Miami Vice



Miami Vice was a popular television series (five seasons on NBC from 1984-1989) starring Don Johnson (James "Sonny" Crockett) and Philip Michael Thomas (Ricardo "Rico" Tubbs) as two Miami police detectives working undercover. A motion picture based on the series was released on July 28, 2006.

According to legend, the head of NBC's Entertainment Division, Brandon Tartikoff, wrote a brainstorming memo that simply read "MTV cops". The result was Michael Mann's production of Miami Vice. However, according to series creator Anthony Yerkovitch it was a Time Magazine article on a then-recently enacted law that allows law enforcement agencies (the DEA, FBI, etc.) to use items recovered in the commission of a crime to further other unrelated investigations. This allowed a confiscated Ferrari, for example, to be used to enhance an undercover officer's cover as a high-profile drug dealer, which is exactly what happened on Miami Vice.

While the series had many regulars, it focused primarily on two lead characters. James "Sonny" Crockett, is a former University of Florida college football star (wide receiver), who became a police detective after a shattered knee and 2 tours in the Vietnam War. As the series begins he is a vice officer with the Metro-Dade (now Miami-Dade) Police Department's Organized Crime Bureau using an elaborate cover named "Sonny Burnett." Elements of his cover included a Ferrari Daytona Spyder (the car used on the show was actually a modified Chevrolet Corvette), a cigarette-style offshore power-boat, and a sailboat on which he lives with his pet alligator Elvis. Later on, Crockett's Ferrari Daytona Spyder was replaced by a Ferrari Testarossa. Ricardo "Rico" Tubbs, a former New York police detective, travels to Miami on a mission involving a personal vendetta against Calderone, the man who killed his brother, and after teaming up temporarily with Crockett in the pilot episode, follows his advice to transfer to "a career in Southern law enforcement", joining the Miami department and becoming Crockett's permanent partner. Tubbs often poses as "Rico Cooper," a rich out-of-town buyer, with Crockett posing as Sonny Burnett, serving to broker his deals with criminals, thus setting them up for arrest. The series finale saw Crockett and Tubbs resigning from the Miami Police in the aftermath of a major drug lord scandal. They are seen driving off together, and Crockett asking Tubbs if he'd consider a new career in Southern law enforcement, to which he replied, "Maybe, Maybe." This was a nod to the ending of the series premiere.

The storylines of the series differed from those of police shows from earlier decades, simultaneously reflecting the more glitzy and gritty feel of 1980s "New Wave" culture; cocaine trafficking and culture, for instance, were common themes in many episodes, and the graphic, casual violence and the relatively exotic, subtropical urban setting of Miami (the series was shot on location) were significant departures from most earlier cop shows. The locale gave the series a pronounced internationalist Latin American and Caribbean flavor, which occasional location shoots in Latin America intensified.

The truly revolutionary aspects of Miami Vice, however, lay in its music, cinematography, and imagery, which made large segments of each episode resemble a protracted music video. As Lee Katkin, one of the series' directors, once stated, "The show is written for an MTV audience, which is more interested in images, emotions and energy than plot and character." These elements made the series into an instant hit, and its first season saw an unprecedented number of Emmy Award nominations. While the first few episodes contain some echoes of cop show convention, the producers soon abandoned them and fully developed the trademark Vice style. One key to the complete transformation was the early introduction of the Vice Division's new commander, former DEA agent Lieutenant Martin Castillo (Edward James Olmos in an Emmy-winning performance). Distant, imposing, and utterly competent and professional, Castillo was an intriguing character with a somewhat mysterious background and a highly distinctive style that perfectly counterbalanced the flamboyancy of Crockett and Tubbs.

Many famous actors, musicians, comedians, and other celebrities appeared on the series as well. Willie Nelson once guest-starred as a retired Texas Ranger, Gene Simmons and Ted Nugent played drug dealers, Glenn Frey played a drug smuggler and Frank Zappa appeared as a drug kingpin. Phil Collins played a game show host, Miles Davis played a pimp, Frankie Valli played a mob boss, and Little Richard appeared as a street preacher. In a bizarre move, auto executive Lee Iacocca appeared in one episode as a gun-crazy parks commissioner while G. Gordon Liddy added a realistically political edge to two episodes by starring as a politically-motivated drug runner. Other notable appearances include now well known stars such as Annette Bening, Bruce Willis, Viggo Mortensen, Ben Stiller, Chris Cooper, Wesley Snipes, Liam Neeson, Michael Richards, Chris Rock, Julia Roberts, Helena Bonham Carter, Melanie Griffith and Benicio Del Toro. The show also featured many up-and-coming television and film actors including Michael Madsen, Dennis Farina, Steve Buscemi, John Leguizamo, Charles S. Dutton, Lou Diamond Phillips, Ed O'Neill, Luis Guzmán, Ving Rhames, Jimmy Smits (who appeared in the pilot as Crockett's ill-fated original partner), Dan Hedaya, Bill Paxton, Bruce McGill, Penn Jillette, Nathan Lane, Michael DeLorenzo, Giancarlo Esposito, Esai Morales and Ian McShane.

