdown with a car.
The Vegas series premiere ended with another dead body found in the desert – in this case the sheriff. Ralph is called in and his stint as sheriff becomes permanent.
Carrie-Anne Moss (The Matrix) also stars as A.D.A. Katherine O’Connell, a potential love interest for Sheriff Ralph Lamb.
Will Vegas survive the Fall TV Season? What did you think of the premiere?