Thanks again for your patience!!
Solid Citizens Vegas 1.4
Last week, Vince Savino and Mr. Fowler, the Mormon banker based on real life Vegas banker, Parry Thomas, circled one another. This week, they became business partners. Also, dropped into the conversation, Mrs. Savino was to arrive within a few hours.
The Stern and Nahm casino looked like it was supposed to resemble the old Northern Hotel and Casino where back in 1931, owner Mamie Stoecker got the first gaming license issued in Nevada.
As Savino waited for his wife to arrive and looked out over Downtown/Strip (all thrown into the stew of just being Las Vegas), there was a glimpse of the upper floor façade of the what the Apache Hotel used to look a bit like before it became Benny Binion’s Horseshoe Club. And I still maintain, a character modeled after Benny (and his buddy Dobie Doc and his chauffer Gold Dollar and Florence Murphy and etc, etc) would have added some much needed characterization and color to this show. Call me crazy. This show could use some characters and some color.
Laura Savino was a looker and though she said she’s impressed with Las Vegas she didn't sell it very well. Once inside, she did like the swankiness. She was introduced to Mia who offered to show her around town. That could be interesting.
Meanwhile Katherine and Dixon were trying to figure out what happened to Danny Cornero by going through boxes of arrest records. Don’t ask. It just allows a brief respite of what passes for levity on this show as Ralph, Katherine, Dixon and Jack trade bad one-liners before the mayor arrived to save us all.
The mayor was happy with the job that Ralph was doing and wanted him to run for the office of Sheriff. At least they got the part about the Elk’s Lodge being a political player back then right.
Cool mid-century modern home that was owned by Greg Parkman (sorry, that ‘s his character on Heroes), Milt Larson, a happily married highway contractor who was a gaming commission officer (casinos need his vote to get a license)whose son was just kidnapped while his wife tried to chase the car down the street. The kid left his hula hoop behind so we would know that it’s 1960.
Ralph and Jack were on the case in a really great looking MCM modern neighborhood that’s not in Las Vegas. They found the car that the kid was in but it exploded into flames as Jack kept Ralph from burning himself to death by rushing into the burning car. (Sorry, I know you had images in your head).
A title card told us the phone was ringing in Milwaukee while the soundtrack played “Smoke Gets in Your Eyes” while a cigarette burned in an ashtray for all of us wondering where the smokers have been hiding for four episodes. A guy, looking like Willem Dafoe in Mississippi Burning answered the phone, identified himself as Jones and appeared to be a fixer of some kind. He said he was on his way to Vegas.
Meanwhile, Ralph was checking out the burned out car and trying to make sure that the kid was not in the trunk of the smoldering car. He told Dixon to call for man-power despite the fact that he has an entire department at his disposal. He coacheed Jack to talk to the parents and not to use past tense when talking about the kid. Because Jack, despite being an adult, must not be much of thinker despite the number of times we have seen him use his brain instead of his brawn.
The Savinos were in their suite. Vince was telling the missus about what he had planned for the evening (no, not that, this isn't HBO), including dinner at the Cadallic room at the Flamingo (what, they couldn't get the name of the gourmet room at the Flamingo right??????)and Sammy’s second show (that would be the late show at 1:00 am) and tomorrow they’d been invited to the Country Club by the banker and his wife. Mrs. Savino wasn’t quite sure what to make of all this. She mentioned “the girls” (again, this isn't HBO so don't go there) and Savino in a piece of expository dialog informs us that ‘the girls’ are in boarding school and he wants Mrs. S to move to Vegas. She balked, that’s not “their arrangement”. “It’s what I want”, he told her.
He reminded her that he promised her the straight life and now “it’s right in front of us” (Yeah, right, then there wouldn’t be a show unless this show is going to be about Savino trying to go straight.). “Just think about it”.
The scene cut to Ralph talking to the Larsons and trying to keep their hope up. “You have something that they want and they don’t have it. Which means Tim is alive” Ralph told them with a grim look on his face. Parkman Larson promised to cooperate, he just wanted his boy back. (Hmmm, which hotel owner could need something favorable from the gaming commission. They want us to think it’s Vincent but that seems rather obvious).
The extra man power that Ralph asked for was the Indian tracker/ranch hand that we haven’t seen since the first episode. He was going over the car pointing out clues to Dixon.
Speaking of Savino, Ralph went to The Savoy to ask Savino which one of his mob friends might have done the kidnapping. Ralph got paternal and then reminded Savino that he’ll need the Gaming Commission’s permission to take over the Tumbleweed. Savino reminded Ralph that in the long run a “suitcase full of cash” would probably work better than kidnapping the kid. Ralph’s not happy. (Imagine that).
Another phone call, Jones from Milwaukee had arrived and Savino was not happy (Imagine that). He went downstairs to welcome him. Jones was in town looking for Davey. Savino said the heat was on Davey and maybe he split town. Jones wssn’t buying it (imagine that). And he doesn’t drink. Savino was not happy (imagine that) that Jones was there because whenever he shows up “bodies start dropping” and that wouldn’t look good with the missus in town.
Mrs. Larson was a crying mess and Jack was trying to reassure her that everything was going to be okay. We were about 15 minutes into the show and the drama felt really flat. The phone rang (the motif of the week) and with the call being traced, the kidnappers demanded $80k and ‘to keep the law out of this. Cross us and it’s the last time you hear his voice.” (Yes, every cliché of every kidnapping drama since television began is checked off).
Back at the Sheriff’s Office, we learned that the call had been traced to Eastland Heights. We had a lot of subdivisions in Las Vegas back then, but Eastland Heights wasn’t one of them. That’s one of the big problems I have with this show is the fact that they don’t even try to get the details, big or small, right. Don, the tracker, showed up and showed Ralph a lighter with a military insignia that he found and that started the fire. Ralph was fired up.
