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HTF DVD REVIEW: VEGA$: The Second Season, Volume 1


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#1 of 16 ONLINE   Matt Hough

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Posted December 04 2010 - 01:48 PM

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VEGA$: The Second Season, Volume 1
Directed by Don Chaffey et al 

Studio: CBS/Paramount
Year: 1979-1980
Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1  Running Time: 542 minutes
Rating: NR
Audio: Dolby Digital 2.0 mono English
Subtitles: SDH


MSRP:  $ 39.99


Release Date: December 7, 2010

Review Date:  December 4, 2010



The Series

3/5


In the annuls of television history, there are hundreds and hundreds of shows that ran for a season or less and a few dozen handfuls of those which had long, healthy runs and some that even became uncontested classics. And then you have another large number of shows that ran three or four years, often to middling ratings and no awards recognition but which have remained favorites down through the years for a variety of reasons. VEGA$ seems to be one of those shows. It’s formulaic, it doesn’t showcase an especially great regular cast or feature scripts that rise above the mundane. But in its own unclassy way, it’s reasonably fun, and watching these episodes now that are going on thirty years old, there is definite nostalgia value in seeing the old Las Vegas with hotels that are no longer there advertising big name acts at the time who are lesser known now (David Brenner, Fred Travelena, The Village People, Foster Brooks, Mel Tillis), and a strip that is now much more expansive and more eye-catching than the gaudy fluorescent lights of the strip circa 1979-1980 as featured in this first volume of the show’s second season. The shows are also crammed with familiar guest stars of the period and feature a leading man who offered a certain slick charm, a sort of road company Tom Selleck in the form of Robert Urich.


Urich plays Dan Tanna, a wily private investigator operating in Las Vegas but on retainer to the Philip Roth chain of hotels headquartered at the Desert Inn. Roth is played by Tony Curtis in a recurring role (he's only in one of these eleven episodes), but it’s Urich’s Dan Tanna who’s front and center in each week’s story investigating homicides, kidnapping, runaway kids, rape, drug smuggling, and any number of situations requiring the help of a private eye. Assisting Dan is his sometimes bumbling assistant Binzer (Bart Braverman) and secretary Bea (Phyllis Davis) along with Las Vegas police lieutenant David Nelson (Greg Morris) who works closely with Dan on his investigations. It’s pretty much a one-man show, however, as Urich gets the girls and beats up the bad guys in fairly predictable fashion. VEGA$ is another slick action series from Aaron Spelling (though the show was created by Michael Mann), so there isn’t much difference between the crime stories in this and in some of Spelling’s other crime dramas of the period (Starsky and Hutch, T. J. Hooker, or Charlie’s Angels). Seen now, the plotting plods a bit, the mysteries aren’t very mysterious, and the characters are usually not well developed, but it isn’t pretending to be anything more than a pleasant time passer.


Even if the regular cast isn’t made up of award-winning actors (though Greg Morris had some wonderful years on Mission: Impossible and garnered a few Emmy nominations along the way), the guest cast couldn’t be more impressive. Among the famous Oscar and Emmy winning-faces glimpsed in the episodes included in this set are Andrew Duggen, Melanie Griffith, Denny Miller, Lola Falana, Jo Ann Pflug, Will Sampson, Robert Reed, Norman Alden, Sherry Jackson, Rosemary Forsythe, Scatman Carothers, Dean Martin, David Huddleston, Pat Hingle, Barbi Benton, Gary Crosby, Eve Arden, Lisa Hartman (who also sings some of “Old Time Rock ‘n Roll”), Peter Haskell, Michael V. Gazzo, Shelley Winters, Barry Sullivan, Christopher Stone, John Karlen, Wayne Newton, Eric Braeden, Gary Collins, and Heather Menzies (in real life, Mrs. Robert Urich).


