Ken Tucker
July 07, 2004 AT 04:00 AM EDT

American Casino

TV Show
Current Status
In Season
Discovery Channel
Reality TV

We gave it a B-

Over at the Discovery Channel’s American Casino, there’s a whole staff of jerks running the Green Valley Ranch Resort Casino and Spa (just off the Vegas strip). Some weeks, they manage to misplace great trays of food meant as free grazing fodder for the cattle — excuse me, patrons — of a blackjack tournament. (Where is the camera when, say, some high roller fingers a sallow bit of neglected meat after it’s been sitting in a hallway for hours?)

”American Casino” comes to life only when two employees, director of hotel operations Michael Tata and hotel manager Ninya Perna, show up on screen to discuss each other’s responsibilities. And by ”discuss” I mean ”rip each other’s throats out.” Tata is a great reality-show character: a first-class weasel, groveling to the higher-ups, then swerving around to become sadistically passive-aggressive and condescending to Perna. It’s easy to see why this seething lump of creepiness is threatened by the tall drink o’ water Perna — she’s intelligent, funny, and more classily attractive than any showgirl: a nightmare underling for an insecure overlord who tries to belittle her down to size.

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