What is it about "Vegas" that is so engaging? It has plenty of problems, starting with some pretty ludicrous crime plots week by week, and it hasn't yet fleshed out its characters very well. Maybe it's that it's just filmed so lusciously that I become lulled into a hypnotic state in which the filtered light and vibrantly saturated colors wash over me and I forget all about the fact that the Lamb family just waltzed into a top secret (top!) military base that's studying radiation effects by poisoning an entire air squadron. But hey, let's talk Army-Air Force football!
The same things that worked in "Exposure" are the same things that have worked all season for "Vegas," and what hasn't worked still doesn't. The Case of the Week often feels shoehorned, but there are aspects of the rest of the series that are really promising. Though some have said Quaid's hammy performance detracts from the show, I think his camera mugging fits in with both his character and the show itself.
There's something about "Vegas" that is almost, dare I say, wholesome? We get introduced to Savino's mistress, the singer Diane Desmond (Ivana Milicevic), but their affair is from a long time ago and seems to have happened to a much different Savino that we now know. And in any case, he's not interested in pursuing it now. He doesn't give away his wife's necklace, he doesn't sleep with Diane, and he attempts to protect Rizzo from her on top of everything else.
Further, the murders aren't grisly, or at least aren't served up with intense close-ups of gore or disturbing images. Most of the corpses aren't dwelt upon by the camera, and there's something to be said for that at a time where usually no detail is left unappreciated by a lingering shot in other crime procedurals.
"Vegas" is both hurried and unhurried with its plot pacing - the Cases of the Week fly by with hardly any hitches, whereas the personal stories (Jack and Mia's flirtation, Ralph and Katherine's non-flirtation) seem to drag out for ages. I prefer the latter, but I doubt CBS has the patience to see it through. It already cut "Vegas'" episode order down by one (to 21) and while the ratings are solid (though dropped off immensely from its premiere), they may not be solid enough for broadcast.
But "Vegas" is stylish in a way that so few shows are, with its beautiful close ups of perfectly made-up actresses, and the crispness of its men in suits. The camera work is often creative and unhurried, letting light fill the sets and shadows set deeply around it. And just as you start to question the radiation plot, Diane Desmond sings Billie Holiday and everything is ok again.
The show has also established a great array of characters that have plenty of places to go, and who interact so well with one another. I particularly liked the development of Katherine being called out and summarily dismissed by Laura, only to be brought back with everything out on the table that while the two each have an agenda, maybe they can find a way to meet in the middle. Their relationship parallels Savino and Ralph's in some ways, but the ladies are ever so much more transparent and civilized with their dealings. There are things to be learned from this!
If it sounds like I'm doing a season wrap-up for "Vegas," it may well be the case. Since the show is going on (I believe) a holiday hiatus (at least, CBS isn't showing promos for any new episodes or teasing its return), I'm thinking this may be a good time to bid it farewell from weekly reviews. I think it has absolutely proved itself worthy television, and it's in a good timeslot so that while it couldn't compete with, say, the Sunday night Emmy-Award winning series, it has a nice mid-week space to provide a nice hour of fun TV. And "Vegas" is fun, but it can be hard to delve deep into a show that is so surface-driven. It's a beautiful surface, though!
But we'll see, the second part of the show's run may prove to have a lot more drama than the first. But for now I'll just say that I've enjoyed my stay in Las Vegas immensely, but it may be time to pack things up and head back to the ranch.
Musings and Miscellanea:
- "It's 9 o'clock somewhere" - Dixon, with a wink to Jimmy Buffet.
- I love the little moments like when Lt Kemp called Ralph and Jack out for falling for the trap they just said had been set up for them.
- I also love it when they turn the tables and set a trap of their own! #Jurisdiction
- So they've reopened the Marilyn Lamb Death issue. DOA and no foul play ... what are you squinting at, Ralph?
- Friggin' Rizzo, I hope to see the back of him sooner than later.
- "If you're asking about the missing kitten, we're plumb out of leads" - Jack to Mia, I love their flirtations!
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