Having been a local resident of Las Vegas for nearly a year, I’d say I’ve gotten myself familiar with more than half of the city. I knew this before I moved here, but once you get away from The Strip, the city itself is relatively quiet…unless you’re on the eastside. It’s a bit dicey over there. I was talking to a dealer at O’Shea’s a few weeks ago while playing blackjack. I used my drivers license to get rated (didn’t have my players card).
“What are you doing down here?” he said to me, inquisitively.
“Visiting friends from out of town,” I said. I was lying. I was there to get Christmas gifts (in the form of cheques from the casino for my family when they visit). But I understood why he was asking me that: locals don’t go down to the Strip very often.
We got to chatting. He asked me what part of town was home. “Over in Summerlin,” I told him. “Oh, we’re practically neighbors!” he replied. He was joking. Turns out he lives near the intersection of Lake Mead and Pecos. I know exactly where that is: almost completely opposite from where I live. Summerlin is west of the Strip. Lake Mead and Pecos is northeast. “It’s a rough area,” he admitted. I played dumb to that statement, but he’s not lying.
One thing I’ve noticed lately while watching CSI—one of my favorite TV shows—is either they’re mixing in more subtle local references to the episodes or I’m just able to pick them out now. Sure, anyone can watch an episode of CSI, or any other Vegas-based TV show, and get a reference to the Strip, the Fremont Street Experience, McCarran Airport and Hoover Dam. What I’m referring to, specifically, are elements the writers have included that you probably wouldn’t really notice unless you lived in Las Vegas.
In a recent episode, one of the CSI’s was questioning a murder suspect who was also running an escort service. The suspect, played by Sharon Osbourne, feigned shock, “Are you telling me there’s no prostitution in Las Vegas?!?!” The CSI glibly responded, “This isn’t Nye County.”
Some people don’t realize prostitution is illegal in Clark County, which is where Las Vegas is located. The Nye County reference is rather clever because prostitution is legal there. Pahrump, in Nye County, is home to several brothels.
In another recent episode, the CSIs are investigating a murder in one of the seedier parts of town. The character Sara looks at one of the witnesses and says, “What is she doing down here in the alphabets?” A year ago, I would’ve had no idea what that meant. She was referring to an area just northwest of the Fremont Street Experience where all the streets are named after letters: A Street, B Street, F Street, etc. And yes, it’s a rough part of town.
In an episode that took place at the Clark County Detention Center, they used an exterior shot of the Regional Justice Center (courthouse) overlooking the Detention Center. While the set itself was not the Detention Center, using the RJC in the shot was good attention to detail, since they’re right across the street from one another.
On a side note: I used to work downtown. My parking garage was right next to the Detention Center. I had to walk three blocks to get to my building, so I’d walk past the center’s exit doors. Each morning, I would try to determine which ones were locals and which ones were tourists who got picked up for D & D. I miss working in that part of town.
Other local fixtures are fairly well known but have been used a few times in the show: Mt. Charleston, Nellis Air Force Base, the flood control tunnels (where homeless people live). Despite using shots of the Strip and Fremont Street in between scenes, they almost never mention the resorts by name. I’m guessing the owners don’t want grisly murders associated with them. Also, CSI refers to the local police as Las Vegas PD, which isn’t exactly accurate. It’s actually Las Vegas Metro PD; usually just called “Metro,” I’ve learned. While the show never mentions UNLV by name, they do use a local university quite often in episodes; only it’s called WLVU.
Anyway, it’s kinda fun watching a TV show that is set in the town where you live. I used to enjoy it when CBS had a show that took place in Indianapolis. The producers of that show didn’t delve into too many subtle nuances of Indy, but they got a few things right. With CSI, I’d say they’ve gotten it right, too. And seriously, I’ve already got the series finale halfway written. If only the producers would give me a call.