Dennis Quaid has never been a regular on a TV show in his three decade career. The actor pushing 60 has played every character you can think of and has headlined some of really great films.

So what drew an established talent like this to a network television show? If it was HBO it would make sense but this is a CBS 1960’s procedural.

Quaid plays Deputy Ralph Lamb who one night is called into the murder of the governor’s daughter when the actual Las Vegas sheriff is MIA.

Lamb has a history of being an investigator for the military but has since retired and now runs a ranch just outside Las Vegas.

While Lamb investigates with his younger brother (Jason O’Mara) the trail leads him to a gangster’s casino.

Newly assigned to Las Vegas, mobster Vincent Savino (Michael Chiklis) immediately butts heads with Lamb. Their antagonism will be the main thread through the series.

The pilot is directed by respected feature film director James Mangold (3:10 to Yuma, Walk the Line and the upcoming The Wolverine) and his flair is immediate.

Quaid punching out an airport security guard after one of the airport’s planes spooks his cattle.

Quaid chasing down a biker down the Las Vegas Strip on horseback. As well as the slow burn tension between Quaid and Chiklis.

The last part could be suicide for a network show. Slow burn is not a good thing even on the #1 network. There is a boatload of talent here but is it enough to sustain this show’s audience.

I do have some fear for the show. I don’t wanna see Quaid reduced to procedural detective. The actor is way to good for that.

Quaid is versatile, steadfast and a really solid leading man. I want to see more of the mob angle and turn the show into more.

If this was HBO, AMC or TNT, I wouldn’t be as concerned.

There is hope. The show is based on the true life story of Sheriff Ralph Lamb who served as the Las Vegas Sheriff from 1960 to 1979.

He is sort of a legend in Vegas. His story was actually being shopped as feature film by “Goodfellas”/“Casino” writer/producer Nick Pileggi, who earlier gave CBS the short-lived 1998 David Caruso lawyer hourlong “Michael Hayes.” Pileggi saw huge potential in the story and that is what lured Quaid, Chiklis, Mangold and others to the project. They are all producers on the series.

Pileggi could be the saving grace of the series if he can once again bring his mobster magic that he delivered to Martin Scorsese. Lamb is a great hero. And Savino could become a great villain if they allow Chiklis to be duplicitous like his was on The Shield for so many years.

It is really soon to tell but I am really curious to see if CBS will give this kind of talent a chance to evolve.

GIVE IT: 4 episodes.

WATCH OR DVR: Watch it.

PILOT RATING:  4 out of 5


2 thoughts on “TV MADNESS #15: VEGAS (CBS)

  1. Dennis Quaid is a good actor and I loved his roles in “The Day After Tomorrow”, “Vantage Point” and “The Rookie”. I enjoyed watching the first couple of episodes of this new show. Lambs rancher mentality gives him the courage and strength he needs to take on gabbling and Vincent Savino (ruthless gangster) from disrupting his slow and peaceful ranch life.

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