The Real Thing episode 6
Ah, Vegas you haven't really changed (or gotten any better). Each week I tune in hoping that this week will be the one where story and characterization will become important and this show will begin to turn into something more than CSI: The Early Years. But so far, no luck. Hell, even in the early years, Gil Grissom was a much more interesting character than any character on Vegas.
This is the episode where we introduce the drinking game. With 21 episodes ordered, I don't know about you, but a drinking game seems to help the episode go faster and seem less shallow. More points for you if you drink retro cocktails instead of beer or wine during the episode.
Dennis Quaid's characterization of Ralph Lamb hasn't changed. It's still one dimensional. There is no way a drinking game can be modeled around Quaid smiling because he doesn’t smile enough to make the drinking game pay off. Which is really too bad because Quaid has a great smile. It’s a shame that this Ralph Lamb is so one-dimensional with only two emotions, very taciturn and very flustered (when he’s around Katherine). It would be great if Ralph was an actual character that had an array of emotions like regular people but that doesn’t seem to be in the cards. This show is all about archetypes and the audience suffers because of it.
At the top of the show, Ralph and Dixon scare three bandits and Ralph threatens to kill them to keep from doing paperwork and to get them to return the money they stole from various gas stations.
A dentist has an emergency, a cigarette girl with a chipped tooth. He gives her gas and turns up the cool looking radio.
In the count room, someone might have the flu and the gaming control board shows up to investigate and we find out that someone is making counterfeit gaming chips. Savino is unhappy that the mayor is cracking down and Savino wants a new mayor.
Mrs. Savino is not happy about having to have lunch alone and the implication is that Vinny used to screw around when he should have been spending time with the missus.
Back at the dentist office, the gas wears off and the cigarette girl wakes up but where’s the dentist? Well, this being a crime drama, dead, of course! Drink if you saw that coming.
After the commercial, Ralph and Jack are investigating the dead dentist and we find out the dentist was a bad gambler. His wife was divorcing him because of his jones. The dentist was broke and the wife isn’t interested in the life insurance money because it will only go to pay his debts. Oh, and he was a bad speller to boot. But actor Donal Logue's sister, who we haven't seen since Shawn Ryan's terrific show, Terriers, is very good as the widow.
Savino goes to visit the mayor and interrupts a meeting he is having with the DA and Katherine. Savino is unhappy about the crackdown on the count room. Words like “my kind” are bandied about. Savino threatens the mayor and Katherine reminds him that it’s a felony to do that. Savino tells Mayor Bennett, ‘when you look back to see where it all went wrong, it’s right here, right now”.
Savino then leaves and goes on a rant about how the mayor has to be replaced. This isn’t likely to happen because the actor playing the mayor is a well-known character actor and the tv audience remembers him from his days as a sympathetic Secret Service agent on The West Wing (and your reviewer remembers him also from his sympathetic sheriff on HBO’s Carnivale) so he isn’t going anywhere. At least for now. The producers may kill him off down the road to pit Savino against Ralph but that doesn’t seem too likely at this point in the story. Drink if you think the story might go there.
There’s a televised mayoral debate in two days and Savino wants to find someone who is sympathetic to his cause to run against Mayor Bennett. This is a good time to take a long drink because televised debates in 1960 were still in their infancy and while the presidential debate between Kennedy and Nixon was great theater, mayoral elections didn’t rely on television in Las Vegas. The town was small back then (remember, the mayor only governs everything north of Sahara Avenue – basically downtown, the neighborhoods of Twin Lakes, Hyde Park, Charleston Heights, the Westside and east of downtown, so pressing the flesh is way more important than a television debate).
And this brings up the question of just where is The Savoy located. By all indications in this show, it is located downtown on Fremont Street. But, many of the landmarks around it like the Sahara Sign, the original Stardust sign, would have viewers think it is on the Strip. It can’t be on the Strip if Savino is all up in arms about the Mayor because the Mayor has no power on the Strip because that is the County.)
If you knew that, take another drink before we continue. If you know the Mayor has no control over the Gaming Commission (that would be the governor), take another drink.
Someone is being worked over by being dunked in the toilet to find out what he knows about the fake chips. He’s clueless. Nice looking toilet though.
The dentist’s bookie goes to see Ralph and explain why he didn’t kill the dentist. Seems the dentist paid off his debt of $37,400 last week. The bookie is called Jimmy the Polack. Jack comes into the conversations with some info. Seems the dentist was paying $165 to a property rental company for a property not his office. Ralph thinks the dentist may have had a chippy on the side.
Savino is talking up a potential mayoral candidate. Mr. Brady who really likes the Savoy. Brady doesn’t gamble, he runs a dry cleaning business out on East Bonanza and Charleston.
Take a long drink if you know those two streets are east/west thoroughfares and don’t cross. Grrrr.
Savino wants to help Brady win the election. He says that Mayor Bennett is crooked. Savino points out that the population is now close to 75,000 (off by about 25,000 in 1960) and that people have come from all over the country to live in Vegas but that Bennett doesn’t respect that and wants to run the newcomers out of town. Which makes no sense because we have never seen Bennett act this way. Most mayors like to see their city grow and Bennett is no exception.
