It struck me last night that where "Vegas" has gone right and the quickly cancelled "Pan Am" and "Playboy Club" went wrong is in the presentation of its period detail. "Vegas," like "Mad Men," allows the sounds and styles of the 1960s to wash over viewers in a way where the time period is obvious but isn't directly pointed out. There aren't winks about pregnant women smoking or comments about constant drinking (Savino does drink more or less constantly, but few others do, and there's no attention brought to it). Most refreshingly, there are no pseudo-clever jokes made with historical hindsight. In "Vegas," the 1960s are a backdrop, not a reason for existence.
This week, "Vegas" shook up its procedural aspect in "Solid Citizens," which was also a relief from the last few weeks of "if Ralph looks you square in the eye you will confess all!" The twists were minimal, focusing instead on the relationship among the Lamb family (my favorite aspect of the show) and the arrival of Savino's wife (Vinessa Shaw, who starred in Hocus Pocus — Happy Halloween!) while Savino is trying to shake Milwaukee's scent on his murder of Cornaro.
Another high-point for "Vegas" is how elements from its Cases of the Week pop back up in latter episodes. Though we won't hear any more about Estelle and her murder, the connection to Milwaukee, the strike, and the Tumbleweed spilled over into "Solid Citizens," with a strange character called Jones entering the scene to follow-up on Cornaro's murder.
I hope we see Jones again — he was creepy and terribly effective, even if he was put off the scent by Savino's goon squad regarding Cornaro's "trip" to Los Angeles. Ralph is suspicious that Savino is involved (of course, he's always suspicious of Savino, rightfully), and doesn't seem to know how close he really is to the truth. But Ralph can never really catch Savino or there would be no show, so in the meantime the cat and mouse and maneuvers between the two men will have to suffice.
As for the Lambs, "Vegas" has been playing the long game with the non-procedural aspects of the drama, only dropping in a few small hints of Ralph's past or the relationships within the family. Jack mentioned this week that he ran the farm and raised Dixon while Ralph was ... an MP? Mounted Police? Apologies, didn't catch that one exactly (I may have heard "MP" just from watching too many episodes of "The Thick Of It"), but in any case, it's clear that Ralph views himself as the Lord Protector of the family, a position resented by both Jack and now Dixon, who wants to be an investigator and policeman not because he has to but because "it suits" him.
Other little subplots from former weeks — Mia and Jack's flirtation, for one — have not been brought back, but they will. Meanwhile, we did get the return of Ralph's friend Don, who double apparently as an arson investigator. Again, "Vegas" introduces characters, pulls them back to not overwhelm us (or new viewers), and then feeds them back in. It's a standard practice, but a frustrating one as well. As I continually preach, a tighter season could make these good broadcast shows on par with great cable ones but focusing more on the drama and less on the Cases of the Week.
Speaking of that brick and mortar of "Vegas," the Case of the Week had some nice elements to it, from an early confession (still delivered via Ralph's steely-eyed gaze, but at a different point than usual) which lead to a shoot-out, to a neat little switcheroo where Ralph played the part of nefarious brother-in-law of the gaming board member Larson (Greg Grunberg) in order to save Tim. A welcome change of pace. In the end, of course, Ralph prevails and justice is served and we can all feel good about it.
Still, "Solid Citizens" was about how both Savino and Ralph want to keep their families away from the violence of their business, though it seems an unlikely future for either. The straight life, it seems, is a thing of the past.
Programming note: "Vegas" will be on a short hiatus, returning in two weeks.
Musings and Miscellanea:
— Jack: "Don't take all the credit, Ralph — talent can skip a generation." Dixon: "That's right! Wait ... who's getting skipped here?"
— Needs more Katherine! She always pops up at the end having uncovered something but we never really see her work. Her outfits are fantastic, though.
— Any chance Savino actually will confide in his wife?
— "I don't drink, I just like the smell" - Jones.
— There was a calvary unit based in Fayetteville, Georgia?
— I laughed out loud at Don telling Dixon that he does do comedy every other Thursday, and he's sad he never comes to see him.
— Savino: "We all end up in the ground some day." Ralph: "Yeah, but how we get there counts for something."
"why are you surprised Governor Deal wants nothing to do with it?" _____________________________________________________ Because it…
I agree with Andrew.
Considering the true costs of Obamacare, how people are being denied under it that weren't…
And then Deal wonders why Obama didn't allocate money for the port of Savannah ..…
"I am not a billionaire. So I have to trust him." http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bread_and_circuses Amazing how easily…
Odd how similar the amounts are for the deepening of the Port of Savannah and…