A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this TV show.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that Vegas depicts the violence of 1960s Las Vegas in a mostly realistic way, including fistfights, gun fights, and murders. There's minimal blood, although dead bodies do pop up regularly, and some cases involve sexual crimes like rape. Viewers will also catch some mild sexual innuendo between characters, along with kissing and skimpy costumes -- but nothing too graphic or revealing. Language is surprisingly mild and mostly involves words like "damn." There's social drinking, and some characters smoke cigarettes (which is accurate for the '60s setting).
What's the story?
When the mayor of Las Vegas (Michael O'Neill) needs a sheriff to solve a high-profile murder and rein in the city's burgeoning sins, he turns to local rancher Ralph Lamb (Dennis Quaid), a former soldier under his command in World War II who was known for sniffing out wrongs and making them right. But Lamb, his deputies (Jason O'Mara and Taylor Handley), and the dutiful assistant D.A. (Carrie-Ann Moss) are up against a highly organized crime syndicate headed by Chicago gangster Vincent Savino (Michael Chiklis), who's not willing to let the law dictate his business.
Is it any good?
VEGAS makes a point to remind you that it's based on the life of Ralph Lamb, the real-deal rancher turned "cowboy sheriff" who helped control corruption in the early years of Sin City's gambling mega-culture. And it's a good thing the show makes that distinction. Otherwise, you might wonder what the writers were thinking when they dreamed up a Marlboro Man on horseback riding, shotgun cocked, through the Las Vegas Strip -- and rubbing elbows with notorious gangsters.
So, OK, it's a little high concept. But other shows have survived on harder-to-swallow premises that weren't even rooted in real life. The trouble with Vegas, however, is that the dialogue does the cast a disservice, making them difficult to buy as three-dimensional characters and, frankly, wasting the talents of Quaid, Chiklis, and Moss. On the surface, it's an easily digestible cop drama that's built around gangsters and cowboys. But once you get past the promising mashup, you won't find much to keep you coming back.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about the mystique surrounding Las Vegas and the things that are most often associated with it. Why has Vegas become symbolic with iffy activities like gambling, partying, and prostitution? What are the dangers and real-life consequences that come along with them?
Do movies, TV shows, and other types of media tend to glamorize Sin City and all that it offers? What point of view does Vegas take?
Although Vegas is based on real people and actual events, how realistic do the plot and dialogue feel? What about the level of violence? Are there elements that might have been altered and amplified for dramatic effect?