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TV Series Review

Television has become obsessed with gambling and its bright-light environs. The Travel Channel presents the World Poker Tour. Bravo boasts weekly installments of Celebrity Poker Showdown. CSI is based in Las Vegas. Fear Factor airs special episodes shot on The Strip. And Las Vegas is a dramatic hit.

The cumulative effect of this overload, compounded by gambling’s online assault, is a younger generation beginning to believe Five Card Stud and Texas Hold’em are the equals of Gin Rummy and Crazy Eights. That may be why nearly a third of 6,753 eighth-graders surveyed by the Delaware Council on Gambling Problems had wagered in 2002, and why the International Center for Youth Gambling Problems says up to 8 percent of young gamblers struggle with compulsive betting.

Beyond its ability to give gambling a renewed “cool” factor, what’s a trip to Las Vegas likely to entail? Sex, booze, profanity and bloody violence. The pacing of this situation drama is beyond frenetic. Dizzying camera tricks and chaotic story lines create a sense of what it’s like to stand in the lobby of Caesars Palace five minutes after Celine Dion’s show lets out, but it’s so congested one could watch this series for weeks without realizing who the main characters are. They are, incidentally, hotel surveillance head Big Ed Deline (James Caan), his protégé Danny McCoy (All My Children’s Josh Duhamel), and a staff of mandatorily sexy events coordinators, pit bosses and VIP schmoozers.

Nearly every woman deemed worthy of camera time wears low-cut tops and super-short skirts. Playboy Danny started out the series bedding his boss’s daughter. He didn’t stop there. Long-legged, big-chested Vegas bombshells give him what he wants at night and then disappear in the morning. Elsewhere, a couple has sex in the hotel restaurant, women kiss each other and male strippers grind against their clients at a bachelorette party. Viewers catch explicit sexual movements and blips of breast nudity. Violence includes brutal beatings and gunplay.

They don’t call it Sin City for nothing. And Las Vegas lives up to the reputation. I’d no sooner leave my child plopped down in front of this series than abandon her at the Palomino Club.

Episodes Reviewed: Nov. 10, 17, Dec. 1, 15, 2003; Jan. 5, 2004

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Steven Isaac

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