VEGA$: The Third Season, Volume 1
Directed by Ray Austin et al
Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1 Running Time: 587 minutes
Audio: Dolby Digital 2.0 mono English
Release Date: May 8, 2012
Review Date: May 2, 2012
Robert Urich is back again playing 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 really only in one of these twelve episodes though his likeness is used in the season premiere), but it’s Urich’s Dan Tanna who’s front and center in each week’s story investigating homicides, kidnappings, abandoned kids, coercion, drug and jewel 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 who also gets an episode where she gets to do some investigating) 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.
The season premiere is a two-parter with Dan being kidnapped and flown to Hawaii where the remainder of the adventure occurs, a rather nonsensical murder-for-hire scenario with Dan being forced to assassinate best friend Philip Roth. Better, however, is a later episode where Dan suffers from a massive guilty conscience after shooting a cat burglar armed only with a B-B pistol. And star Robert Urich gets a tour de force performance episode where a nemesis manages to abduct him and gets him strung out on heroin. The ending is weak, but it’s Urich’s best acting job of these episodes. Tanna falls in love twice during the first half of the season, neither time with particularly gratifying results. There isn’t much mystery to the stories, either; when the writers try to concoct a surprise reveal (such as in “Black Cat Killer”), the viewer is usually way ahead of the “shocking” revelation. The show also tries two lighter episodes included in this batch (“Deadly Blessing” and “Sourdough Suite”), but the humor in each is rather forced.
To say that the show is formulaic is putting it mildly: it doesn’t showcase an especially great regular cast or feature scripts that often rise above the mundane. But in its own unclassy way, it’s reasonably fun, and watching these episodes now that are more than 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, Foster Brooks, Pat Cooper, Mel Tillis), and a strip that is now much more expansive and more eye-catching than the gaudy fluorescent lights of the area circa 1980-1981 as featured in this first volume of the show’s third season. The shows are also crammed with familiar guest stars of the period, among them Lorne Greene, Pernell Roberts, Barbara Parkins, John Saxon, Harold Stone, Victor Buono (in two appearances), Gary Lockwood, Vito Scotti (two appearances), Jill St. John, Priscilla Barnes, Ruta Lee, Dick Sargent, Eleanor Parker, Bubba Smith, John Vernon, Barney Phillips, Joe Penny, Don Stroud, Hermione Baddeley, June Lockhart, Noah Berry, Edie Adams, Patrick Macnee, Julie Adams, and Clive Revill.
Here are the episodes contained on three discs in this first volume of season three:
1 – Aloha, You’re Dead (Parts 1 & 2)
2 – Black Cat Killer
3 – Sudden Death
4 – Love Affair
5 – A Deadly Victim
6 – Deadly Blessing
7 – Christmas Story
8 – Andreas Addiction
9 – Sourdough Suite
10 – Murder by Mirrors
The episodes are presented in their original 1.33:1 broadcast aspect ratio. Overall, they look very, very good. Sharpness is usually first-rate (an occasional soft shot here and there), and color is rich looking with accurate and appealing flesh tones. Though the transfers don’t have a great deal of trouble with checked and plaid patterns on shirts and jackets, there is an occasional bit of moiré to be seen. There are some scratches scattered sporadically and some dust specks, too, but they’re never disturbing problems. Each episode has been divided into 7 chapters without the promo or 8 chapters with the promo. (The two-part season premiere has 11 chapters.)
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 a little shrill or clipped completely and almost no low end in the sound mix. The dialogue throughout is quite well recorded and is never overpowered by the music or sound effects in the mix.
There are episodic promos for every episode in the set, and each usually runs 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 is a promo trailer for the original Hawaii Five-O.
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 third and last season. The video is better than in previous releases of this series, and audio is on par with the others, but fans will likely be happy to get the chance to come close to completing their collections with only one other volume yet to come.