Judge P.S. Colbert wonders if that swing-shift dancer at the Crazy Horse Saloon recalls him fondly?
Our reviews of Vega$: The First Season, Volume 1 (published November 4th, 2009), Vega$: The Second Season, Volume 1 (published December 31st, 2010), and Vega$: The Third Season, Volume 2 (published August 14th, 2012) are also available.
Dan Tanna: Angel Dusted!
Would you believe the premiere P.I. and straightest arrow in Sin City, flying down the Strip in his custom T-Bird, was zonked out of his skull on PCP? Well, that's but one of the wonders awaiting you among the eleven episodes collected in Vega$: The Third Season, Volume 1.
• "Aloha, You're Dead (Parts 1 & 2)"—This double-sized season opener finds Tanna (Robert Urich, The Ice Pirates) kidnapped and shipped by crate to Hawaii, where he's directed to assassinate his best friend, Philip Roth (Tony Curtis, Some Like It Hot). This deluxe story arc is notable for reuniting guest stars Lorne Greene and Pernell Roberts (who once played father and son in Bonanza ) as villainous colleagues, and for its "brainwash" methodology, stolen straight out of Zoolander. Or is it the other way around?
• "Black Cat Killer"—A black-shrouded motorcyclist has been killing residents in a seemingly random pattern. Next on the list? Dan's beautiful secretary, Bea (Phyllis Davis, Sweet Sugar).
• "Sudden Death"—Dan deals with the guilt that comes from killing in self-defense. An interesting perspective, and a great showcase for Urich's acting abilities.
• "Love Affair"—Dan finally gives his heart away, and wouldn't you just know it…to a $2,500 a night call girl? Priscilla Barnes (Three's Company) plays the high-priced escort, and Dick Sargent (Darrin #2 on Bewitched) is her surprisingly menacing pimp.
• "A Deadly Victim"—Three-time Oscar nominee Eleanor Parker (Caged) plays a skid-row wino who accidentally foils a professional hit and becomes a marked woman. Luckily, she's an old friend of Dan Tanna's.
• "Deadly Blessing"—Cassie Yates returns as Dan's favorite nun, Sister Bridget Marie Callahan, who discovers she holds the deed to a great bit of Vegas land, including the property on which the Desert Inn sits. She then realizes someone is trying to quit claim her.
• "Christmas Story"—For the record, this one does not take place in Vegas, nor does it involve an Official Red Ryder 200 shot carbine-action range-model air rifle.
• "Andreas Addiction"—An unusually harrowing episode involving a spiteful ex-con (Joe Penny, Jake And The Fatman) with a vendetta against Dan, and his plan to exact revenge through chemical means.
• "Sourdough Suite"—Noah Beery Jr. (The Rockford Files) is a certified hoot, playing Josiah Sparks, an ol' time prospector who's got a pack mule named Juliet, and a briefcase full of cash he picked up at the scene of a deadly shoot-out between "Syndicate" members deep in the desert.
• "Murder By Mirrors"—Bea's pretty head is on the chopping block again. This time, she's the quarry of the very suave and sophisticated Mr. Lyle Jeffries (Patrick Macnee, The Avengers).
• "Backlash"—Dan wants to honor a mother's request to get her daughter out of an underage sex trafficking operation. But to do so, he'll have to be working against the law.
By now, you've been sufficiently warned by previous Vega$ season reviews not to expect much more in the way of hard-hitting drama and intellectual depth than tabloid-level topicality and brain-numbing eye candy. Heck, I knew all that back in the day, when I was a hormonal high-schooler actually living in Las Vegas and tuning into the show only because: a) I was still too young to go out on school nights, and b) Watching showgirls and bikini-clad guest starlets sure beats studying!
Seeing these episodes three decades later, I was amazed to find that, because I didn't remember a single thing about them, it was like discovering them for the first time. What was once painfully average viewing fare is now a giddy, fun alternative to the grim, gory, and techno-savvy of today's cop shows. Of course, there's hammy histrionics and forehead-slappingly trite dialogue, but knowing that going in makes it possible to grade this costume jewelry gem on a curve. Plus, it goes great with any empty-caloried snack food choice you'd care to make.
I've read other reviewer's complaints about "black levels" and the occasional "soft shot," but either I lucked out with a better copy or somebody's getting paid by the nit-picky, because I found the quality of these standard definition 1.33:1 full frame transfers to be remarkably solid. Sure, the colors are a bit inconsistent, and there's evidence of dirt and debris, but I don't see how one can grade a thirty year old television series without a curve!
By the same token, the Dolby 2.0 Mono track isn't revelatory, but gets the point across, and Paramount has been kind enough to supply English subtitles for further assistance. Calling the promotional lead-ins that precede each episode a "bonus feature" or even an "extra" seems a bit much, but with respect to "truth in advertising" violations, there are much bigger fish to fry.
Say…We've got a little time left before the second half of the season arrives. How 'bout we hit a couple nickel slots and a buffet?
There are thousands of holes in the Nevada desert and you want me to find
Vega$ guilty?! Case dismissed, and comp Mr. Tanna's room!
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