Picks and Pans Review: Cheating Las Vegas

updated 08/21/2000 at 01:00 AM EDT

originally published 08/21/2000 01:00AM

TLC (Sun., Aug. 20, 8 p.m. ET)

Bet you won't sing "Viva Las Vegas" after these documentaries.

Dreamland, an uneven but worthwhile entry in the "POV" series, directs our attention away from high-rollers and showgirls and toward some year-round residents whose gambling is stripped of glamor. The most memorable of them is Lou, a semiretired tailor with a need to sit in Binion's Horseshoe casino ("friendliest" in town, he avers) and fritter away his money. Pathetically jaunty in matching hat and sport shirt, Lou fills his loneliness with cards, chips and complimentary cigarettes. The film gets a little preachy about compulsive gambling, but the point is well-taken.

TLC's program, narrated by James Woods, covers the war between casino security experts and ingenious cheaters, who'll even wear an "on-body computer system" to the gaming table. It's mildly interesting, but the techno-talk makes you want to say, "Shut up and deal."

Bottom Line: Put a little down on PBS

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