Las Vegas made its most significant changes in the third season. The full time addition of Lara Flynn Boyle as the new rich owner of the Montecito made the show somewhat lighter overall. It was probably a good idea to shake things up a bit. The cast chemistry on this show is quite good but was perhaps settling in a bit too much after two years. Boyle’s Monica was a perfect foil for James Caan’s Ed. Caan was able to stretch his acting muscles a lot more in this season. The overall idea hasn’t really changed: The Montecito Hotel and Casino is the setting for action and play. Former CIA operative Ed Deline (Caan) and his CIA buddy Danny McCoy (Duhamel) run one of the world’s most sophisticated surveillance systems. With the help of a very young and attractive staff, the crew encounters everything from cheaters to mob hit men.
Once again the package promises Uncut and Uncensored. All that really means is literally a few seconds tacked on to an episode here and there. Those few seconds are more often than not a little quick nudity shot that adds absolutely nothing to the stories. It’s a shame, really, that Las Vegas seems to need such a sexy element. The ensemble cast makes this a quality show without the extra trappings. This season features some new classic moments. Monica’s exit is, unfortunately, a jump the shark moment for Las Vegas. The season begins a bit slowly as Ed tries to assemble the old crew. Once the band is back together, everything starts firing on all cylinders once again. Another Crossing Jordan crossover episode includes Jill Hennessey and Jerry O’Connell. A very nice change-up is the “Everything is New” episode. All the characters fantasize about what it was like working Vegas during the 60’s. The entire episode takes on a Raymond Chandler look and feel as the actors step into the shoes of their counterparts working a hotel that once stood where the Montecito now towers over the Vegas skyline. This was a brilliant change of pace. If you like the show, the third season will give you a lot more of what you come to the Montecito for. This is not a good season to begin with, however. The storylines have a bit more of an overall arc to them, unlike the two previous years.
Each episode of Las Vegas is presented in a nice 1.78:1 aspect ratio, perfectly matted for your 16×9 monitor. Colors are vibrant and as flashy as you would expect from a Vegas setting. The show’s trademark “zoom through space” camera effects look just great. Desert scenes display a bit more grain and washed out color that is not really out of place in the bright Vegas sunlight. Contrast is sharp, as are blacks. You won’t find any significant digital artifact or edge enhancement problems here.
Each episode contains an impressive Dolby Digital 5.1 track. I found this mix to be quite aggressive for a television series. Surrounds are used to wonderful effect and place you perfectly in the action. Dialogue is always well centered. Even the subs often provide a startling level of activity. This is one of the best TV audio tracks I’ve heard to date.
The third season of Las Vegas is spread out over 5 discs. It looks like Universal is making a move toward the more durable single-sided discs. This is a trend I applaud. Hopefully the rest of the studios who release television seasons will get the message. I was disappointed there were no commentaries this time around, and overall less extras.
- “Gag Reel” Seven minutes of your typical flubs and jokes with some nudity thrown in.
- “In With The New” A 2-minute time-lapse look at the construction of the new sets..
I’ve never been to Vegas, and I expect the truth is likely stranger than the fiction. I think this series might have jaded me some, and the real thing couldn’t compete. It is true that the series has been good for business, and with CSI also set there, Vegas has never been more prominent since the days of the Rat Pack. There are a lot of changes to the show this year, and after Danny’s moody return from Iraq the previous season, I am glad everybody decided to lighten up. Check out the new Montecito version 2.0. “The new Montecito is sweet.”
Special Features List
- “In With the New”
- Gag reel