Friday, July 06, 2007

Dan Tanna works his Magic

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Television's slick Vegas private eye DAN TANNA tools around town in his flashy 1957 T-Bird, complete with .44 Magnum and phone, and has an office in the Desert Inn Casino and Hotel, owned by Philip Roth. But he did work for all the casinos, and seemed to know everyone, including the ton of celebrities that wandered through this show, playing themselves. Tanna wore jeans, was properly tough, and got into a lot of cases involving beautiful women. He has two secretaries, a smart one, Beatrice, and a dumb one, Angie. And he can count on the help of his two Vietnam buddies, Crazy Wayne and Big Brandt, as well as the occasional aid from sergeant Bella Archer of the Vegas cops. Greg Morris (Mission Impossible) had a recurring role as a rather nasty cop with a grudge against Tanna.
Tanna makes it clear he is not a bodyguard nor does he do divorces. Mostly, it seems, he rescued damsels (always knock-outs) in distress. Intentionally or not, it was as slick and soulless as the town in which it was set. And even though the show was popular, it was the beginning of the end for television private eyes. Subsequent shows seemed unable or unwilling to break the formula that this one nailed down. Every possible cliche was used, from the handsome, glib, jeans-clad eye with the sports coat, the cool car, the ditzy secretary to the cool location, the beautiful clients, the war buddies, etc., etc.

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