Las Vegas on the Small Screen

am-tatort-c-cbs.jpgBEST

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.

Related Stories

Our Greatest Tough Guy Goes Prime Time

Legendary Sheriff Ralph Lamb returns to the neon as the inspiration for Vegas, television’s latest fling with Sin City. Read more »

The Lamb Behind the Legend

Who in their right mind pilfers Sheriff Ralph Lamb’s peaches? At age 85, Lamb looks like he could still kick your keister into tomorrow. True, his eyesight is poor and fading, a victim of macular degeneration. Somehow, though, his eyes look alive and alert, holding you in their steady gaze. Read more »

vegas-3-91wtn0h01jl-aa1500-jpg-63d0ff9db6475535

Vega$

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.

WORST

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

 

lasvegaswp1920x1200a

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.

Suggested Next Read

The Expendables 2

Short Reviews

The Expendables 2

By Tribune Media Services

(R) ★☆☆☆☆ This overblown action-star reunion pic is all good fun and games, but it also reaches and exceeds the Maximum Mayhem Threshold to become a wise-cracking cavalcade of carnage. Barney Ross (Stallone) and his team (which includes Statham, Couture, Lundgren, Li, Liam Hemsworth, etc.) take their soldier-for-hire thing to Nepal to battle countless henchman, Jean Vilain (Van Damme) and spy boss Bruce Willis. It’s pretty ridiculous, especially once Chuck Norris shows up.

DTLV

RunRebs