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Reviewed by Will Harris
as Vegas” is one of those shows which require a Herculean effort to convince someone who hasn’t seen it that it’s actually pretty good. Once you’ve read the title and seen a commercial for the series, you pretty much have the gist of it: it’s a show about a hotel and casino in Las Vegas. True enough, but in addition to all the flashiness that Vegas has to offer, it’s also an enjoyable ensemble drama with a surprising amount of comedy.
Unfortunately, by the time the show’s fourth season rolled around, its matinee star, James Caan, had decided to bow out, and if reports are to be believed, budget cuts necessitated the departure of Nikki Cox from the series, who had been a cast member since the show’s debut. To fill the void left by Cox, “Las Vegas” brought on Camille Guaty, playing a cute but wet-under-the-ears concierge named Piper Nielsen, while Caan was replaced by Tom Selleck.
The transition between Caan and Selleck worked quite well, with the story of Caan’s character, Ed Deline, being wrapped up in the first episode of Season 5 and the introduction of Selleck’s character, A.J. Cooper, as the new order of the Montecito. Cooper’s a cattle rancher who’s never owned a casino in his life, but he walks through the doors of the hotel with a new slogan: “Anything can happen.” Although this can’t be said to serve as the mantra for the series as a whole, there are certainly a few unexpected events during the course of these 17 episodes, including Cooper’s mysterious past, the surprise relationship between Piper and Cooper, and the even more surprising relationship between Piper and Mike (James Lesure).
For the most part, however, things move along much as fans of “Las Vegas” would expect them – or, at least, as fans of TV in general would. For example, Danny (Josh Duhamel) and Delinda (Molly Sims) are expecting their first child, so a considerable amount of time is spent on the pregnancy and its effects, just as you’d anticipate. The unlikely events which occurred to Sam (Vanessa Marcil) at the end of last season haunt her somewhat, but for the most part, she spends the season self-obsessed and forever in pursuit of her next “whale.” So, in other words, the status quo remains. If there’s any surprise, it’s that the season doesn’t feel nearly as guest-star heavy as it has been in the past; whether this is a budgetary situation as well or not, only NBC’s accounts know, but it helps to spotlight the dependability of the show’s primary cast.
When you reach the end of the final episode of “Las Vegas: Season 5,” you will almost certainly find yourself fighting the desire to kick in your TV. Channel that rage, however, and use it to send a letter or email to NBC to request a show-concluding “Las Vegas” movie. After five years on the air, the series and its fans deserve a better fate than what they get here, which is a cliffhanger ending followed by a screen filled with the words “To Be Continued…” But, then, the show also deserved more promotion by NBC after adding Selleck to the cast, so it’s clear that the deck was stacked against “Las Vegas” from the start.
And, yes, the pun was 100% intended.Special Features: Not too much for a final-season set, really. There’s a gag real, a featurette about the show’s visual effects which proves pretty underwhelming, and an inexplicable look at some “hot stuff” from throughout the history of the show. The only thing that really proves interesting are the webcasts from NBC.com that feature interviews with cast and crew members. The biggest disappointment is that creator Gary Scott Thompson didn’t offer up a commentary for the series finale, if only to bemoan the fact that it was the series finale. Then again, maybe he’s still keeping his fingers crossed that NBC will allow him that movie to wrap up the series’ loose ends.