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Series / Vegas (2012)

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Whoever has the strongest influence can secure the future of Las Vegas.

Vegas was a period drama that ran on CBS during the 2012-2013 TV season.

It's 1960 and Las Vegas is experiencing a major growth spurt. Mayor Ted Bennett is about to unveil his new vision for the city when he is informed that the governor's niece has been murdered and the sheriff is nowhere to be found. Desperate, the mayor asks that local rancher Ralph Lamb (Dennis Quaid) be brought to him. During World War 2, Lamb served as a military policeman and Bennet remembers how Lamb was able to catch a serial killer in Italy when the villagers were ready to hang an innocent man for the crimes. Bennet offers to appoint Lamb as deputy sheriff and put him in charge of the murder case. A reluctant Lamb accepts the job and recruits his younger brother Jack (Jason O'Mara) and son Dixon (Taylor Handley) to help him investigate. Assistant district attorney Katherine O'Connell (Carrie-Anne Moss) assists them with the case.

That same day Chicago mobster Vincent Savino (Michael Chiklis) arrives to take over the mob-run Savoy casino. He is a ruthless gangster with extensive experience running casinos and his Chicago bosses expect him to get their Las Vegas operations back into shape.

When the previous sheriff is found dead, the mayor tells Ralph Lamb that he is the new sheriff for law and order in Las Vegas and Clark County.

Tropes in this series:

