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Vega$
Format Crime drama
Created by Michael Mann
Starring Robert Urich
Phyllis Davis
Bart Braverman
Tony Curtis
Naomi Stevens
Judy Landers
Greg Morris
Composer(s) John Beal
Dominic Frontiere
Artie Kane
Country of origin United States
No. of seasons 3
No. of episodes 69
Production
Producer(s) Douglas S. Cramer
Aaron Spelling
E. Duke Vincent
Running time 55 Minutes
Production company(s) Aaron Spelling Productions
Broadcast
Original channel ABC
Original run 1978 – 1981

Vega$ is an American detective television drama series that aired on ABC between 1978 and 1981. It was produced by Aaron Spelling. The series, (with the exception of special episodes in Hawaii & San Francisco) was filmed in its entirety in Las Vegas, Nevada, which is believed to be the first television series produced entirely in Las Vegas. The show starred Robert Urich as private detective Dan Tanna, who drove around the streets of Las Vegas in a red 1957 Ford Thunderbird[1] solving crimes and making Las Vegas a better place for residents and tourists alike. The series was one of the first shows to air on the FX Network when it began in 1994 but has not aired in the U.S. in over a decade.

Contents

Plot

Dan Tanna was a detective available for private hire. One of his chief clients was Phil Roth (Tony Curtis), aka Slick, the owner of the Desert Inn Hotel/Casino/Country Club in Las Vegas. Tanna was always called in when something was awry at the hotel. Many times this involved the criminal element, though he was sometimes brought in to investigate the absurd. One example included a nun who claimed to own the land on which the Desert Inn stood, when she was bequeathed an old deed from a prospector who died. (To further complicate matters, she initially wanted to turn the hotel into a convent.)

Tanna lived on the Las Vegas Strip next to Circus Circus Hotel/Casino, in a warehouse owned by the Desert Inn, which he converted into his living place. The design of Tanna's pad (long before the popularity of loft space) allowed him to park his T-bird in his living room. Tanna also used gadgets that were very high-tech for the time (but are pretty commonplace today), such as a car-phone and an answering machine (that physically picked the phone up off the hook and the receiver spoke directly into the microphone of a tape recorder). This warehouse in reality no longer exists, as it was replaced by a shopping center which included an Arby's and a museum; which in turn has been replaced with a new high-rise condominium tower.

Tanna's choice of weapon was a Dan Wesson Firearms .357 magnum that he didn't like to use, but would if the situation deemed necessary. Most often Tanna would use more non-lethal means, such as his fists.

Tanna often did battle with many of the various criminal element that would threaten the desert oasis. Some villains he faced include a psychopath who thought he was Wayne Newton (and subsequently Newton was impersonating him), as well as a mafia boss named Martin Gleaver (Tom Simcox) who blackmailed a magic sisters act with photographs of "all the sick/weird things they used to do" referring to when they used to host risque Hollywood parties.

Tanna was a veteran of the Vietnam conflict. This was illustrated through flashbacks in various episodes. It is curious, however, that during these flashbacks, he was participating in ground combat. In a later episode, where he gets mixed up with a case involving a defector from the Soviet Union, he shows up at Nellis Air Force Base in his old United States Air Force uniform. (The Air Force was rarely, but occasionally, involved in direct ground combat during Vietnam.) He is also referred to as "Captain Tanna", indicating that he was an officer. He served with his best friends Harlon Two-Leaf (Will Sampson), the chief of a local Native American tribe, and Mitch Costigan (Chick Venerra), a Vegas lounge singer. Two-Leaf and Costigan would occasionally join Tanna in investigating various mysteries.

Supporting cast

Phyllis Davis played Beatrice, his assistant who is a single mom and a former showgirl. There is evidence that she was married before, but her husband had died. Although she and Tanna made a dashing couple, their relationship seemed to be purely platonic. Greg Morris played Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department Lt. David Nelson. Nelson was a no-nonsense cop who often had Tanna's back (and he, his). While Nelson was never one to breach protocol, he often secretly assisted Tanna in cases Metro Police couldn't officially touch. Bart Braverman played Binzer, a college student who did Dan Tanna's leg work and usually provided comic relief. In the beginning of the series, Binzer was a petty thief who fled to Vegas to escape his former partners in crime from back east, as described in one episode, where his real name is revealed to be Robert Borso. Tanna seemed to have taken him under his wing and used his knowledge and connections of the street. Judy Landers played Dan Tanna's other assistant, Angie, who was also a showgirl, but unlike the savvy Beatrice was usually an airhead and would get things screwed up. She appeared only during the first season. Despite being initially billed as a co-star, Tony Curtis appeared infrequently during the first season, and only made a few appearances in subesequent years.

Guest stars

The series featured numerous performances and cameos by notable guest stars including: Dean Martin, Kim Basinger, Melanie Griffith, Kim Cattrall, Abe Vigoda, Morey Amsterdam, Shelley Fabares, Shelley Berman, Savannah Smith Boucher, Alex Trebek, Sid Caesar, Slim Pickens, Isabel Sanford, Maureen McCormick, Cesar Romero, Doc Severinsen, Mamie Van Doren, Muhammad Ali, Robert Loggia, Leslie Nielsen, Lola Falana, Rudolph "Minnesota Fats" Wanderone, Heather Menzies (Urich's real-life wife), Eve Arden, Barbi Benton, Lisa Hartman, Shelley Winters, Wayne Newton, Captain & Tennille, Wolfman Jack, Tanya Roberts, Lorne Greene, Erin Gray, Gary Lockwood, William Garbacz, June Lockhart and Dick Butkus.

Crossovers

In the Season 3 premiere of Charlie's Angels titled "Angels in Vegas", Robert Urich does a cameo as his Vega$ character Tanna. This episode aired the week before the Vega$ series premiere.

DVD Releases

CBS DVD (distributed by Paramount) released Season 1, Volume 1 and Volume 2 of Vega$ on DVD in Region 1 for the very first time.

DVD Name Ep # Release Date
Season 1, Volume 1 13 October 20, 2009
Season 1, Volume 2 12 February 9, 2010

References

External links

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