The Casino
Episode 3

Episode Report Card
Jacob Clifton: C | Grade It Now!
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All Bad Things

As I'm sure we're all aware by now, the awful Two Shots song was written by Bono. That's all I have to say about that, but I thought I should mention it. We open with some cool, crisp highway shots and then some less cool shots of desert stuff. It's one of the few series filmed expressly for high-def digital TV, but this is the first time that's been obvious. It's all very "Everybody Wants to Rule the World." This truly awful girl is driving to Las Vegas in a bright pink cowboy hat and a beige stripper coat with a fur collar, in a teal Jeep with the top down, okay, and she's talking to her grandma on her cell phone about how excited she is to be driving to Las Vegas. She has money for the first week or so, and then she'll find a job, no problem. Meet disturbingly optimistic Jenn Nelson, interviewing now in a black shirt with a plunging neckline, a thin black ribbon choker, and a huge gothic sterling cross. Think Gunsmoke prostitute with a side of Bunny Ranch chic. Bottle blonde, pretty enough, but could easily-sleazily pass for one of the swingers from last week. She was born and raised in Portland, Oregon, which explains a lot of what we're seeing here, but she thinks Vegas is simply a "fabulous" place. Because -- get this -- "Everyone in Vegas is happy," she says. "Vegas, baby!" she says. "Woo hoo!" she says.

Vegas shots that look a little different than they have previously; then the Kombat Cam whisks us to the Golden Nugget. James, another host, comes in to see Tim and Tom. There are a couple of guys, high rollers, coming into town. Like everyone else who's ever been to Las Vegas, they tend to stay on the Strip, but we've somehow lured them to the Nugget for the weekend. They are John Marinacci and Mike Selzer, and in James's words, they are "sort of old-school kind of guys," which means they are totally in the Mob. I'm just kidding! Tim starts yelling: "From New York! I know those guys!" Which means they are totally in the Mob, for real. No, I'm just kidding again! They're not in the Mafia, they're just poker players. "Good good good," says somebody. We focus on Tom's dead, scary eyes as someone explains that "when people visit Vegas they definitely hop around from place to place" -- it's apparently Tom speaking, who apparently numbers ventriloquism among his other talents -- "and getting people from the Strip downtown is definitely a challenge." Tom wants to be definite about a few things. That's a start. Maybe next he'll be able to grip a rubber ball tightly. Tim wants to be definite about just how classy the Nugget really is: "Send one of the vintage Caddies to pick them up. Set them up real nice. I mean, I know you will, but set them up real good. I don't want them to go back to the Strip." Or kill me.

Tim wants us to "Face it." "We don't have all the things that the Strip has: we don't have the volcanoes and the pirate ships and all that, so it's tough. But whatever we've got to do...those are the kind of guys we want," he says. The kind of guys that will put the Nevada Gaming Commission's collective mind to rest regarding the Nugget's Mafia connections. The kind of guys that don't care about volcanoes and pirate ships as long as there are babes, liquor, and gambling to be had. You know, those things you can't get anywhere in Vegas except at the Golden Nugget. We see the "vintage Caddy" rolling away from the Strip as some canned and crappy trip-hop plays, with a little Godfather Theme thrown in. They should have caught a ride on the Kombat Cam, it's much faster. These guys are hilarious, I like them so much: John is very Paul Sorvino, and Mike looks like he invented something long ago and now teaches high school art. I'm going to call them R.I.C.O. and S.U.A.V.E. So S.U.A.V.E., whose idea apparently this little detour Downtown is, apologetically notes, "It's a little seedy down here..." "Whoa!" yells R.I.C.O., "looks like we're entering Tijuana!" And it kind of does. They drive past what looks like a bail bondsman-slash-delicatessen. Check-cashing services are theirs for the asking. "Do you realize how much I gotta love you to come downtown for you?" asks R.I.C.O. "This is such a garbage area we're going into." I love that. All in all, it's a lot like last week with the Trash Heap, because R.I.C.O. would rather be downtown with the volcanoes and pirate ships, and he's totally mugging for the camera, while S.U.A.V.E. just wants him to be cool while they get a bunch of stuff for free. They discuss that there is a big difference between "Uptown" and "Downtown." "It was like going through like a change of times, like a time warp," says R.I.C.O. "Bail bonds and buyin' jewelry and stuff like that. That's not really what Vegas is, but...obviously it was what it was," he interviews. He thinks such interesting thoughts and expresses them so delightfully. I love R.I.C.O. "I'm not feeling this, I'll be honest with you," he says to S.U.A.V.E., who in interview talks about how the Strip places (he mentions the Venetian by name) had simply started to seem "too plastic." S.U.A.V.E. understands about the volcanoes and the pirate ships and how empty it all is, and he has convinced R.I.C.O. to take a walk on the classier, old-school retro vibe side.

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The Casino

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