Here are the eleven episodes which make up volume one of this second season set:


1 – Red Handed

2 – The Usurper

3 – Mixed Blessings

4 – Runaway

5 – Design for Death

6 – Shadow on a Star

7 – Dan Tanna Is Dead

8 – Macho Murders

9 – The Day the Gambling Stopped

10 – The Classic Connection

11 – Night of a Thousand Eyes



Video Quality

3/5


The programs are framed in their original television broadcast ratio of 1.33:1. The video quality seesaws constantly through each presentation. Interior scenes come off best with above average sharpness and good color (Tanna’s red Thunderbird sometimes blooms) with pleasing flesh tones. Exterior shooting brings forth erratic image quality with sometimes very soft focus and color that’s drab. Second unit camerawork and vintage Vegas footage is occasionally even worse in quality. There are the usual age related artifacts like dust specks and thin white scratches on occasion (not as much as one might think but they are present), and moiré and aliasing are both prone to pop up from time to time. Each episode has been divided into 7 chapters without the promo or 8 chapters with the promo.



Audio Quality

3/5


The Dolby Digital 2.0 mono soundtrack is decoded by Dolby Prologic into the center channel. The sound mix really shows its age, not so much through aged-related artifacts like hiss or crackle but through a lack of dynamism with highs shrill or clipped completely and almost no low end in the sound mix. Though dialogue is usually well recorded, there are episodes where it is muffled and not very distinct.



Special Features

1/5


There are episodic promos for every episode in the set that usually run about half-a-minute. The viewer may choose to watch the promos or skip them with each episode. There is also a menu choice which allows the viewer to watch all of the promos in succession.


There are promotional trailers for Hawaii Five-O, Matt Houston, and the CBS procedural dramas.



In Conclusion

3/5 (not an average)


VEGA$ brings to mind the simpler, slickly packaged private eye shows from three decades ago with undemanding plots and repetitive action scenes in this first volume of the show’s second season. Not great video or audio distinguishes the set, but fans will likely relish getting the chance to add to their collections with another volume.




Matt Hough

Charlotte, NC



#2 of 16 OFFLINE   younger1968

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Posted December 04 2010 - 03:17 PM

i like the cover! thanks for posting!!!



#3 of 16 OFFLINE   Adam Gregorich

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Posted December 04 2010 - 03:26 PM

Thanks for the review Matt!  I had forgot all about this show.  I need to check my cable guide and see if it is on somewhere so I can record it.



#4 of 16 OFFLINE   Mr. Pacino

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Posted December 05 2010 - 01:51 AM

Thank you Matt for your informative review.


The biggest question for me was whether they´ll release 11 episodes on Volume 1 or 12 episodes because Season 2 insists of 23 episodes.


Hopefully CBS/Paramount will also release the second part of Season 2 and maybe even the complete Season 3(the final one).


What I don´t understand is why does CBS/Paramount release some series in Volumes and some of their series not?


They released series such as: Matt Houston, Hawaii Five 0 or Mannix in full Seasons but others like "Vega$, Streets of San Francisco etc... in Volumes.


Why?


How do they decide whether they´ll release a series in full Seasons or Volumes?



#5 of 16 ONLINE   Matt Hough

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Posted December 05 2010 - 02:30 AM

I wish I could answer your questions as they're interesting and are things I've wondered about myself, but I have no clue. If anyone else does know the answers, I'd love to find out, too.



#6 of 16 OFFLINE   Mr. Pacino

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Posted December 06 2010 - 02:47 AM




Originally Posted by MattH. 

I wish I could answer your questions as they're interesting and are things I've wondered about myself, but I have no clue. If anyone else does know the answers, I'd love to find out, too.


Today I received Season 2- Volume 1.


I was very surprised that Season 2 -Volume 1 has English subtitles.


The whole Season 1 of "Vega$" didn´t have any subtitles at all.


Another strange thing........


Why do they all of the sudden offer subtitles?


But as you already said we have no clue why CBS/Paramount do that.....



#7 of 16 OFFLINE   HenryDuBrow

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Posted December 06 2010 - 09:01 PM

The decision for or against using subtitles by the major studios is sometimes very strange it seems to me, I don't know why they abandon the use of them and then return to them again, if the reasons are financial or whatever. If it's about economics, why are they back right now. For instance few of the Hawaii Five-Os feature them but the upcoming/future series releases might, they do feature other languages so why English is not one is a mystery. Both Paramount and Warner seem to go back and forth in periods, right now they feature them and it's good that they have this service of course, I just wish it'd be one of those 'extras' always available or required at least from the big players whereas smaller companies might prefer to save on costs there. I'm not affected myself so I'm not sure how many deaf/hoh people there are in the US, but good money's being lost on potentiel buyers here undoubtedly by no inclusion.


