Looking Back At VEGAS, A Forgotten Gem - Warped Factor - Words in the Key of Geek.

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Looking Back At VEGAS, A Forgotten Gem

Lots of TV shows and movies have been set in Las Vegas over the years, making tours of the city extremely popular among those who are visiting the area for the first time.

But one forgotten gem that deserves to get a lot more attention is Vegas - often stylised as Vega$ - which ran on the ABC network from 1978 to 1981.

Gambling has changed considerably in the USA since the days of Dan Tanna, the lead character. Here is why Vegas deserves to be considered as one of the top TV series of all time.

A showcase for Michael Mann
Today, Michael Mann is considered to be one of the most important film-makers in history. Mann has been recognised by publications such as Total Film, Entertainment Weekly, and Sight and Sound for his brilliant movies like Heat, Collateral and Public Enemies.

But one of the big breaks earlier in Mann's career was his work on the Vegas TV show. While Mann had already directed three feature films - Insurrection, Jaunpuri and 17 Days Down the Line - these had not created much of a splash.

Mann had also worked in television but Vegas was the first show he created himself. Lots of great directors have got their chance in this manner, with Mann grabbing the opportunity. Vegas displayed a lot of the things people love about Mann's films today, though he was naturally restricted by the lower budget that was in place during his work on the TV series.

It is fair to say that without Vegas Hollywood might be different today as Mann has become such an important influence on film-makers over the course of his career.

While Mann is best known as a director of feature films, he was also heavily involved in brilliant series such as Miami Vice and Crime Story, though Vegas certainly remains our favourite.
Top tech on show
Vegas was known for using game-changing technology, though as the series is 30 years old it can look very dated when viewed in the 21st century.

Lead character Dan Tanna - who was played by Robert Urich - used gadgets such as a carphone and a fancy answering machine. The design of his house, which is in actual fact a large props warehouse, is also spectacular, created so that he is able to park his iconic red 1957 Ford Thunderbird convertible in his own living room.

Of course, technology has moved on a lot in the decades that have passed since Vegas was on the air, but it is still great to be able to look back at what was once considered state-of-the-art.

Based on a real detective
The character that Urich plays in Vegas is based on a real man - Eddie La Rue, who worked as a private detective with his own agency until his death.

The name Dan Tanna came from a real restaurant on Santa Monica Boulevard in West Hollywood, California.

Urich put on a huge amount of muscle in order to portray the role of Tanna, reportedly taking his weight up from 180 pounds all the way up to 220 before filming on Vegas began.

The fact Vegas is rooted in reality can be seen throughout, with Sin City itself used as the location. Almost all of the nearly 70 episodes of Vegas that were made were filmed in Vegas itself, with only a couple of exceptions when the series headed to other American cities.
Part of American TV history
Even the biggest TV fans might not be familiar with the name of Aaron Spelling.

However, he is one of the most important producers in US TV history and was the man behind the creation of Vegas, along with Mann.

Spelling was also behind shows such as Charlie's Angels - which had a brief crossover moment with Vegas in its third series - as well as Melrose Place and 7th Heaven.

Perhaps it is Charmed that Spelling is best known for, with the show having been one of the most popular American series for almost a decade.

He also helped to make the 2000 Hollywood revival of Charlie's Angels, on which he was created as an executive producer.

Spelling died in June 2006 at the age of 83 but he will go down in history as one of the greatest US television producers of all time.

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