DVD Review: VEGA$ (The Third Season, Volume 2)

Las Vegas is a town where fortunes are lost on a single roll of the dice or turn of a card. One second you’re on top of the world with a pile of chips reaching to the stars. Five seconds later, you’re hitchhiking back to Los Angeles with the remains of shrimp cocktail stuck in your teeth. How could Dan Tanna (Robert Urich) cash out at the end of VEGA$: The Third Season, Volume 2? He was the protective soul of Sin City. But sometimes no matter how hard lady luck loves you, there’s a pencil neck geek at the network that can’t tell a winner from a loser at the table. Here’s Dan Tanna’s rolling his final 11 episodes.

“The Heist” gives an Ocean’s 11 twist. Roth (Tony Curtis) wants to insure that his casinos security is able to fend off a major robbery. He makes a deal for Tanna to rob the Tropicana’s safe with a crack team of ex-convicts. Tanna goes on a recruiting trip to land such top notch talent as mastermind Werner Klemperer (Hogan’s Heroes), James MacArthur (Hawaii Five-O) and legendary cinema hood Richard Bakalyan (Chinatown). While this is supposed to be a test, one of the professionals would rather keep the loot than get a paycheck. “No Way to Treat a Victim” has a man in a creepy mask raping women around the city. Can Michael Cole (The Mod Squad) really be a suspect? “Time Bomb” brings back the dark side of Binzer (Bart Braverman). He owes a lot of money to the wrong people. If he doesn’t pay up, they’re going to kill Tanna. Chicago Bears legend Dick Butkus brings the muscle. This is also Tony Curtis’ last episode.

“Out of Sight” blinds Tanna during a fight. The goons come back later to finish the job. Can Tanna save himself in the darkness? “Set Up” sets Lt. Nelson (Mission: Impossible‘s Greg Morris) and Tanna on a double date. This date turns out bad since instead of getting lucky, Nelson gets booked for double homicide. Who can behind such evil? Could it be Richard Basehart (Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea), Simon Oakland (Kolchak: The Night Stalker) or Sybil Danning (Battle Beyond the Stars)? “The Killing” slaughters patrons at an Italian restaurant. Tanna suspects this was a hit on one diner. He needs help from Victor Buono (King Tut on Batman). International intrigue dominates “Seek and Destroy.” A Soviet pilot defects with his plane to an airbase outside Vegas. What really matters is Tori Spelling has a bit part. This was her first role in a series produced by her dad Aaron Spelling. But nobody knew it was her when she was cast. It’s true.

Who would dare kill Wayne Newton in “Dead Ringer” besides Johnny Carson? Well the big clue is the wannabe homicidal murderer can duplicate Wayne’s handwriting. Wayne brings us a taste of his stage show from the big room. Don’t be worried about missing out on the music. You get the encore of Wayne doing “Danke Schoen.” There is a two drink minimum to watch this episode. “The French Twist” involves male hustlers working out of gym. They’re seducing wealthy ladies. Randolph Mantooth (Emergency!) provides a dose of macho for the ladies. “Nightmare Come True” teams Tanna with a psychic to find a kidnapped girl. She predicts someone is out to kill Tanna? How predictable. That happens every week on the show. Although someone was out to kill Tanna for real – an ABC programming executive. “Judgement Pronounced” wraps up the show with Dan Tanna suspected of killing people around town. The killer looks like Dan and drives Dan’s Thunderbird. Can it be him? Did he crack when the word that the series was over reached him? The real killer might be Tom Urich, Robert’s brother. It’s nice he got work on the finale.

VEGA$: The Third Season, Volume 2 sadly finishes these glory tales of Middle School Vegas. So many of the casinos Tanna patrols have been demolished for mega-casinos. Dan Tanna’s old office/house/garage is now the location for American Restoration. So many of the acts on the huge marquees have passed away. Robert Urich, Greg Morris and Tony Curtis are no longer with us. Yet even with its bygone nature, VEGA$ is immortal. Dan Tanna was Michael Mann’s greatest creation wrapped tight in a vest. Now all three seasons are on DVD for those people who need a cerebral vacation to a bygone Sin City.

The Episodes
“Heist,” “No Way to Treat a Victim,” “Time Bomb,” “Out of Sight,” “Set Up,” “The Killing,” “Seek and Destroy,” “Dead Ringer,” “French Twist,” “Nightmare Come True” and “Judgement Pronounced.”

The video is 1.33:1 full frame. The transfers capture the colorful time of Las Vegas in the early ’80s. The neon pops as Tanna cruises down the Strip. The audio is Dolby Digital mono. You’ll appreciate the mix when Wayne Newton hits the stage. Episodes are subtitled.

Episode Promos (0:30) give the original network teasers.

VEGA$: The Third Season, Volume 2 brings an end to the greatest show about Las Vegas. Dan Tanna was a super stud private investigator as he cleaned up unwelcomed aspects of Sin City. This show was the perfect mix of action, mystery and glitz. How could VEGA$ have rolled craps when it was time to double down?

CBS DVD presents VEGA$: The Third Season, Volume 2 Starring: Robert Urich, Greg Morris, Phyllis Davis and Bart Braveman. Boxset Contents: 11 episodes on 3 DVDs. Released: August 14, 2012. Available at Amazon.com.

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