Savino seems to understand the power of television and how it can turn the election around for Brady. “Bennett is the past, we’re the future” and Brady knows that he needs Savino as much as Savino needs him.
Mrs. Savino doesn’t trust Vincent around all the good looking women and thinks he’s playing around. Vincent finally copes to the mayor problem and enlists the misuss' help in getting Brady ready for the debate, “you just have to find it or buy it”.
We find out that Mrs. Savino’s father is a county commissioner back in Chicago. Mrs. Savino offers to chat up the women voters who didn’t vote for Bennett the last time.
Ralph and Jack visit the dentist’s other property. This is a very disjointed episode in that the crime of the week seems to have no relation to the other story line until Ralph and Jack discover that the dentist was the one making the fake chips. Take a drink if you saw that coming.
Back from commercial, we find Dixon checking out the fake chips. Ralph thinks Savino knew the dentist was passing fake chips and goes to talk to Vince taking Jack with him. They question Vince, who says he is doing his own investigation. The Lamb brothers tell him that the dentist was the faker and wonder if Savino ordered him killed. Savino denies that. Savino asks Ralph for help in a roundabout way. Savino gives Ralph a name, wait for it, and rolls on the poor guy who was getting the toilet dunk. Drink if you saw that coming.
The toilet dunker doesn’t know the dentist but down at the Monte Carlo there was talk of dentist cement being used in fake chips.
Over at the pre-debate gathering, the Mayor and Katherine notice that Brady is dressing much better than he was just a few days ago and has women gathered around him. The Savinos talk about how difficult it is going to be to get Brady ready to take on Bennett.
Ralph and Dixon investigate a lead and find, wait for it, a lead. Drink.
They find a dead body. Drink. The dental cement is missing. Drink.
Ralph hasn’t smiled in at least a half hour. Drink.
Jack offers to talk to Mia Rizzo. Drink. Yes, it’s a drinking game built around predictability.
A couple of suits hijack a truck filled with televisions. Drink. The suits have been tasked with dropping free tvs to women who don’t have them.
Katherine meets Mrs. Savino at the beauty parlor. They discuss JFK and how his good looks will help him win the campaign. One of the suits drops off one of the tvs “courtesy of Mr. Brady so you can watch him mop the floor with Mayor Bennett”. Hopefully, Katherine is wary.
Jack and Mia are going through the records. There is some actual chemistry between the two.
Ralph and Savino meet. Ralph tells him about the missing dental cement and that there is likely to be a run on fake chips. Jack finds the smoking gun in Mia’s records and how the dentist cashed in his winning chips. They go to find the cashier.
Savino decides to swap out the chips. A new delivery of chips arrives. Ralph stops Savino from swapping the chips. (Still with us?) They go running for the safe and discover the two guards tied up and no chips.
The guards give Ralph details about the delivery guy. Savino wants the guy dead. He and Ralph are working together. Jack brings the cashier to Ralph and they take her to the Sheriff’s Office. Savino tells Mia to round up anyone who knew the cashier.
The cashier plays dumb. Jack puts forth the evidence. Dixon enters and says the cashier knew the dentist and was a patient. Ralph sits down to talk to the cashier and talk her into staying alive by spilling the story. She does. Ralph doesn’t smile. “It’s safe, it’s easy, no one would get hurt”. But the cashier has a boyfriend, Jessie, who got greedy. He killed the dentist and saw the opportunity for a big score with the fake chips.
At the debate, Mrs. Savino is prepping Brady and using all of JFK’s secrets, make-up, et al so that Brady will look mayoral.
Mayor Bennett obviously didn’t learn anything from watching the Kennedy/Nixon debates and refuses to wear make-up. Katherine approaches Mrs. Savino and they agree to have lunch so that Mrs. Savino can bring Katherine up to speed on all of Brady’s good points that would make him a good mayor.
Meanwhile, Savino finds Jessie before Ralph does. Savino wants his money back and holding Jessie at gun point, they go outside and there is Ralph. There is a show down between Savino holding a gun on Jessie and Ralph holding a rifle on Savino.
Savino and Ralph have a conversation about the law and how there really is no difference between the two of them. Ralph doesn’t buy it and Savino backs off, only slugging Jessie and leaving with his money. Drink if you anticipated this outcome.
At the Savoy, Vince returns the money. They watch the debate and make comments about how sweaty the mayor looks. It’s all about the future, Brady says. The mayor is part of the past. Drink.
Up on the KLAS radio tower, the signal is cut while the Mayor is talking and so the audience only got to see Brady. Drink.
Mayor Bennett, Katherine and Ralph won’t likely take this sitting down. Vince may have won this round but the campaign and the fight has only just begun.
The show gets props for getting KLAS right but that’s about it. Still very superficial story-telling and superficial acting. I keep wishing this show will get meatier but I don’t think that’s going to happen any time soon. Drink if you agree.
See you next week! Based on the promo, bring more alcohol.