Fall TV Preview: 'Vegas,' 'Nashville,' And 'Malibu Country'
This fall, Dennis Quaid fights the mob in Vegas, Reba McEntire relocates to Malibu, and Connie Britton takes the stage in Nashville.
'Vegas' on CBS.
Photography: Lorey Sebastian/© 2012 CBS Broadcasting Inc.
Earlier this year, there was a lot of loose talk about a possible “renaissance” of TV westerns. Unfortunately, it looks like that hype hasn’t actually translated into new shows about Wild West cowboys. But don’t despair: In the fall, we’ll still have the gritty period action of AMC’s Hell on Wheels, and in the new year we'll return to the Big Sky country crime investigations of A&E’s Longmire and the modern-day gunslinging fireworks of FX’s Justified. And we’ll also have three new scripted series this fall that we think C&I readers will want to check out.
In the world according to Vegas — the ambitious crime drama set to air Tuesdays at 10 p.m. Eastern time on CBS starting Sept. 25 — it’s still the early 1960s, and the Nevada city of the title is not yet the sprawling metropolis we’re accustomed to seeing on contemporary TV. Chicago mob fixer Vincent Savino, played by Michael Chiklis (The Shield and The Commish), has been sent to the burgeoning gambling Mecca to improve the profitability of various legal and illegal businesses controlled by his underworld contacts.
Anxious town fathers and law enforcement officials hope for the best in terms of booming business but are savvy enough to expect the worst that comes with an increased cash flow. So the word goes out to Ralph Lamb, played by Emmy and Golden Globe nominee Dennis Quaid, a local fourth-generation rancher and former rodeo cowboy who served as a military police officer during World War II. The mayor knows of Lamb’s wartime experience and implores the modern-day cowboy to accept the job of sheriff.
Truth to tell, Lamb would prefer to be left alone to work at his ranching. (Indeed, in the first episode of Vegas, he’s seen leading a cattle drive.) But when you’re called upon to serve and protect your community, well, a man’s got to do what a man’s got to do.
And that, according to a CBS press release, is what sets up the show’s ongoing conflict: “In Vegas, two powerful men — Lamb and Savino — are engaged in a fierce battle for control of the budding oasis, and for both of them, folding is not an option.”
Based on the true-life exploits of the real Ralph Lamb, who’s still very much alive and reportedly very pleased about the casting of Quaid as his on-screen incarnation, Vegas was cocreated by author-screenwriter Nicholas Pileggi, whose scripts for Martin Scorsese’s Casino and GoodFellas suggest that he likely knows a lot about where bodies are buried and skeletons are closeted. More important, Pileggi, who serves as one of the show’s executive producers, has supplemented his research with firsthand testimony: According to Norm Clarke of the Las Vegas Review-Journal, the author “has been collecting stories from Lamb over several years.”
Judging from advance footage made available to the press, Vegas appears to be rich in period detail and will emphasize the striking contrast between Old West (lots of shots of Quaid and others on horseback) and ’60s glitz. Supporting players include Carrie-Anne Moss (Memento and The Matrix movies) as Katherine O’Connell, an assistant district attorney who grew up on the ranch next to Lamb’s spread; Jason O’Mara (Terra Nova and Life on Mars) as Jack Lamb, Ralph’s even-tempered brother and deputy; and Taylor Handley (The O.C.) as Dixon Lamb, the rancher-turned-sheriff’s charismatic but impulsive son who has followed his father's footsteps into law enforcement.
Like the fantastic ’80s cop show Crime Story (with Dennis Farina) before it, this new take on vintage Vegas could be an entertaining reason to spend more time in the Entertainment Capital of the World.