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TWO FLEW OVER THE FIRST TWO EPISODES OF VEGAS/VEGA$

Will Sampson & Robert Urich on Vegas from 1978
The pilot episode of VEGAS starring Robert Urich as smooth lady-killer Private Eye, Dan Tanna, started out a bit different than how it would gain traction later on…

Will Sampson as Twoleaf
Similar to another show a few years later, Dan is a Vietnam vet, and his war buddies, like MAGNUM P.I.'s big T.C. and shorter go-to guy Rick, are the tall Native American Will Sampson as Harlon Twoleaf and THANK GOD IT'S FRIDAY actor Chick Vennera plays Costigan, a loyal hair-feathered friend. Thus Dan (with a gorgeous sister played by Catherine Hickland) had his team that would change in later installments: After the second episode, the ONE FLEW OVER THE CUCKOO’S NEST Sampson would only appear sporadically and Chick vanished completely after the pilot, both, for the most part, replaced by Bart Braverman’s Bobby ‘Binzer’ Borzo, who initially worked for the bad guys, unsuccessfully tailing Dan and, like Elliot Gould teaches David Arkin in Robert Altman’s THE LONG GOODBYE, Borzo learns he’s not cut out to be a gangster: token goofy sidekick was a much better fit.

Robert Urich and Will Sampson on VEGAS
The HIGH ROLLIN’ pilot evolves around a young hooker who makes like a bubbly cheerleader to turn on old men (including Michael Lerner). Dan is hired by her parents for the search – turns out, she ran out of the frying pan and into the fire of the Vegas nightlife. Meanwhile, in the b-story, playing a flashy Casino owner, Roth, who hires Dan to figure out how Red Buttons keeps winning the slots, is the iconic Tony Curtis... he only lasted through one season as well as Dan's sexy "secretary" Judy Landers. 

Cristine Ferrare
What works in the pilot and follow-up episode  titled CENTERFOLD (which is actually Episode One, the pilot Zero), in which Cristina Ferrare plays a model being blackmailed by crooks to pose in the flesh, is how well Robert Urich and Will Sampson complimented each other, literally going from location to location within the Las Vegas daylight, busting skulls until they get answers.

The final image of the second episode has the two strolling off together towards Dan Tanna’s slick hot rod. One can only imagine the possibilities if the series centering on the Urich/Sampson duo. And while VEGAS was a cool three-season series that, like most TV crime ventures, had hit and miss episodes, it would have been fantastic if the canvas remained true to the original template... Although Bart Braverman would probably disagree!
 Catherine Hickland is Dan Tana's sister on the pilot of VEGAS
Will Sampson and Robert Urich head walk out of the VEGAS set
Will Sampson, Chick Vennera and Robert Urich ready for duty
A spunky Elissa Leeds plays a hooker who dresses like a cheerleader
"I heard you own a diner... Should I make a Reservation?"
Judy Landers plays a very hot human answering machine
Will Sampson standing tall in the second episode of VEGA$
Robert Urich and Will Sampson on VEGAS
Cristine Ferrare on the episode Centerfold of VEGAS

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