thu 28/10/2021

Vegas, Sky Atlantic | reviews, news & interviews

Vegas, Sky Atlantic

Vegas, Sky Atlantic

This town ain't big enough for the both of them

Cleaning up Sin City: Dennis Quaid as Sheriff Ralph Lamb

Not a bad idea for a series, even if it is a tiny bit Boardwalk Empire Goes to Nevada. In short: whoosh back to the early Sixties and poke about in the wild and lawless underbelly of Las Vegas, a city awash with debauchery and corruption and under the thumb of the Mob. Better still, the show was created by Nicholas Pilleggi, screenwriter for Martin Scorsese's gangster flicks Goodfellas and Casino.

Vegas is based on the true story of Sheriff Ralph Lamb, who aimed to tame the hookers, hustlers, hitmen and hucksters who helped make Sin City such a fun destination. Lamb is given some movie star fairy-dust by Dennis Quaid, who plays him with the set jaw and gimlet eye of an Old West lawman. Indeed that's pretty much what he is, since when we first encounter him he's a cattle-rancher in full cowboy garb rounding up his sprawling herd of cattle before taking the poor critters to market. Much to his fury, the animals are stampeded by the arrival of a low-flying airliner heading for Vegas airport.

Who should step off the plane but Chicago gangster Vincent Savino (Michael Chiklis, pictured right), oozing heavyweight menace perfumed with insincere charm. He's in town to get a grip on the faltering performance of his casino, which is staffed by cringing underlings barely capable of running a bath. There is, moreover, a treacherous "rat" inside the organisation, and Vince plans to sniff him out.

Evidently the series is going to be the developing story of how Lamb and Savino slug it out for control, but first they had to drag Lamb off the range and into law enforcement. Or more specifically, back into law enforcement, since it transpires that he used to be a military policeman with the US Army in World War Two. When stationed in Italy, he tracked down a uniformed serial killer who'd been murdering local girls, a feat that won him promotion to a military "special unit".

And we know this how? Because the mayor of Las Vegas used to be Lamb's wartime commanding officer, and he obligingly recounts the story. When the murdered body of the Governer of Nevada's niece is found dumped on the outskirts of town, not far from where the miltary are about to test an atomic bomb - and for some reason the sheriff has gone mysteriously AWOL - the mayor presses Ralph Lamb back into the detection business.

He does pretty well, facing down Savino with the memorable line: "I am the law here Mr Savino, and I will decide who's breaking it." He also staged a bravura roundup of a rampaging Hell's Angels motorcycle gang on his horse. With the mayoral elections coming up, there are stirrings of murky political infighting, and we know the tentacles of the Mob are far-reaching.

There's a new sheriff in town though (the hoodlums bumped off the old one), and he's taking shit from no one. And he definitely has designs on Carrie-Ann Moss (pictured above), who plays glamorous Assistant DA Katherine O'Connell. 

When the Governer of Nevada's niece is found dumped on the outskirts of town, the mayor presses Ralph Lamb back into the detection business

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