Vega$-The First Season-Volume 2 (1978)

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Released 27-Sep-2010

Cover Art

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Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category TV Series Episode Introductions-Approximately 30 sec promotion for each episode.
Production Notes-Slick reverse has approx 60 word plot outline for each ep.
Rating Rated M
Year Of Production 1978
Running Time 566:16 (Case: 589)
RSDL / Flipper No/No
Multi Disc Set (3)
Cast & Crew
Start Up Menu
Region Coding 4 Directed By Don Chaffey
Cliff Bole
Lawrence Dobkin
Lawrence Doheny
ABC America
Madman Entertainment
Starring Robert Urich
Tony Curtis
Phyllis Davis
Judy Landers
Bart Braverman
Case Amaray Variant
RPI $34.95 Music Dominic Frontiere
Shorty Rogers
John Beal

Video Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame Full Frame English Dolby Digital 2.0 mono (224Kb/s)
Widescreen Aspect Ratio None
16x9 Enhancement No
Video Format 576i (PAL)
Original Aspect Ratio 1.33:1 Miscellaneous
Jacket Pictures Yes
Subtitles None Smoking No
Annoying Product Placement No
Action In or After Credits No

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Plot Synopsis

     This review repeats much of the information contained in my very recent review of Volume 1 of the first season of VEGA$. VEGA$, The First Season, Volume 2 is even better than the first volume. From CBS DVD and released here by Madman, this immensely popular detective series from the late 1970s into the 80s should be a welcome addition to the catalogue of classic TV series slowly finding their way onto retailers’ shelves.

     VEGA$, created by Michael Mann (Miami Vice) and executive produced by the legendary Aaron Spelling (Charlie's Angels, The Love Boat), was initially aired by the American ABC network for three seasons, from 1978 to 1981. The series is a typical Spelling product, with beautiful people in beautiful settings wearing beautiful clothes, all involved in often ridiculous storylines. Robert Urich became a major TV star with the role of Dan Tanner, which he played to perfection in the sixty-nine episodes that ran through the three seasons. Urich, extremely handsome and "hip", was from the same mould as James Garner, and had a career that saw him starring or featured in numerous TV series, including1989's Lonesome Dove. Sadly Urich passed away in 2002 at age fifty-five, after a lengthy battle with a rare form of cancer. His widow is Heather Menzies, "Louisa" in the movie version of The Sound of Music, who speaks most lovingly of her husband in a recent "making of" documentary for that monumentally famous film musical.

     Robert Urich is every inch the star in this series. Tall, dark and handsome, private detective ex-Vietnam vet Dan Tanner drives a glamorous red Thunderbird along the gaudy Las Vegas strip, and he is dressed to perfection throughout. No actor before or since has made denim jeans look so good. That red car is housed in his converted warehouse living space, which is located next to the Circus Circus casino, but is actually the theatrical prop warehouse owned by the Desert Inn Hotel. Tanner also uses the most up-to-date gadgetry which would have looked like science fiction to Australian audiences when the series was first shown.

     The other major star of the series is Las Vegas itself. So many TV shows and movies have been set in Las Vegas, but rarely has the town looked so brilliantly gaudy. The lights themselves are iconic, but when so many of the names being emblazoned are the names of entertainment icons, another dimension is added. From the first episode alone I noted the names of Bernadette Peters, Liberace, Tony Bennett, Dean Martin, Wayne Newton, Tom Jones, Roy Clark and Franki Valli - all performing in the Las Vegas casinos. Those were the days indeed! Las Vegas is still the dazzlingly vulgar town it always has been, but there is still something magic about the old casinos. There is such history, albeit modern history, associated with the Desert Inn, for instance. Construction was originally commenced by Wilbur Clark who ran out of money and had "the mob" take over while he stayed on as front man. Then in 1967 the property was bought by Howard Hughes, by then a hermit tenant, who purchased the entire property because he did not want to be evicted from his penthouse. This grand old casino, featured so prominently in this series and in so many movies - Sinatra's Oceans 11 for one - turned fifty in 2000 and by 2004 had been famously demolished, its implosion played ad infinitum on TV. Sad.

     The owner of the Desert Inn, Phil "Slick" Roth, played by screen legend Tony Curtis (Spartacus), is Tanna's landlord. "Slick" is also the source of many of the cases presented to Tanna, who is retained by "Slick" to keep crime out of his hotels. The debonair Dan is assisted by his smart and sexy secretary (Phyllis Davis), a sexy but not too smart chorus girl (Judy Landers) and an enthusiastic but inept legman (Bart Braverman). This second volume of Season One once again consists of three discs, each containing four fully self-contained episodes of approximately forty-seven minutes.

Disc 1

Serve, Volley and Kill : Guests Randolph Mantooth, Christopher George and Lynda Day George.
Ghost of the Ripper : Guests John Larch and George Takei.
Eleventh Event : Guests Robert Loggia, Jill Haworthand Muhammad Ali.
Kill Dan Tanna! :
Guests Richard Lynch, Don Gordon and Kyle Richards.

