Fall TV Pilot Preview: CBS' 'Vegas'
Dennis Quaid makes his network series debut and Michael Chiklis returns to play the heavy in the Nicholas Pileggi-scripted story about a cowboy sheriff and the mob in '60s Las Vegas.
CBS is hoping for a lucky role of the dice with its new cops-and-mob drama Vegas - one of three dramas the Eye is adding to the schedule for the upcoming season.
Set in 1960, the show is based on the true story of rodeo-cowboy-turned-Las-Vegas-sheriff Ralph Lamb, played by Dennis Quaid, who ran law enforcement in the city from 1961-1979.
His nemesis is fictional Chicago gangster Vincent Savino (Michael Chiklis) who arrives at the beginning of the pilot with a mandate from the mob to improve its take from the city's many legal and illegal vices.
CBS is giving the show a good lead in with its all-crime-all-the-time Tuesday lineup ofNCIS at 8 p.m. followed by NCIS: Los Angeles at 9 p.m. Vegas’ timeslot competition includes NBC's Parenthood and ABC's Private Practice, making it the only choice for crime fans at that hour.
Here's a rundown of five things to know about the series, based on a screening of the pilot.
1. The show marks Dennis Quaid's network television series debut.
Despite a resume that dates back to 1975 and includes more than seventy-fire roles, Quaid has never headlined a network series before. Heck, the last time he even appeared on a network series was a guest role on Baretta in 1977, although he has done a smattering of made-for-TV movies over the years and some voice work on SpongeBob SquarePants.
2. Michael Chiklis returns to playing the heavy.
Best known for his tough role as the bad cop on The Shield (2002-08), Chiklis turned to playing good guy Jim Powell, an average father heading a family with superpowers on No Ordinary Family during the 2010-11 TV season. Now, he returns to playing the heavy as Quaid's foil, a mob fixer sent to Vegas to improve operations and make more money.
3. The rest of the cast includes some familiar faces.
Jason O'Mara is back from the future (he was the lead on last season's the future-is-the-past dino series Terra Nova) to play Quaid's brother and deputy and the Matrix's Carrie Ann Moss stars as Deputy District Attorney Katherine O'Connell, who could be pegged as future love interest for Quaid. Fans of the West Wing will recognize Agent Ron Butterfield (Michael O'Neill) playing the Mayor.
4. It's a period piece.
The show takes place in 1960 when Vegas was more than the one-stoplight casino town seen in Warren Beatty's classic Bugsy but not yet the sprawling metropolis viewers are used to seeing on C.S.I. In fact, the miles of suburban housing developments that fill aerial shots on C.S.I. are owned by ranchers like Lamb, who is seen at the beginning of the pilot on a cattle drive. The pilot really plays up the old-meets-new theme with lots of shots of Quaid riding a horse juxtaposed with an airplane or the neon lights of the Strip. Plus, there's lots of Mad Men-like attention to detail in the period costumes. Indeed, Chiklis dresses like he raided Don Draper's closet.
5. The pilot script has a good pedigree.
Nicholas Pileggi (Goodfellas, Casino) and Greg Walker (Without a Trace) co-wrote the script. This is the Oscar-nominated Pileggi's second attempt at a network TV series, having created 1997's Michael Hayes, about a cop who becomes the U.S. Attorney for New York (played by David Caruso in his first post-NYPD Blue series role), which lasted only one season. Walker is a TV vet with writing and producing credits on everything from the X-Files to Smallville to Without a Trace on his resume. These guys know crime. It's not clear what either knows about cowboys though.