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10 TV shows set in Las Vegas you may have forgotten

After 15 seasons of portraying Las Vegas as a city where people were likely to be very elaborately murdered, “CSI: Crime Scene Investigation” won’t be forgotten any time soon.

But what about some of the lower-profile TV series that have called Las Vegas home?

Like the one centered on a voyeuristic Sir-Mix-A-Lot? Or the two starring Jim Belushi — neither of which earned a second season?

Here’s a look back at some of the Las Vegas-based TV shows you may have forgotten:

“The Las Vegas Show” (1967, United Network): Hosted by comedian Bill Dana, this daily talk/variety show was the first — and, it turns out, the only — member of the United Network lineup. Ads boasted that it was transmitted from the “new color TV theater in the Hacienda Hotel” and offered up the irresistible tagline: “You’ll Nevada want to leave home!” The show, and the network, lasted a month.

“Blansky’s Beauties” (1977, ABC): This very loose spinoff of “Happy Days” starred “Rhoda’s” Nancy Walker as Mr. Cunningham’s cousin, Nancy Blansky, who tended to the Oasis Hotel’s showgirls. Eddie Mekka co-starred as the cousin of his “Laverne & Shirley” character, Carmine Ragusa. The series also featured a young Scott Baio, before he moved on to “Happy Days,” and a card-playing Great Dane named Blackjack.

“Who’s Watching the Kids?” (1978, NBC): “Blansky’s” creator Garry Marshall sold NBC a nearly identical show, featuring many of the same actors, called “Legs.” Then two of the showgirl characters were dumped in favor of Baio and another child actor for what became “Who’s Watching the Kids?” Focusing on daytime showgirls raising their younger siblings with the help of whomever was around, the sitcom marked Jim Belushi’s TV debut, as a clumsy TV news cameraman named Bert Gunkel.

“Nasty Boys” (1990, NBC): A TV movie based on a flashy, real-life narcotics unit of the North Las Vegas Police Department convinced the network to turn it into a series. But the drama, starring Dennis Franz and Benjamin Bratt, couldn’t get arrested in the ratings and was gone after 13 episodes. As executive producer Dick Wolf said in “Top of the Rock: Inside the Rise and Fall of Must See TV” (written by former NBC entertainment president Warren Littlefield): “Unfortunately, the show was too expensive. We shot the first six episodes in Las Vegas, and it was damned exciting television. We moved the show to L.A., and it just wasn’t Las Vegas. It didn’t have the same octane. In one show, we had a big gunfight on the Strip, and the next week they were out in the (San Fernando) Valley. People said, ‘No, no. That’s not what I saw last week.’ ”

“Hearts Are Wild” (1992, CBS): Kind of a desert-based “Love Boat,” this Aaron Spelling concoction chronicled the comings and goings of vacationers — including those played by Mickey Rooney, Dick Van Patten and Sally Struthers — at Caesars Palace.

“The Watcher” (1995, UPN): Big-booty-lovin’ rapper Sir Mix-A-Lot hosted this anthology series while keeping tabs on Las Vegas via an array of surveillance cameras. Unfortunately for viewers, those cameras only tended to pick up characters played by the likes of Coolio, Kato Kaelin and former Howard Stern sidekick Jackie Martling.

“The Strip” (1999, UPN): The billionaire owner of Caesars Palace recruited two former Metro detectives (Sean Patrick Flanery, Guy Torry) to watch over his guests. The lead detective, an unkempt rebel named Elvis (Flanery), lived on a beat-up boat and seemed to subsist solely on fast food, Yoo-hoos and Slurpees.

“Lucky” (2003, FX): The dark comedy starred John Corbett as a gambling addict struggling to get his life together after losing his million-dollar poker winnings, alongside Craig Robinson (“The Office”) and Billy Gardell (“Mike & Molly”). It only lasted a season, but “Lucky’s” writing was nominated for an Emmy.

“Tilt” (2005, ESPN): Success wasn’t in the cards for this drama from “Rounders” co-writers Brian Koppelman and David Levien. Attempting to cash in on poker’s exploding popularity, “Tilt” followed several players looking to take down legendary card cheat Don “The Matador” Everest (Michael Madsen). It was ESPN’s second and final attempt at a scripted dramatic series.

“The Defenders” (2010, CBS): Long before Daredevil, Jessica Jones, Luke Cage and Iron Fist assembled for Netflix, Jim Belushi and Jerry O’Connell teamed up for this series very loosely based on the lives of local attorneys Michael Cristalli and Marc Saggese.

Contact Christopher Lawrence at clawrence@reviewjournal.com or 702-380-4567. Follow @life_onthecouch on Twitter.

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