DVD Review: VEGA$ (The Third Season, Volume 1)

The TV game normally plays out so that when a show hits season 3, the odds are good for producing the 100 episodes for a syndication jackpot. Why did Dan Tanna roll craps during season three of Vega$? The show’s ratings were solid during the first two seasons. The new season kept up the dazzling Las Vegas locations and a glitzy array of guest stars. Dan Tanna (Robert Urich) hadn’t changed his hairstyle. The network didn’t swap its timeslot. What happened? What wiped out the chip count? NBC moved Quincy, M.E. opposite VEGA$ on ABC. That was tantamount to murder. VEGA$: The Third Season, Volume 1 starts the last season of the greatest series to capture Middle School Las Vegas.

“Aloha, You’re Dead” kicks off the season with a trip to Hawaii. But it’s not a pleasure trip for Dan Tanna. He’s been kidnapped and brainwashed to turn into a killing machine. Who is his target? It’s his boss Roth (Tony Curtis). Who would concoct such an evil plot? How about Lorne Greene (Bonanza) dressed up in a white suit like a refuge from Fantasy Island. He’s reunited with his Cartwrght son (Pernell Roberts). John Saxon (Enter the Dragon) mixes into the intrigue. To make things even more spectacular, there’s Dian Parkinson of The Price Is Right in the prime of her career. “Black Cat Killer” brings a serial killer into Tanna’s circle of trust. Bea (Phyllis Davis) returns from vacation only to be shot in her bedroom. She’s touch and go at the hospital while Tanna hunts down a motorcycle helmet wearing nutjob. Victor Buono (Batman‘s King Tut) plays “Diamond” Jim in one of his last on screen roles. “Sudden Death” starts with a bang when Tanna kills an armed burglar in his date’s place. While he doens’t get arrested, he feels bad since the burglar was only carrying a BB gun. Why did this kid turn to crime? Gary Lockwood (2001: A Space Odyssey) is a doctor.

“Love Affair” places Dan in an uncomfortable position. He falls in love with Priscilla Barnes (Three’s Company). Turns out she’s a hooker. What makes it worse is her pimp is Dick Sargent (Bewitched). Darwood doesn’t his woman giving it away for free. “A Deadly Victim” mixes mobsters and the homeless. The big highlight is Bubba Smith (Police Academy). “Deadly Blessings” anoints a nun the next owner of the Desert Inn. Turns out some old guy gave her the dead for the property under Roth’s casino. Somebody wants the nun dead. Could it be John Vernon (National Lampoon’s Animal House)? “A Christmas Story” is a nightmare when Tanna meets a girl who swear she’s his lost daughter. Can Jill Whelan really be Dan’s kid? She’s already claiming to be Captain Stubbing’s daughter on Love Boat.

“The Andreas Addiction” is really messed up when Tanna gets kidnapped by Joe Penny. He doesn’t merely want a ransom from Binzer (Alligator‘s Bart Braverman) and Lt. Nelson (Mission: Impossible‘s Greg Morris). Penny wants to turn Tanna into a heroin addict. Hopefully he’ll be rescued before he becomes a jazz legend. “Sourdough Suite” lets an old prospector strike it rich. He doesn’t find a gold mine outside Las Vegas. Noah Beery Jr (The Rockford Files) stumbles upon a mobster shoot out and grabs a briefcase full of cash and accounting files. Somebody wants their property back from the old coot. “Murder by Mirrors” lets Bea spot a homicide during her solo flight over a subdivision. When Dan and the cops investigate, there’s no body at the house owned by Patrick Macnee (The Avengers). “Backlash” touches on the hot taboo topic of teen hookers on the Vegas Strip. But these girls are up to no good at a secondary level as they set up their johns for major blackmail action.

How could this be the beginning of the end for Dan Tanna? The season starts out just right with the action, twists and Vegas life. He’s still Michael Mann’s greatest accomplishment. How could he have been knocked off by the elderly Quincy? Not that there’s anything wrong with Quincy, but he was never as cool as Tanna.

The video is 1.33:1 full frame. The transfers dazzle like the lights on the Golden Nugget. The details shall lure you into the joys of Middle School Vegas. The audio is Dolby Digital Mono. Tanna’s voice rises up to match the pumping action music and the bullet shots. The episodes have subtitles.

Episodic Promos (0:30) are provided for each episode.

VEGA$: The Third Season, Volume 1 marks the bittersweet final outing for Dan Tanna. He’s still the king of the Las Vegas Strip looking to take down the mobsters, hookers, killers and Hollywood Squares. How could the network not double down on VEGA$?

CBS DVD presents VEGA$: The Third Season, Volume 1. Starring: Robert Urich, Greg Morris, Bart Braverman, Phyllis Davis and Tony Curtis. Boxset Contents: 12 episodes on 3 DVDs. Released: May 8, 2012. Available at Amazon.com.

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