'Vegas' series premiere recap: Dennis Quaid plays real-life lawman Ralph Lamb

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Dennis Quaid comes to primetime television in "Vegas," a new drama based on the experiences of real-life lawman Ralph Lamb. The premiere episode opens in Las Vegas in 1960, a time when Lamb, played by Quaid, lives a quiet life on his ranch. Low-flying commercial jets, however, spook his cattle and make his life difficult.

In the premiere episode, Lamb, a former police investigator, is deputized and asked to help solve the murder of a governor's daughter, Samantha Meade. According to her employer, Samantha was responsible for determining credit lines for guests of the Savoy Casino.

Motorcycle tire tracks were found at the crime scene, as was an unused grave. Using old-fashioned ranching techniques, Lamb, his brother Frank (Jason O'Mara), son Dixon (Taylor Handley), and their associates round up a biker gang that has been terrorizing Nevada towns.

The tire tracks do match a motorcycle driven by one of the bikers. The sudden appearance of Cryptanthus flowers near the grave mean that it rained in the desert a few nights earlier. The grave is still wet, indicating that the hole was dug the night it rained, but the bikers were in another city at that time. The gang may not have killed Samantha, but they were at the site at some point.

During his investigation, Ralph comes face-to-face with Vincent Savino (Michael Chiklis), a Chicago mobster who came to Las Vegas to check on operations at the Savoy Casino. While he can respect Lamb's two-fisted style, the lawman starts poking around a little too much at the Savoy. "Next time you want to take a tour, let us help. We don't want any more accidents happening around here. It's bad for business," Savino cautions Lamb.

When Samantha's credit ledgers are not forthcoming, Ralph gains access to the credit office with a well-placed blob of chewing gum. Lamb tells Assistant District Attorney Katherine O'Connell (Carrie-Ann Moss) that Stuart Mills, one of Samantha's high-roller accounts from St. Louis, checked out the morning of the murder and left his belongings behind.

Meanwhile, Sheriff Hennigan (Sean Hennigan) is called out to a desert road to find out why the Chicago mob is after him. Learning that the mob thinks he spoke to the gaming commission, Hennigan threatens to tell the authorities where all the bodies are buried. The last thing this lawman ever sees is Savino's fist heading for his face.

Ralph and Frank track Mills to the Westward Ho Motel. Mills tells them that he got into heavy debt shooting craps. The credit manager at the Savoy, Bob Perrin (Kai Lennox), told him that he needs to embezzle from his bank in order to cover his gambling debts. Perrin promised Mills that he could keep gambling as long as he got a cut of the bank's money.

The Lamb brothers find Perrin at a local airstrip, trying to escape town, but there may not be enough evidence to convict him. The imprisoned motorcycle gang member says that he saw someone dragging a body in the desert. The gang member could not see his face, but he did identify Perrin's car.

While Ralph is comforting Samantha's boyfriend, Katherine summons Ralph to the desert. Before the fade to credits, Sheriff Hennigan's dead body is uncovered, and Lamb becomes the new lawman in town.

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