In 1980s cop show Miami Vice, the fashion and style of the city became as much a part of the drama as the deeds of Crockett and Tubbs. Las Vegas consciously plays for a similar angle with the opening sequence which swoops throughout the glamorous nightlife of the city, from the gambling halls to the fancy restaurants, to a couple frantically making love.
The couple then appear in the opening scene as a group of security men burst in on them, but the tension is dispelled as the woman furtively says “Hello, daddy” to a stern-looking Ed Deline (James Caan). It then turns out her partner is Danny McCoy (Josh Duhamel), the latest recruit to Deline’s team of casino surveillance security, who was oblivious of the identity of his lover.
It’s a nice start as it immediately places the two leads in conflict, while McCoy strives to prove himself to his new boss. As is transpires, Caan is woefully underused and after a scene in a restaurant with his wife, daughter and Danny where he is painted as a Tony Soprano figure – respected and feared as a professional but easily manipulated by his family – he spends much of his time frowning and offering grudging praise to his new protégé.
As it was so busy showing off ostentatious camera techniques, where the viewer is dragged through the monitoring screen in Deline’s control room to the casino gaming tables, there was little in the way of plot. The major thread was of a gambler who was mysteriously winning huge pots of cash on blackjack, and while it had a certain Jonathan Creek intrigue, it wasn’t particularly engaging. Two minor plots about a feuding couple on holiday in Vegas and a loser who was on a winning streak were resolved by Danny within a minute of each other as he demonstrated both his wisdom and compassion in a rather weak display of characterisation.
Another problem was the inclusion of three young female characters who had long dark hair, and whom I mistook on at least one occasion – not a good idea on the first episode. And it is this sort of slipshod planning that ultimately blights the show as the drama seems to have to fit in around the substance and style of the city of Las Vegas.