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Familiar faces back on new dramas

Terrorists, God and Las Vegas take starring roles
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Some familiar faces are at work on the fall season’s new dramas. David E. Kelley’s back. So is Aaron Spelling. So too are a passel of movie actors who seem to no longer see small-screen work as slumming. (See “It’s the screens that got small” for more.)

The season’s new dramas also feature God, terrorists, Tarzan, and the city of Las Vegas as itself.


The Big Place! It’s the kind of oversize canvas prime-time television loves, any physical space where nonstop action on a larger-than-life scale happens routinely, the better to pit a small group of specialists against the world. After fielding successful series based in a modern hospital (“ER”) and the White House (“The West Wing”), NBC’s finally setting a show in a real house of chance, rather than a figurative one. The result: “Las Vegas,” (NBC, Mondays, 9 p.m. ET) perhaps the network’s most heavily hyped show of the fall season.

There’s much to like, or at least be curious about: James Caan, an actor whose tough-guy résumé stretches back 30 years — remember Sonny Corleone? — stars as Big Ed Deline, cantankerous head of security for a Vegas casino. His foil: Danny McCoy, the boyish ex-Marine security specialist who works at the casino — and just happens to bed Big Ed’s daughter. As Danny, Josh Duhamel (Leo du Pres on “All My Children”) brings a lazy, good-natured charm to this ladies-man role. Eddie welcomes Danny to “the family” — a curious phrase given the Mafia’s historical ties to Sin City — and we’re set to watch this pilgrim make progress in a den of irresistible iniquity (much of which Danny, a longtime resident of Lost Wages, is already familiar with).

With swooping shots of the city’s skyline, and a frenetic, miles-per-minute camera style cribbed from “The Fast and the Furious” and “Moulin Rouge,” among other works, “Las Vegas” has the look and feel of Sin City. What remains to be seen is how well the storyline supports the visual pyrotechnics — and how these and other characters develop as people we’d care enough about to watch every week. Then we’ll know whether to hold ‘em, or fold ‘em. —Michael E. Ross