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Series / Vega$

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Vega$ was a television series from ABC that aired from 1978 to 1981. It revolved around the life of Las Vegas private investigator Dan Tanna (Robert Urich) who went around solving various crimes. He drives around in a classic car and has a secretary that probably has a bit of a crush on him.


This series provides examples of:

  • All Bikers Are Hells Angels: Averted in "Death Mountain" when a local biker gang becomes infuriated by three bikers killing an Indian chief, as it could give them a bad reputation. They offer to help Tanna and the gang leader assists in the final showdown.
  • Alliterative Name: Bobby 'Binzer' Borso - played by actor Bart Braverman!
    • "Mother Mishkin" had not only a villain named Werner Worthmeyer but the victim is only known by Mother Mishkin.
  • And Starring: Midway through season 1 Tony Curtis was added to the main credits roll- despite his character Roth only having very sporadic appearances afterwards.
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  • As Himself: Name any major headline act in Las Vegas in the 1970's - chances are they popped up on the show. A notable example was Wayne Newton playing himself, terrorized by a psychopath who believed he was the real Wayne Newton.
  • Benevolent Boss: Philip "Slick" Roth is incredibly kind-hearted and generous despite his outward demeanor of being tough.
  • Berserk Button: Tanna has a specific hatred for rapists and pimps.
  • Bloodless Carnage: Most injuries have none at all, and if blood must be shows it's a few drops worth at most.
  • Cain and Abel: Johnny Rodmore in "The Usurper", who's taken over Roth's casino, is really his brother, J.D. Roth, who's out to destroy him.
  • Caper Crew: Tanna arranges one in "Heist" to run a mock robbery of the desert Inn, calling in several trusted experts to arrange it. Backfired when one betrays the rest to steal the money for real.
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  • Characterization Marches On: Binzer appeared briefly in the pilot, having been hired by the crooks to tail Tanna, but managed to be caught quickly. In the first episode he's been hired on at the Desert Inn as a pool boy, giving up crime. By the second episode Tanna has hired him as an assistant though he's largely used as a Butt-Monkey character early on. After the events of "Doubtful Target" however his character status was raised considerably.
  • Chuck Cunningham Syndrome: The rather large cast was whittled down over time, often with no mention of the character afterwards. Angela last appeared in episode 20 with both Bella and Harold Two-Leaf vanishing during season 2. By the end there were only three regular characters left.
  • Cool Car: Dan's red Thunderbird. Which actually got fan mail!
  • Death by Falling Over: Dan's girlfriend Pam, a hooker who wants to get out, is killed by her pimp Phil King (Dick Sargent) in the episode "Love Affair", when he strikes her, causing her to fall and hit her head on a wrought iron table near his pool and then fall into the pool.
  • Driving a Desk: Close-up driving shots are obviously done this way.
  • Dumb Blonde: Angela largely gives off this impression, though she usually proves to be much smarter than the stereotype.
  • Early-Bird Cameo: Dan Tanna briefly appeared in the Charlie's Angels episode "Angels in Vegas" which aired shortly before the series began airing.
  • Early Installment Weirdness: From the pilot we have Lt. George Nelson(the character would be renamed to Dave Nelson for the series), a different mix of the main theme song and the warehouse Tanna lives in belongs to the Maxim Hotel rather than the Desert Inn.
  • Fanservice: All over the place. Bikini girls by the hotel pool, Vegas showgirls in skimpy suits, and any excuse to get Tanna shirtless(Robert Urich put on 40 pounds of muscle before the series began). Unfortunately the moral guardians going after such content on television was largely what got the show cancelled after the 3rd season.
  • Friend on the Force: Lt. Nelson was a no-nonsense copper, but always had Tanna's back and handed him cases Las Vegas Metro couldn't touch. There was also Bella, who worked in records and often helped Tanna find information or look up suspects.
  • Heist Episode: Season 3's "Heist" invokes this when Roth orders Tanna to rob the Desert Inn's vault to test security, due to a security guard being killed during an armored car robbery. He wishes to find any potential flaws in the system to plug them.
  • Jack the Ripoff: Season 1's "The Ripper" has a killer following the original 1888 murders carefully, sticking to the same timeline and even selecting victims with similar names. Due to schizoprenia and a deteriorating state of mind he actually believes he is Jack, or at least Jack reincarnated.
  • Kitchen Chase: In "The Pageant", Dan Tanna chases a rapist through a casino kitchen.
  • Letters 2 Numbers: It is spelled "Vega$" after all.
  • Manchurian Agent: Binzer becomes one when, in an attempt to gain some self-help, the hypnotist implants him with instructions to serve a pair of gangsters commit crimes, which almost leads to a basketball game being taken out by a bomb when a player refuses to throw a game.
  • Ms. Fanservice: Angela, during her time on the show. When working in the office she was usually wearing rather skimpy clothing with her nipples visibly poking at her shirt. She was a Vegas showgirl and often wore minimal clothing, and in her final appearance wore a very small bikini in the final scene.
  • Only Known by Their Nickname: Inverted- Philip Roth hates being called "Slick" but allows Dan to use it as they've known each other for many years.
  • Running Gag: "Paging Mr. Cohen, Mr. Burt Cohen" is heard over the Desert Inn's intercom constantly throughout the series. The man himselfnote  finally shows up at the end of season 2 in "Siege of the Desert Inn".
  • Speak Now or Forever Hold Your Peace: Dan tries to stop his secretary Bea from marrying a man who is only doing so in order to raid the trust fund for her daughter, which he will do by killing her and her daughter after they're married, a particular practice he did at least once before.
  • Split Personality: The man threatening stage performer Jeremy Welles in "The Man Who Was Twice" turned out to be an alternate personality. Guilt over his sister's death and refusal to work the family farm caused a second persona to develop in him that blamed Jeremy for her death- however while the second "Martin" persona was fully aware of the situation, Jeremy had no idea of what was going on even when Martin was sending him death threats.
  • Swiss Cheese Security: Tanna lived and worked out of a Desert Inn storage warehouse with only a garage door and a front door keeping anyone out. Couple the poor security with his business being advertised, the villains were CONSTANTLY breaking into the place. No effort was ever made to reinforce the entrances or better secure the building, despite the constant string of frame-ups against Tanna, attempts on Tanna's life(one instance involved a landmine placed under a rug, another involved heroin put into his food), people he was trying to protect being kidnapped, etc.
  • The Vietnam Vet: Tanna himself, along with Harold Two-Leaf and Mitch Costigan. All three had been in the same platoon. "Kill Dan Tanna!" sees their former CO attempting to kill Dan over an incident during the war. "Casualty of War" involved a drug smuggling sergeant that Mitch busted returning for revenge.
  • Whole Plot Reference: "Golden Gate Cop Killer" takes a lot of cues from Dirty Harry especially in its decision to cast Andrew Robinson as a mentally unstable serial killer.
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