‘Vegas:’ Bright Light City Gonna … Zzzzzzzzzzzzz

OK, so I kind of liked the pilot for CBS’ “Vegas,” while expressing reservations that if it just became “CSI: 1960,” it would get old kind-of fast.

VegasquaidHaving now seen a handful of episodes — including advance copies of the Oct. 9 and 23 installments (the show will be preempted in between by the second presidential debate) — it sort of feels like CBS started to take a gamble, and wound up rolling “Boring.”

Dennis Quaid’s square-jawed sheriff is pretty much relegated to hovering around a new chalk outline in each week. And while Michael Chiklis’ mob boss has a more interesting web of problems — including how to handle expanding his turf, and dealing with the guys back in Chicago — they’ve yet to come up with much interesting for him to do either.

About the only smart wrinkle is that Chiklis’ character resists killing the sheriff off — even when he’s being a nuisance — because having already iced one local cop, eliminating another would be bad for tourism and thus business. If you want people to feel good about
Vegaschikliscoming to spend their money, it can’t be the wild west.

That part makes sense. But everything else about “Vegas” — except the period atmosphere and the general look and Rat Pack-era feel — has been mostly a snooze. Even a promising cameo by Jonathan Banks — fresh off his splendid work on “Breaking Bad” — turns out to be mostly a waste of good casting, at least in the way he’s used initially.

As I said, Quaid feels like a CBS star, and the numbers have been encouraging, if predictably skewed to an older demo. Nor did I expect this to be “Mad Men” given CBS’ procedural comfort zone.

Nevertheless, CBS had the opportunity to make this an appointment show, a bet that appears to have come up snake eyes. Because it’s hard to imagine the bright lights of “Vegas,” as presently constituted, setting anyone’s soul on fire.


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