Tuesdays, 10 p.m. CBS
Dennis Quaid in a cowboy hat and Michael Chiklis as a mobster? Yes, please.
The casting alone makes it hard to resist "Vegas"; thankfully, the drama doesn't disappoint. In fact, I'm more excited after the first episode about the places "Vegas" can go.
Inspired by a true story, Quaid plays Ralph Lamb, a rancher and former military police officer during WWII, who is stubbornly and aggressively trying to hold on to his land and raise his cattle while 1960s Las Vegas morphs into the gambling capital it will eventually become. He runs the land with his less hot-headed brother Jack (Jason O'Mara) and Lamb's son Dixon.
Chiklis is Vincent Savino, a made man from Chicago who comes to town to run a casino and build an empire. He's one of those professional, controlled and yet ruthless mobster types with a code; watch him brutally beat up someone for brutally beating up someone Savino didn't think deserved a beat down.
When the mayor calls Lamb in to solve the murder of a casino worker, the two men's paths cross, and when Lamb becomes the permanent sheriff, there's the promise that they'll keep meeting. Helping Lamb is in maintaining the law is former next-door neighbor and now assistant district attorney Katherine (Carrie-Anne Moss).
So, the show is a crime procedural, a western, and a Mob drama, with a bit of history. And that's what makes the promise of what can be exciting. Yet even based on what we have in the first episode, it's good stuff. Quaid has the right simmering mix of rugged and righteousness a sheriff should, and Chiklis, he of the bull-dog body, knows how to do brutal with a veneer of smooth. I'm pretty sure he won't get to the layers he got to on "The Shield" but he'll do well with this material.
The battle brewing in "Vegas" between good and evil, corruption and rule of law was a long one in real life and declaring the 'winner' is a complicated call. Here's hoping "Vegas" lasts to tell some of those tales, delve into some of those complications, and does both well.