  • Absurdly High-Stakes Game: When a Texas millionaire complains that the $500 bet limit at the blackjack table is too low, Sovino humors him and declares that the guy can place any size bet he feels. The guy promptly bets $500,000 and then doubles down for a $1,000,000 bet. He wins and the rest of the episode Sovino desperately tries to get the guy to keep on gambling so the casino can recover the money. At the end of the episode Mia plays poker with the guy and they both go all-in with $1,000,000 worth of chips. She wins and then reveals that her chips were only symbolic and she actually offered to sleep with the millionaire if she lost.
  • All Bikers are Hells Angels: A group of Hell's Angels terrorize Las Vegas in the pilot.
  • Based on a True Story: fictionalized version of Clark County Sheriff Ralph Lamb.
  • Blackmail: Savino does this to Jack after getting information that Rizzo was gunned down by him.
  • Boomtown: Las Vegas is experiencing another growth spurt and there are fortunes to be made and lost.
  • Bullying the Dragon: It's a very bad idea to try to steal from the mob-owned casinos or to try to cheat them on a business deal. Those who attempt and fail are generally quite happy that they are arrested by the police before the mob gets to them.
  • Butt-Monkey: Savino to any made guy due to having an Irish grandparent and therefore not eligible to become a made guy himself.
  • Bury Your Gays: The Body of the Week in "Masquerade" turns out to be one half of a lesbian couple (and disowned by her father, a church deacon), though it didn't have anything to do with her death.
  • Can't Kill You, Still Need You:
    • When Lamb busts a mobster for illegal gambling, he calls a council demanding Lamb be killed. Savino says he has no problem with it ("hell, I'd probably enjoy it") but doing so risks bringing the FBI and gaming commision down on them. More importantly, it means two dead sheriffs in a month and that will be a blow to the tourist trade and their profits. Thus, the council reasons they have to let Lamb live for now.
    • Invoked by Savino when he's accused of killing a local construction boss. Savino points out that the man was the only guy in Vegas who could handle major jobs and thus he, and many other casino owners, are losing money with his death. Indeed, Savino actually gave the guy a break for skimming from the mob because of his importance.
    • Going to meet what they think are a simple band of ranchers, Savino and Rizzo are beaten down by a pack of wealthy Mormons who have basically controlled this area for decades and are ready to treat the mobsters like any other threat. Savino points out that progress is causing these men to lose their farms and resources and their way of life is almost over. He says that if they want power in modern Vegas, they need control of a casino. When the Mormon leader says he doesn't know anything about running a casino, Savino offers to do it for him.
  • The Casanova: Dixon Lamb is a big hit with the ladies and in his Establishing Character Moment he is trying to get away from an angry husband firing a shotgun.
  • Corrupt Cop: The former sheriff was working for the mob. Although he was willing to back out and tell the federal/state government.
  • Corrupt Politician:
  • Cowboy Cop: Ralph Lamb is both a cowboy and a cop and he has a very direct approach to crime solving.
  • Dating Catwoman: Jack, the sheriff's brother and deputy, is sweet on Mia, Savino's floor manager and daughter of a mobster.
  • The Dreaded: Even a ruthless mobster like Savino is afraid of Jones.
  • Dude, Where's My Respect?: Both Jack and Dixon Lamb feel that Ralph is taking them for granted and not giving them the respect they deserve.
  • Enemy Mine:
    • Ralph and Vincent team up briefly to capture a murderer that is forging Savoy casino chips and again when they take on a Milwaukee Mob assassin.
    • The Las Vegas Sheriff's Department and Savino's mob team up to take on the Mormons. Especially when they're involved with the death of Ralph's wife.
  • Even Evil Has Loved Ones: Savino may be a mobster and cold-blooded killer but he's also a good husband and truly loves his kids.
    • When Savino faces execution by a rival, the closest he comes to begging is asking that his body at least be left in enough shape for his family to have an open casket funeral.
    • Indeed, Savino is eventually forced to send his wife away because he knows as long as she's in town, she'll be either a target for enemies or risks becoming "collateral damage" in an attack on Savino.
    • One episode opens with Savino and his men threatening a local construction group with harm for possibly skimming money off their contracts. As soon as the threats are finished, the mobsters gab about Christmas shopping for their families with their Jewish accountant joking that they have only one night to worry about while he has to shop for eight.
  • Executive Meddling: In-Universe. Savino's bosses like to meddle in the way he runs the Las Vegas operation without really understanding how to operate a large legal casino. When Mia Rizzo tells her father that Savino shot down her idea to make the blackjack tables more profitable, Rizzo Sr. makes Savino implement the idea against his objections. Savino then explains to Mia that the idea has been tried before and it ended up costing a casino a lot of money in the long term. Since he cannot disobey a 'suggestion' from Johny Rizzo, the Savoy's profits will suffer as a result.
  • Foreshadowing: Savino consistently brings up ideas of improvements to the Savoy that would make it more like the Strip casinos of the present day that Angelo and Johnny Rizzo summarily dismiss.
  • Four Eyes, Zero Soul: Jones wears a pair of glasses that make him look like a non-threatening salesman. He is a ruthless Professional Killer who will not hesitate to shoot innocent witnesses or cops.
  • He Knows Too Much:
    • The former sheriff was killed because he threatened to go to the feds with what he knew.
    • A woman is murdered because she found out that her boss was stealing from his mob bosses.
    • The boss who murdered the woman in the above was murdered before he could tell the Feds what he knew.
  • Heroic BSoD: When Ralph and Jack find out that Dixon's framed for being up Violet, a Hollywood actress, by beating her face. This was due to Silver intimidating her.
  • Hired to Hunt Yourself: Played with. Jack, who killed Johnny Rizzo, volunteers to lead the investigation.
  • Idiot Ball: When the body of a murdered mobster is found, Savino lampshades the poor choice of burial spot to two goons.
    Savino: A farm? You buried him in a place that's constantly being dug up?!
  • Improvised Lockpick: In the episode "Exposure", Jack forces open a locked desk drawer by using a letter-opener on the lock.
  • Improvised Weapon: Ralph uses a broom handle to catch a jewel store robber by whacking him at his legs to make him trip. This follows by more beatings to completely subdue the robber while the public watched.
  • Interservice Rivalry: In "Exposure" there's a few moments of ribbing between Ralph, a former Army MP, and the Air Force investigator assigned to the Case of the Week.
  • The Magic Poker Equation: Averted during a poker hand with $2,000,000 in the pot. One player has a pair and the other one has a busted straight and was just bluffing.
  • Mugging the Monster: Johnny Rizzo decides to cheat their banker on the Tumbleweed loan. He does not realize that the bank is owned by the local Mormons who have a century's worth of experience dealing with interlopers who try to take what is theirs.
  • New Media Are Evil: The Savinos masterfully manipulate the new medium of television to give Grady a massive advantage in the mayoral elections.
  • Poor Communication Kills: When Jones comes to Vegas to find out what happened to Cornaro, Savino tells his men to park Cornaro's car at the airport so it looks like Cornaro skipped town. The problem is that the mobster who got rid of the car never told anyone what he did with it and has since left Vegas.
  • Pop the Tires: At the end of the pilot, Sheriff Lamb uses his rifle to shoot out the front tires of the Killer of the Week's getaway car. Helps that it was coming right at him.
  • Ruthless Foreign Gangsters: The influx of criminals from the Midwest and California is causing serious problems for local law enforcement.
  • Shame If Something Happened: The Vegas mob use this to subtly threaten a business partner, all while keeping up the facade of "helpful neighbors" - helpful neighbors that can find you and strand you and your family in the desert if you cross them.
  • Ship Tease:
    • Ralph and Katherine.
    • Jack and Mia. But Ralph's against it.
    • Dixon and Yvonne.
  • Short Runner: Axed after only one season. Being put on the Friday Night Death Slot for its final five episodes didn't help.
  • Someone Has to Do It: The government telling Ralph to be the sheriff in Las Vegas (alongside his family) since the previous one was assassinated.
  • Suspiciously Idle Officers: When Sheriff Ralph Lamb confronts corrupt film mogul Barry Silver, he is surprised to discover that Silver's bodyguards are actually active-duty LAPD detectives. Ralph was previously warned about how rich and connected Silver was but he did not think that Silver actually had the LAPD on his payroll. The detectives are later shown willing to shoot Ralph and his deputies in order to prevent Silver's arrest.
  • Talking Your Way Out: How Savino got his out of a mess between him and the Mormons.
  • "The Reason You Suck" Speech: Savino and Rizzo do this to each other after they got away from the Mormons.
  • They Look Just Like Everyone Else!: Milwaukee contract killer Jones, who looks like any bespectacled office worker.
  • Time to Move: Done with a Savoy Casino/Hotel maid, averted since the family didn't object to go to Florida with expenses paid up thanks to the Chicago mob to ensure that she won't be able to be in a court.
  • Unintentionally Notorious Crime: One of these starts the whole series: the murder of a young woman would have been considered business as usual in Las Vegas and swept under the rug if anybody paid the sheriff enough, except that the woman is the governor's niece and he is willing to send the National Guard and enable Martial Law unless someone solves that case right now. This leads to the appointment of Ralph Lamb as Sheriff.
  • We Are Experiencing Technical Difficulties: The ending of "The Real Thing" in the broadcast of the debates, courtesy of Savino's boys taking an ax to the antenna.
  • X Meets Y:invoked In "All That Glitters," Savino talks Angelo out of killing Ralph by stating that the Mob's gambling rackets could recover from Fidel Castro's overthrow of Fulgencio Batista in the form of Las Vegas becoming "Havana in the desert."
  • You Remind Me of X: The oak tree in the Lamb farm reminds Ralph of his wife who passed away while he was deployed in the Italian theater. He refuses to let anyone cut it down.