Disc 2

Death Mountain : Guests Keye Luke, Ken Curtis and Joan Van Ark.
Best Friends : Guests John Rubinstein, Abbe Lane and Harold J. Stone.
Demand and Supply : GuestsCynthia Eibacher, William Smith and John Fiedler.
Everything I Touch : Guests Jo Ann Harris, Heather Menzies and Vivian Blaine.

Disc 3

Doubtful Target : Guests Elyssa Davalos, Louise Sorel and Ann Jeffreys.
Touch of Death : Stephen Elliott, Sondra West and John Randolph.
A Way to Live : Guests Marlyn Mason, Tom Urich and Wilfred Hyde-White.
The Visitor : Guests Kim Cattrall, Michael Ansara, Victor Campos and Eduard Franz.

     Standout episodes are Doubtful Target, which gives Braverman a chance to truly shine, and Death Mountain featuring Will Sampson (One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest). Throughout every episode Vega$ is a show that is as glossy and slick as the city itself, with a star who is the perfect fit for this smoothly satisfying entertainment. The dialogue is fast and witty, the clothes of the period are gaudy and eye popping and the performances are what you would expect from a top US series of the period. As well as the Vegas exteriors, there is extensive use of actual casino interiors, both the public rooms and the accommodation suites. These interiors are even more interesting and eye-catching than the clothes. Technically this is also top flight TV. The camerawork, editing and sound are all excellent. All in all it is great to see Vega$ again - and especially to see it in such consistently strong image quality. It is also most welcome to once again share some screen time with its suave and vital star, an actor who apparently was as nice a man in real life as he was a dynamic presence on screen.

     It is true that Vega$ is mindless and formulaic, but the show is always entertaining and vividly colourful, with its star as attractive and charismatic as ever.

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Transfer Quality


     The video transfer of this first season of Vega$ should bring joy to the fans of the series and its star.

     The episodes are presented at their original aspect ratio of 1.33:1. The series was filmed on 35mm stock, and the episodes in this volume are of amazingly good quality. Digital processing is not an issue, with no instances of aliasing noted through the entire twelve episodes.

     Generally the image is sharp, stable and vivid. The colour is superb, with every colour of the spectrum deeply rich and vivid where called for, as well as amazingly lifelike and subtle in the reproduction of skin tones. However, the visual highlights are the many glimpses of the bright lights of Las Vegas. Rarely have they looked more dazzling - or been more interesting. Frames were frequently frozen to read the details of the innumerable casino signs. The colour palette also highlights the extravagant colour schemes and tones of the fashions and Las Vegas interiors, public and private.

     There is modest, film quality grain, and detail is basically extremely good, with shadow detail quite impressive in the darker scenes depicting the bright nights of Las Vegas.

     Film artefacts are minimal, although there are more obvious scratches and traces of dirt than in this volume. Flecking is minor.

     There are no subtitles.

Video Ratings Summary
Shadow Detail
Film-To-Video Artefacts
Film Artefacts


     There is one audio stream on each disc, English Dolby Digital two channel mono encoded at 224 Kbps.

     The soundtrack is in extremely good condition, and quite satisfying given its strictly mono origins. Dialogue is perfectly clear with, with not a hint of any sync problem. No background hiss was noted at all, and there were no crackles, pops or drop-outs.

     The music may be a little shallow, but everything is clear and sharp, and generally sounds appropriately exciting. The original score is very evocative of the gambling city, and comes from Dominic Frontiere who won a Golden Globe for Best Original Score in 1980 for The Stunt Man.

Audio Ratings Summary
Audio Sync
Surround Channel Use


Main Menu

     The main menu is presented over a still of Robert Urich and his co-stars, with gold artwork featured prominently. There is music from the series behind the menu.

Episodic Promotions

     Each episode has a promotion of approximately forty-seven seconds. The quality is reasonable, but not anything like the quality of the actual episode.

Reverse of Cover Slick

     The reverse of the cover has a plot outline, and a list of guests, for each episode. The outlines are each of approximately sixty words. There is also a very nice full colour still of Robert Urich - the same as that in Volume 1.


    There is censorship information available for this title. Click here to read it (a new window will open). WARNING: Often these entries contain MAJOR plot spoilers.

R4 vs R1

NOTE: To view non-R4 releases, your equipment needs to be multi-zone compatible and usually also NTSC compatible.

    The Region 1 release contains English subtitles, but that is the only difference.


     Fans of private detective series should relish these episodes. Fast, slick, funny and glamorous Vega$ and its star still glitter. This is great, glossy TV entertainment from the late seventies and is given enormously satisfying presentation on these three discs. Super cool in dress and manner, Robert Urich was one of the best TV private eyes, and it is great to see him in action once more.

Ratings (out of 5)


© Garry Armstrong (BioGarry)
Friday, May 18, 2012
Review Equipment
DVDSONY BLU RAY BDP-S350, using HDMI output
DisplaySamsung LA55A950D1F : 55 inch LCD HD. Calibrated with THX Optimizer. This display device is 16x9 capable. This display device has a maximum native resolution of 1080p.
Audio DecoderBuilt in to DVD player. Calibrated with THX Optimizer.
AmplificationOnkyo TX-DS777
SpeakersVAF DC-X fronts; VAF DC-6 center; VAF DC-2 rears; LFE-07subwoofer (80W X 2)

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