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Universal Studios Home Video presents
"It's not illegal to cheat a cheater."
DVD ReviewMuch like the city from which its title is derived, NBC's Las Vegas is a glossy package of sex, sin, and style and as anyone who has visited there can tell you, when those ingredients are introduced it is impossible not to be entertained. The series, set at the fictional Montecito resort and casino, takes a look at casino life from the inside out including security, staff, and everything else in between.
As the series opens, we are introduced to "Big" Ed Deline (Caan), head of security for the flourishing Montecito. As Ed walks down a lavish hall, with gun drawn, we are moved away to find Danny (Duhamel) and Delinda (Sims) in a compromising position and it isn't long until we see that Ed's destination and the lovers location are one in the same. Through a series of moments like this, we are gradually introduced to the cast of characters that populate the Montecito.
Danny is Ed's right hand man and future leader in training; Delinda is Ed's daughter. It becomes clear that Danny did not know this. With Ed upset, and questioning Danny's abilities in the field of intelligence after failing to see the family resemblance, he gives Danny a laundry list of problems he wants solved within the next twenty-four hours that includes everything from ensuring a couple is happy on their 30th anniversary to catching a cheater wearing bunny slippers who has taken the casino for a lot of money.
Danny works his way through the complex and in turn introduces us to the remainder of the staff. There is Nessa (Thomason), the pit boss who has a previous connection with Ed; Mike (Lesure) is a valet with an engineering degree who makes more money at the Montecito but uses his knowledge on occasion to help make Danny's life easier. We also meet Mary (Cox), who has the dual responsibilities of being both the Montecito's special events coordinator as well as being Danny's childhood friend, and Sam (Marcil) is the new casino host whom Danny convinces to join the staff.
The pilot, for the most part, offers an accurate description of the show for the entire 23-episode run of the first season. Problems arise and it is up to Danny and Ed to work with the others to bring a tidy solution by the end of each hour. The show has no long-term plot aspirations in the first season—guests arrive, need help, and the staff gets them out the door before the next week's plot points arrive. Think of it as Fantasy Island but with gambling addictions and strippers.
The series does seem to have trouble balancing the mixed genres it attempts to incorporate. By blending drama, action, and humor, there begins to be a lag between the transitions as points of the episodes are flat-out boring. Now, this is not to say that Las Vegas debut season isn't good, just unfocused. The security aspect of the series is terrific, as we see all of the supposed tricks of the trade that real casino security incorporate and these appeals to the inner sleuth in all of us. But when the series tries to flesh out conflicts, largely between Danny and Ed and Danny and the ladies of the series, it falters somewhat.
The first season lists just as many high points as low ones. One of the best episodes is by far Semper Spy, in which a vacationing Ed places Danny in charge only to secretly stay in town and personally make Danny's life a living hell. Other episodes benefit from their guest stars as both Alec Baldwin (moonlighting from his Cooler gig) and Dennis Hopper arrive. It's great to see them both match wits with Caan especially. The more absurd among the episodes include dangerous ninja assassins (Year of the Tiger), bizarre diamond heists, and Mary and Sam trying to stop the marriage of a high roller because his new wife won't let him gamble (Family Jewels).
In the end, I suppose that I don't hate or love Las Vegas. Like the city from which it takes its name, it is great to occasionally pop in and have a fun time, but at the end there is little validation and you wonder what on earth prompted you to think what you had just done was a good idea.
Rating for Style: B+
Rating for Substance: C-
Image Transfer Review: Las Vegas is presented in a 1.78:1 anamorphic widescreen image for each episode and the result is one of the better looking TV sets around. Fleshtones look natural while edge enhancement and grain are kept to a minimum. Sharpness and detail are each terrific with the bright lights of Vegas coming off as well as the lavish interiors of the Montecito.
Image Transfer Grade: A-
Audio Transfer Review: The Dolby Digital 5.1 mix is even better than the video as it creates a fully developed sound experience. The mix does well with the surround speakers offering up all of the ambiance of a casino while the dialogue sounds crisp and clear throughout.
Audio Transfer Grade: A
Disc ExtrasFull Motion menu with music
Scene Access with 8 cues and remote access
Subtitles/Captions in English with remote access
3 Feature/Episode commentaries by Pilot with Gary Scott Thompson, Nikki Cox, Molly Sims, Marsha Thomason and James Lesure. Hellraisers and Heartbreakers with Thompson and James Caan, Thompson and Vanessa Marcil in The Night the Lights Went Out in Vegas, Thompson
Packaging: Four fold case
We get a look Inside the Montecito, covering the locations and sets used for the show. Finally, we get an AFL promo with Jon Bon Jovi and John Elway—don't ask.
Extras Grade: B-
Final CommentsFor those like out esteemed editor who view the series as a guilty pleasure, I can see why. Las Vegas is fun regardless of whether or not you have a crush on Mr. Duhamel. (Busted, debi.) It is absurd at times but at others it is positively entertaining. Fans of the show should love this set, but a rental is best for the curious.
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