Meanwhile, Mrs. Savino and Mia were having cosmos and talking. Mrs. Savino told us how she met Savino (imagine ever mob drama since television began and you get the picture).
Jones interrupted a couple making whoopee. He was, of course, looking for the sandwich (the drop) that didn’t make it to Milwaukee when Davey went missing. Jones said the envelope felt light. The woman promised to pay it back. The woman dropped the sheet hoping she can square the deal right then and there. If Jones doesn’t drink, he probably isn’t going for that.
The Lambs were still trying to find the Larson boy. They headed to the Kings Motel out off of Cypress (again, how hard would it be to get it right). Jack and Ralph butted heads over Dixon. Jack reminded Ralph that while Ralph was in the army, Jack was running the ranch and raising Dixon. Ralph just got mad. Ralph only seems to have two emotions, mad and not so mad.
A shoot out at the Kings Motel (nice art and set direction) commenced with Jack pinned down because despite the whole Sheriff’s office, Ralph only ever seems to bring his brother, son and Don with him for back up. The guy they were looking for was killed in the shoot out.
They showed pictures of the dead man to the Larson family. They didn’t recognize him. Since Tim wasn’t rescued, Parkman Larson was afraid it would get his son killed. Mrs. Larson recognized the kidnapper as “the floor man who worked for my father”. The Lambs got kicked off the case. As they walked out, the two brothers talked about the brief case they saw (because everything about this show is better told to us than shown) and how the Larsons must have been planning to handle this on their own. Ralph, of course, won’t let that happen.
I wonder if the MCM neighborhood they shot the Larson home in is the Eichler neighborhood in Woodland Hills because it’s a great looking neighborhood.
Savino and friends discover that Jones had killed the girl in the sheet and Savino’s fears of his dinner at the country club with his wife and the Fowlers was going up in smoke. He wanted it taken care of.
While they waited for the car, Mrs S mentioned that Vince was nervous. She told him to believe in himself. When she got in the car, she noticed a bullet has grazed the interior. She wanted to feign sickness but Vince wouldn't let her. He grasped her hand tightly. (Because this is Television 101).
Ralph and the Mayor had a go-around. Ralph was in over dramatic mode (How can you tell from his other modes???). It would be nice if Quaid had some actual material to work with. Ralph blamed coming to the job every day and “how it changes a man and the people it brings with him”. Well, Crime Story told a similar story with more verve, more characterization and better scripts and didn’t have to hammer us over the head in episode 4 about it.
“This city needs you” the Mayor told Ralph.
Katherine and Ralph interrogated Wade Wilson who gave the kidnapper $20k. Ralph threatened to reach up inside of the guy and pull it out. The story gets convoluted. Long story short, the guy who loaned the kidnapper the money wanted his money back (Are you surprised????). The payback was supposed to take place tomorrow.
After the commercial break, we were back in Ralph’s office with Ralph, Jack, Milt Larson and his brother. Ralph strong armed the brother and reminded him that a kid’s life was at stake. (Now remember, we haven’t seen this kid since the top of the show so any empathy we might have for him is all based on exposition instead of drama).
Parkman Larson realized his brother screwed him over and was responsible for his son being kidnapped. Ralph was now even more unhappy and even angrier (if that's possible).
So, at this point we had a kidnapping, Jones in town looking for Davey and Mrs. Savino in town with Vince trying to convince her to move to this desert oasis.
Ralph dressed up as Larson and did the drop. Luckily the kidnappers were as dumb as rocks. Jack took out one of the bad guys and Ralph fought the other and threatened to shoot the guy into being a paraplegic the rest of his life. (Imagine that, the bad guy gave up the kid's location. I'm stunned.)
Ralph went to save the kid. (Would it be any other way???) and found him in a basement. The soundtrack was a modern song by Ryan Bingham. The family was reunited. Larson apologied for doubting Ralph. Mother and son had a reunion without the help of Paul Simon.
Jones found Davey’s car at the Mojave Airport, oops McCarran Airport. It was a set up. (You’re stunned, right?) Seems Savino set up the red herring of the car.
With Dino singing “You’re Nobody”, we found out the details of the set up. Jones had left town for the City of Angels in his futile search for Davey.
Vince told us that everything went well with Fowler at dinner and the Tumbleweed is essentially his. He was thrilled Mrs. Savino had decided to move west but she had a hitch. (You’re stunned, right?) Vince has to be completely honest going forward. (Raise your hands if you see this being an epic fail.)
Katherine and Dixon were still trying to track Davey. They, too, knew he didn’t make it back to Milwaukee. Dixon said there was corn shaft in the undercarriage of Davey’s car. There was some talk about the corn but my DVR messed up for a few seconds so I didn’t get all the details of the Anthony Spilitro like death that befell Davey.
Dixon wasn’t happy being chained to a desk. He and Ralph butted heads. Ralph thought Dixon shouldn’t be in the line of fire and wanted him to stay out of the Savino business. (Raise your hands if you think that will stick.)
Ralph and Savino met way out of town. Ralph invited him out to the boonies. “You crossed a line.” Ralph told him. “Secrets don’t stay buried, neither do bodies.”
Vince told him “We all end up in the ground some day”
"It matters how we got there” Ralph retorts. “Chew on that.”
As Savino drove away, I guess we will have to chew on our cheeks because next week is pre-empted due to being Election Night.
I’m thinking there is a drinking game in this show (especially every time Ralph grimaces). By the time the show returns in two weeks, I should have that figured out.
In the meantime, I’ll be posting in the days ahead about what I think works and doesn’t work on “CBS’s #1 new show”.
How about you? Hit the comments and tell us what you think of this week's show!!!