#8 of 16 OFFLINE   Corey3rd

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Posted December 07 2010 - 05:14 AM

all of the older CBS DVDs that came out this month have subtitles. Maybe somebody came up with a cheaper technique to turn Closed Captions into subtitles?


This season of Vegas is great just for having Scatman Crothers, Dean Martin and Mr. Brady's Dadfro in the same episode.


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#9 of 16 OFFLINE   Mr. Pacino

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Posted December 07 2010 - 05:24 AM



Originally Posted by Corey3rd 

all of the older CBS DVDs that came out this month have subtitles. Maybe somebody came up with a cheaper technique to turn Closed Captions into subtitles?


This season of Vegas is great just for having Scatman Crothers, Dean Martin and Mr. Brady's Dadfro in the same episode.



Hopefully, they´ll release the second part of Season 2 as well because there´s a two-part special episode in which Dan Tanna travels to San Francisco to solve the murder at a police officer.


I just know that the bad guy in this 90 minute episode is the villain of "Dirty Harry"(I don´t know his name).




#10 of 16 OFFLINE   HenryDuBrow

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Posted December 07 2010 - 08:24 AM

That'd be Andrew Robinson then, I think.



#11 of 16 OFFLINE   Kasey

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Posted December 08 2010 - 03:13 AM

Is this the "Ladies in Blue" episode starring Tanya Roberts and Michelle Phillips? I used to watch Vega$ every week but for some reason I missed that one and have still never seen it to this day. I sure hope CBS releases S2 V2 so I finally get to see it.



#12 of 16 OFFLINE   Mr. Pacino

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Posted December 08 2010 - 05:05 AM




Originally Posted by HenryDuBrow 

That'd be Andrew Robinson then, I think.



 Yes....-exactly.



#13 of 16 OFFLINE   Mr. Pacino

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Posted December 08 2010 - 05:07 AM




Originally Posted by Kasey 

Is this the "Ladies in Blue" episode starring Tanya Roberts and Michelle Phillips? I used to watch Vega$ every week but for some reason I missed that one and have still never seen it to this day. I sure hope CBS releases S2 V2 so I finally get to see it.


Yes, this is the episode. This particular episode is great!

It´s probably the best episode of Season 2.



#14 of 16 OFFLINE   younger1968

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Posted December 10 2010 - 12:51 AM

i have watched a few episodes and the show holds up very well considering it is over 30 years old. I watch an episode with Robert Reed as Tony Curtis's brother and it was very well done.


I am looking forward to S2, V2, especially seeing how hot Tanya Roberts was in the 1980s. I hope this means we could see the last Charlie's Angel set. I have S1-S3 on dvd, but held off on S4, because i am not a big fan of Shelly Hack. I like my brunnettes, especially Jacklyn Smith and Kate Jackson!! I also like Tanya Roberts in the 1980s as well and remember seeing her playboy spread as well when i was a teenager.



#15 of 16 OFFLINE   Jeff Willis

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Posted December 10 2010 - 01:39 AM



Originally Posted by younger1968 
i have watched a few episodes and the show holds up very well considering it is over 30 years old. I watch an episode with Robert Reed as Tony Curtis's brother and it was very well done.


I am looking forward to S2, V2, especially seeing how hot Tanya Roberts was in the 1980s. I hope this means we could see the last Charlie's Angel set. I have S1-S3 on dvd, but held off on S4, because i am not a big fan of Shelly Hack. I like my brunnettes, especially Jacklyn Smith and Kate Jackson!! I also like Tanya Roberts in the 1980s as well and remember seeing her playboy spread as well when i was a teenager.


Same here.  I've started watching my Vega$ shelf sets from S1 and it's also looking great to me.  I haven't seen these since they originally aired.  Tony Curtis and Greg Morris sure added a lot of style to this show.  Plus,  I've always liked Robert Urich in his performances.


DItto for Charlie's Angels.  I passed on S4 for the same reason.  I hope we see S5 released, also a Tanya R fan. "Sheena" was showing recently on the Sony movie channel if I recall.  I rewatched that one, first time there for many years, intact without commercials.  Fun.



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#16 of 16 OFFLINE   Corey3rd

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Posted December 10 2010 - 05:13 AM

Vega$ works cause it really was shot around the city and wasn't faked in backlots and redressed sets from Charlie's Angels.


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