Laughlin, Nevada is 129 miles from Las Vegas, Nevada. There we meet Ripley Holden as he walks through his half-built casino. We see him at his home with his wife Natalie and kids Cheyenne and Jack. He gives Jack a new fancy car for his birthday, though the birthday was two weeks earlier. He has a meeting with an investor, Buddy Baxter, who tells him that he has decided to withdraw his funds from Ripley's casino and invest instead in windmill farms. We gather that Ripley has had some sort of relationship with Buddy's wife, Bunny. He gets more bad news when he goes home and meets 18-year-old Cheyenne's college-professor boyfriend. The next day, he meets with Nicky Fontana, a rival casino owner in the luscious form of Hugh Jackman. He asks Nicky to invest in his casino, which Nicky wisely (or not stupidly) declines. Ripley finds Cheyenne's boyfriend and tells him to stop seeing her and punches him in the eye as punctuation. Punch-uation. Yeah, that's right.
Ripley visits Bunny Baxter who agrees to have Buddy reinvest in Ripley's casino if said Ripley resumes his affair with her. Oh, and Bunny is played by Melanie Griffith. I know. Ripley declines and goes out and gets drunk and doesn't go home that night. Also that night, we see someone stumble into Ripley's casino. Hmm. The next day, Buddy Baxter is found dead in Ripley's office. Bunny's there and tells the police that they should question Ripley, which they do. Natalie freaks out on Ripley when he gets home and wonders if he killed Buddy. Peter Carlyle, the police guy in charge, parks outside Ripley's house. When Natalie comes out to leave, he walks up to her car and tells her that he's thinking of moving into the neighborhood, and asks her if she has any advice. Some definite flirting happens. That night at dinner, Jack says that kids at school are asking him if Ripley killed Buddy Baxter. Cheyenne comes in crying and says the prof broke up with her. Ripley comforts her and tells her that she's going to find the perfect man one day.
The next day, Peter hits on Natalie at the grocery store. Someone's going to solve a murder or get laid real soon. Jack shows up at Ripley's casino with a book bag full of money. He sold his car. Ripley takes the money, plus everything in the half-built casino coffers, to Nicky Fontana's casino and bets it ALL. And he wins, as Nicky looks on. Then he lets it ride. And he wins again! Half-built casino is saved for the day! Later, Ripley shows Jack the Viva Laughlin sign, which is now in place due to Jack's brave sacrifice. And there was a lot of singing. In a karaoke-like way, but really more like a long road trip with your parents. I can't get into it right now.
We open in a swimming pool. We're in Laughlin, Nevada, which is 129 miles south of Las Vegas. A fit guy dives into the pool and immediately makes his way to the stairs, which takes him all of seven seconds. Pretty quick morning constitutional for a guy with a bod like his. Elvis Presley's "Viva Las Vegas" is playing in the background. The fit guy's house is beautiful.
Inside, the song's still playing, and the guy chooses his outfit from a closet full of suits. With a self-satisfied grin, the guy sings to himself as he dresses in the mirror. In a really low register. I've heard about this show. There's supposed to be singing, right? Hopefully, he's just warming up. I enjoy a nice basso profundo as much as the next person, but I'm pretty sure this guy is the lead and I was expecting more of a lyric baritone. I think I'm kidding.
Anyway, the guy heads downstairs dressed and with some car keys and rolled-up papers. He's strides, nay gallops, into the kitchen, where his all-American family awaits. It's one of those clichéd rush-y morning family "Gotta go, Mom!" scenes. Elvis is still playing. The blonde teenaged daughter is on the phone and the dark and shaggy teenaged son is staring at his laptop. He wishes his son a happy birthday and the kid reminds him that his birthday was two weeks earlier. "Tick tock, tick tock. All things come to he who waits." How tantalizing, Father! This guy is not American. He sounds British or Australian. He unrolls the paper he was holding to reveal an ad that's going to be in Casino Journal. It's his head superimposed over his casino, and it's next to another ad with Hugh Jackman's head on another casino. My experience placing ads in magazines is limited -- as in, I don't have any -- but do they really provide other people's ads on glossy paper for you? Or was that just a really dull way for us to see Hugh Jackman's face in the first two minutes of this show, and to let us know that he and not-from-America guy are rivals? The insanely pretty Madchen Amick is playing the wife, and points out that his casino looks nothing like what's in the picture. He says it will once it has carpet and other essentials, but he's just joking. He reminds Madchen that he's a rags-to-riches story and Jack, his son, could be successful too. Even though he's a C student. He sounds like he's having a manic phase.
He says, "Let me show you what believing can achieve." Then he tells the girl, Cheyenne, to get off the phone. She says she's talking to a friend. Madchen says, "More than just a friend from that sound in your voice." This is stupid. Papa asks, "Is this one human or is he like all the others?" Hating this. Yeah. So, I'm already having a lot of problems with this load of crap. This dude has ripped a page from the "Flawed Hero Go-Getter Sociopath Traveling Salesman Acting Archetype Handbook" and he's on autopilot. He's locked into his "rhythm" and, human connections be damned, he's gonna go with it.