Favorite Vegas TV Shows

Las Vegas is known as the “Entertainment Capital of the World,” so it makes perfect sense that lots of great TV shows are intimately tied to the city.

In fact, this fall a new CBS drama – simply titled “Vegas” – will hit the airwaves on Tuesday nights at 10 p.m.  The series is inspired by the life and times of one of the city’s most beloved lawmen:  Sheriff Ralph Lamb. A storied figure often called “the cowboy sheriff,” he was known for taking on mobsters and just about anyone else who crossed the line.

The cast of the new TV show "Vegas"

The cast of the new fall TV show "Vegas" includes Michael Chiklis, Kai Lennox, James Russo, Dennis Quaid and Jason O'Mara.

Actor Dennis Quaid, a Hollywood mainstay, has been tapped to play Lamb at a time when he’d become the newly appointed sheriff of Las Vegas. A fourth-generation rancher, Lamb was called upon to bring order to the city in the 1960s, when it was on the rise as a gambling mecca.

Michael Chiklis, who is well-regarded for his role as the complicated police detective Vic Mackey on the FX television series “The Shield” and beloved as The Thing in the 2007 film “Fantastic 4: Rise of the Silver Surfer,” takes on the part of mob boss Vincent Savano. A ruthless Chicago gangster, he wants to be the one who runs things in Las Vegas.

The pilot immediately sets these two up for their first clash, in what will be an unfolding battle for control, when Lamb is asked to look into the murder of a casino worker. The supporting cast of “Vegas” includes Lamb’s two deputies – his diplomatic brother Jack and his impulsive son Dixon, who are played by Jason O’Mara and Taylor Handley, respectively. Carrie-Anne Moss from the sci-fi film “The Matrix” has the role of an ambitious assistant district attorney.

This true-story drama is not the only series inextricably linked to Las Vegas. Over the years, there have also been fictional dramas, reality programs and comedies. Although not all of them were filmed in Las Vegas, here are seven TV shows we love (listed chronologically by debut date). They have made us laugh and cry as well as root for everyone from forensic pathologists to pawn shop owners.

Blansky’s Beauties
Year it ran: 1977 on ABC.
Who was in it: Nancy Walker, Caren Kaye, Eddie Mekka, Scott Baio and Pat Morita.
Premise: Showbiz veteran Nancy Blansky is a mother figure to and stages numbers for a bevy of showgirls at the Oasis Hotel in the 1970s.
Why we love it: Blansky, the show’s main character, was actually introduced on a “Happy Days” episode as Howard Cunningham’s visiting cousin from Las Vegas.
Available on DVD? No.

Robert Urich as Dan Tanna on "Vega$"

Robert Urich as Dan Tanna on "Vega$" with his beloved 1957 Thunderbird.

Years it ran:
1978 to 1981 on ABC.
Who was in it:
Robert Urich, Phyllis Davis, Bart Barverman, Tony Curtis, Naomi Stevens, Judy Landers and Greg Morris.
Dan Tanna, a handsome private eye, is on retainer and solves cases for the wealthy casino owner of the now long-gone Desert Inn. 
Why we love it:
It’s always fun seeing Dan Tanna cruise the Strip in his vintage Thunderbird.
Available on DVD?

CSI: Crime Scene Investigation
Years it ran:
2000 to present day on CBS.
Who was in it:
William Peterson, Marg Helgenberger, Jorja Fox, Gary Dourdan, George Eads, Laurence Fishburne, Ted Danson, Elizabeth Shue and many others.
This crime drama features a team of investigators working at the Las Vegas Police Department Crime Scene Investigations bureau. They use cutting-edge forensic tools to examine evidence and solve cases.
Why we love it:
This exchange from an episode filmed early on in the series is unforgettable! Nick Stokes: “There’s a sucker born every minute.” Gil Grissom: “Yeah. And they all come to Vegas.”
Available on DVD?

The cast of  "CSI" Crime Scene Investigation"

The cast of "CSI" in season 12 featured Elisabeth Shue, Ted Danson, George Eads and Jorja Fox.

The Real World: Las Vegas”
Years it ran: 2002 to 2003 and 2011 on MTV.
Who was in it: Two groups of seven young strangers.
These diverse people had to live and work together for several months – and in Vegas that meant cohabiting in tricked-out custom-built suites. The first filming (season 12) took place at the Palms, and the second (season 25) occurred at the Hard Rock Hotel & Casino.
Why we love it: Who doesn’t love outrageous drunken behavior and sexy scenes in hot tubs?
Available on DVD? Yes.

Father of the Pride
Years it ran:
2004 to 2005 on NBC.
Who was in it: Voiced by John Goodman, Danielle Harris, Cheryl Hines, Carl Reiner, Orlando Jones and Julian Holloway.
Premise: This CGI-animated show follows the trials and tribulations of a couple of white lions who perform with the city’s most legendary illusionists, Siegfried & Roy, at The Mirage.
Why we love it: Many of the supporting characters – including a giant panda voiced by Lisa Kudrow, an activist lobster voiced by Danny DeVito and a wise-cracking coyote voiced by David Spade…to name just a few – are hilarious. One episode even features a visit from Donkey, the co-star of “Shrek,” voiced by Eddie Murphy.
Available on DVD? Yes.

The stars of "Pawn Stars"

"Pawn Stars" is a family affair with Corey Harrison, Austin Russell, Rick Harrison and "the Old Man."

Pawn Stars”
Years it ran: 2009 to present day on the History Channel.
Who was in it: The Harrisons (Rick, Richard “the Old Man” and Corey “Big Hoss”) and Austin “Chumlee” Russell.
Premise: This is a behind-the-scenes look into the colorful world of a pawn business at the downtown Gold & Silver Pawn Shop, which is owned and operated by three generations of the Harrison family.
Why we love it: Everything brought into the store, as the family says, “has a story and a price.” Plus, watching Chumlee (who seems like a super-sized clown) break things is always good for a laugh.
Available on DVD? Yes.

The Defenders
Years it ran:
2010 to 2011 on CBS.
Who was in it: Jerry O’Connell and James Belushi.
Premise: A legal drama based on two flashy attorneys who often disregard the law or use wacky courtroom stunts when representing their clients.
Why we love it: While the two lead characters roam around Las Vegas, there are wonderful shots of both the dry desert landscape as well as the glitzy and glamorous Strip at night.
Available on DVD? Yes.


I’m a Las Vegas native. By profession, I write at Vegas.com. Mostly about the city’s hotels, but on other topics – gaming and transportation – too. I really love staying at hotels. And the ones here are among the biggest and best in the world. Some key things I’ve learned: Resort fees are inescapable (frustrating but true), a friendly attitude at the front desk may score you a great view and over-the-top room amenities – bath butlers, Japanese tea service, menus with “intimate” items – do exist. What else should you know about me? Well, I’m comfortable at a blackjack table. And I like eating late-night pancakes in hotel coffee shops. A lot. Follow Renee on Google+.