Pilot Perception: Vegas

Welcome to Pilot Perception, our feature in which we break down the first episode of each new show in order to help you decide whether it’s worth your time.

The Show: Vegas, CBS, Tuesdays at 10/9c

The Pedigree: The show’s EPs include Greg Walker (Three Rivers, The Defenders), Nicholas Pileggi (Goodfellas), Arthur M. Sarkissian (Rush Hour), Cathy Conrad (Men in Trees), and James Mangold (Men in Trees). Other writers include Jim Adler (Unforgettable), Ashley Gable (The Mentalist), Seth Hoffman (Prison Break, House), and Vanessa Reisen (Las Vegas). And hey, Star Trek fans – Roxann Dawson will be directing an episode later in the season.

The Cast & How You Know Them: Vegas stars Dennis Quaid (more movies than I can name, though I have a soft spot for The Parent Trap) and Michael Chiklis (The Shield, No Ordinary Family). Other regulars include Jason O’Mara (Terra Nova, One for the Money), Carrie-Anne Moss (Chuck), and Taylor Handley (Hidden Palms, Southland).

The Premise: As the Las Vegas casino scene starts booming in the 1960s, rancher (and former World War II MP hero) Ralph Lamb is enlisted as sheriff, which starts his conflict with mob boss Vincent Savino. He’s helped by his brother, son, and a female ADA he’s known all his life.

A Taste:

What Works: Quaid and Chiklis are both great, of course, and the whole cast is strong; I especially like Jason O’Mara, though he was sadly underused in the pilot. I also love that they included a powerful female lawyer, and I hope we learn more about her past and career trajectory, as it can’t have been a common one for the the time. Historical shows are always best when they take place at times of great social change, and I don’t know much about the history of Las Vegas so I’m very interested to see where this goes.

What Doesn’t: The writing is a bit clunky, and the actors need to grown into the historical roles a bit. There’s a lot going on here, and the pacing of the pilot wasn’t ideal, so it managed to be both a little slow and confusing at times. But they had a lot of exposition to cover, so I’m hoping things even out in the future, and the procedural format should help with that.

Our Favorite Line: “You got yourself a new job, sheriff.”

Other Items of Note: The show is based on the real story of Ralph Lamb.

You Might Like This if you like Westerns or historical dramas; it reminds me a bit of a cross between Longmire and Magic City. It’s also worth a look for the strong cast.

If You’re Interested: CBS is reairing the pilot on Saturday at 8/7c, or you can watch it on their site. The second episode will air on Tuesday at 10/9c.

(Photo courtesy of CBS.)

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