LAS VEGAS Season 5 DVD Review

     August 3, 2008

Reviewed by Tulsi Desai

Despite declining ratings (the Friday night slot sure didn’t help) and a main cast that seemed to be in a permanent state of transition, “Las Vegas” deserves respect for its fun, if at times uneven, fifth and final season. Though fans may be indignant at NBC’s sudden decision to cancel the show after it finally began to find its momentum post Lara Flynn Boyle, “Las Vegas” certainly finds new mystery, drama and thrills with newcomer Tom Selleck and a return to its old charm.

Following the abrupt departure of Ed Deline (James Caan) and Mary Connell(Nikki Cox), the Montecito casino and hotel finds itself under the new ownership of former marine and rancher, A.J. Cooper (Tom Selleck) and a feisty, new concierge, Piper Nielson(). While the former remains elusive and disjointed from the rest of the cast, the latter immediately establishes her presence and relationship with the others. No doubt, writers were counting on a sixth season to resolve the inscrutability of Cooper’s character. Meanwhile, Montecito vets Danny McCoy (Josh Duhamel) and Mike Cannon (James Lesure) continue to climb the ladder; Danny replaces Ed as President of Operations and Mike advances to head of security. The chemistry between Duhamel and Lesure is as good as ever and the witty banter between the duo is often the highlight of many scenes.

Molly Sims’ role as Delinda Deline goes from over-the-top ridiculous to just plain annoying as a not-so-subtle neurotic pregnant lady. Some of the better episodes are marred by Delinda’s implausible schemes, like unionizing Las Vegas strippers and overhauling the casino to protect the environment. Not surprisingly, the relationship between Delinda and Danny progressively morphs into a stereotypical TV dad-mom interaction. Some things however, don’t change. Sam Marquez (Vanessa Marcil) remains faithful as the wily and independent hostess as she ruthlessly chases her “whales.” An episode where she uses a dating service for millionaires to score some wealthy clientele is particularly memorable.

Most notable in this attempt to revert back to earlier seasons- rather than focus on a single plot line, the writers want to pack as many punches as they can in almost every episode. Beginning with a twist in the premier that results in the simultaneous expulsion of two major leads, subplots continue to unravel throughout the season at a whirlwind pace. However, the writing and development is not as long-winded or convoluted as expected. On the contrary, given the unstable history of the Montecito, the abundance of surprises nicely compliments the transient nature of Vegas.

Whether the fifth season is one of the best that “Las Vegas” has put out is no doubt controversial, but there is also no denying that it finally found a fresh voice. It’s unfortunate that just when the writers were beginning to regroup and do what they do best- flow seamlessly between humor, action and drama, NBC lost hope in what used to be one of its most popular shows. Even more frustrating, the series never got a chance to tie up its many loose ends and, instead, leaves fans with one helluva cliff hanger.

Special Features:

The four-disc box set of “Las Vegas” Season 5 includes self-proclaimed “High-Rolling Bonus Features” comprising a gag reel that warrants a few laughs and requires some further editing, a “VFX Featurette” that covers the show’s special effects and “ Webcasts” of cast and crew interviews. Unfortunately, like many TV shows out on DVD, cast and crew insights are poor and disappointing for a program finishing its five year run. There is also a “hot stuff” footage reel that I’m still trying to figure out the point of. Overall, the extras are not justifiable in a series finale DVD and fans of the show would be better off just watching the show in syndication.

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