Las Vegas on the Small Screen


1. CSI: Crime Scene Investigation (CBS, 2000- ): Whether led by William Petersen, Laurence Fishburne or Ted Danson, the CSI-ers fascinate us with crime-solving that is both gross and engrossing. And we love it when they show up at a scene on Lake Mead Boulevard or Green Valley Parkway. Who cares if it’s actually Santa Clarita, Calif.?

2. Vega$ (ABC, 1978-81): Yes, it fetishized, romanticized and stereotyped us, but Robert Urich created one of TV’s best private dicks in Dan Tanna and Vega$ gave us enduring pop-culture cachet.

3. Crime Story (NBC, 1986-88): Could have been a template for the new Vegas. Ferocious cop Dennis Farina takes on Chicago mobster-turned-Vegas mobster Anthony Denison in the early 1960s. Gritty and great.

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4. Las Vegas (NBC, 2003-2008): Paternal tough guys James Caan and Tom Selleck (in the final season). Eye candy Vanessa Marcil and Josh Duhamel. Sharp inside peek into a hotel-casino. Love Boat-ish parade of guest stars. (Tony Orlando to the rescue of a ruined leisure suit!) Good, trashy fun.

5. Lucky (FX, 2003): Unfairly short-lived—it ran only four months—Lucky starred John Corbett (Northern Exposure) as a $1 million poker tournament winner and gambling addict who goes broke. A dark, edgy comedy—Emmy-nominated for writing—it was a creative jackpot that crapped out in the ratings.


1. Dr. Vegas (CBS, 2004): Rob Lowe as an in-house doc at a high-end casino. One-month run. Deserved less.



Las Vegas

2. The Defenders (CBS, 2010-2011): Lame legal comedy-drama starring James Belushi and Jerry O’Connell, based on real-life local lawyers Michael Cristalli and Marc Saggese. Seeking inspiration, perhaps producers should have made one call—that’s all—to Glen Lerner.

3. Blansky’s Beauties (ABC, 1977): Quippy, kvetchy Nancy Walker and glamorous showgals. A Happy Days spinoff. What went wrong? Maybe one of the girls should have been Pinky Tuscadero. Or Mrs. C.

4. Hearts Are Wild (CBS, 1992): No-star, two-month series set at Caesars Palace. Worst publicity for one of our most iconic hotels except for …

5. The Strip (ex-UPN, 1999): Sean Patrick Flanery and Guy Torry as hip-hop ex-cops troubleshooting at Caesars. Acting was surpassed only by the Forum Shops’ talking statues.

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Fabled storyteller, fictional beast, punk princess


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Feeling bad that I neglected to mention that Ministry of Love released a video weeks ago for the title track of their recent EP, A Promise for Forever, out on Negative Progression. (My favorite moment is when bassist Patrick Trout, late for band rehearsal, misses the city bus and falls to his knees.) View the YouTube video and buy the EP at, but don’t expect much else. Ministry of Love played its last foreseeable show at House of Blues on Aug.



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