The show had a huge influence on (men's) fashion at the time, arguably inventing the "T-shirt under Armani jacket"-style. Pastel colors dominated the series in clothes as well as in architecture. Crockett's perpetually unshaven appearance sparked a minor fashion trend, inspiring men to wear a small amount of beard stubble, also known as five o'clock shadow or "designer stubble", at all times.

Many episodes of Miami Vice were filmed in the South Beach section of Miami Beach, an area which, at the time, was blighted by poverty and crime. Some street corners of South Beach were so run down that the production crew actually decided to repaint the exterior walls of some buildings before filming. Miami Vice is to some degree credited with causing a wave of support for the preservation of Miami's famous Art Deco architecture in the mid-to-late 80s; quite a few of those buildings (among them many beachfront hotels) have been renovated since, making that part of South Beach one of Southern Florida's most popular places for tourists and celebrities.

Several episode scripts were loosely based on actual crimes that occurred in Miami over the years. (Example: "Out Where the Buses Don't Run", 1985.) During its course, the series also took a look at controversial political issues like the Northern Ireland conflict (episode "When Irish Eyes Are Crying"), the drug war in South America (e.g. "Prodigal Son") or child trafficking (episode "Baby Blues").

Personal issues also arose: Crockett divorced from his wife Caroline early in the series, and later his second wife Caitlin (Sheena Easton) was killed by one of his enemies. In the three episodes "Mirror Image", "Hostile Takeover" and "Redemption in Blood", a concussion caused by an explosion caused Crockett to believe he was his undercover alter ego Sonny Burnett, a drug dealer. Tubbs had a running, partly personal vendetta with the Calderone family, a member of which had ordered the death of his brother Raphael, a New York City police detective.

In the first seasons the tone was often very light, especially when comical characters such as Noogie and Izzy appeared. Later on, the content was almost always quite dark and cynical, with Crockett and Tubbs also having to fight corruption. Typically the darker episodes had no tag sequence, each episode ending abruptly immediately after a climax that almost always involved violence and death, often giving the episodes, especially in later seasons, a despairing and sometimes nihilistic feel despite the trademark glamour and conspicuous wealth. Given its idiosyncratic "dark" feel and touch, Miami Vice is frequently cited as an example of made-for-TV Neo-noir; still today, the show's executive producer over most of the five years, Michael Mann, is often credited with being one of the most influential modern-day Film Noir or Neo-Noir directors.

Miami Vice was one of the best-known shows of the 1980s, and it had a huge impact on the decade's popular fashions as well as setting the tone for further evolution of police drama. Series such as Homicide: Life on the Street, NYPD Blue, and Law & Order, though being vastly different in style and theme from Miami Vice, followed its lead in breaking the genre's mold.

In fact the show has been so influential that the style of Miami Vice has often been borrowed or alluded to by much of today's pop culture in order to indicate or emphasise the 80's decade. Examples of this includes the episode "The One With All The Thanksgivings" from the American sitcom Friends. Flashback scenes from the 80s in this episode shows the characters Ross and Chandler in pastel coloured suits with rolled up sleeves like that of Sonny Crockett. Another more obvious example would be the computer and video game Grand Theft Auto: Vice City, which was published by Rockstar Games and is set in the 1980's. Two undercover police officers appear in a police sports car within the game when three felony stars are obtained by the player. It is believed that the two officers (one white and one black) represent the two leading characters of Miami Vice. One of the main characters, Lance Vance, was actually voiced by Philip-Michael Thomas.

Many of the styles popularized by the TV show, such as the tshirt under pastel suits, no socks, rolled up sleeves, and Rayban sunglasses have today become the standard image of 1980's culture. Ironically, people today will often recognise the decade's image, yet are unfamiliar with the TV show, despite it being the phenomenon that gave birth to the style in the first place.

Miami Vice was noted for its innovative use of music, particularly countless pop and rock hits of the 1980s and the distinctive, synthesized instrumental music of Jan Hammer. Among the many well-known bands and artists who contributed their music to the show were Jackson Browne, Phil Collins, Bryan Adams, Tina Turner, Peter Gabriel, Depeche Mode, The Hooters, Glenn Frey, Frankie Goes to Hollywood, Foreigner, Laura Branigan and Billy Idol. Some of them even guest-starred in episodes, such as Phil Collins, Glenn Frey, and Willie Nelson. The integration of music (particularly the hits of the 1980's) and carefully selected scenes made each episode seem like a short film or movie that was unique compared to other dramas at the time.

One of the most famous scenes that perhaps differentiated Miami Vice from the rest started in the second part of the pilot episode named "Brother's Keeper." This scene involved Crockett and Tubbs travelling through the streets of Miami at night in their black Ferrari Daytona Spyder whilst the song "In the Air Tonight" by Phil Collins (Collins' later hit "Take Me Home" was used in the premier of the second series) was played in the background. The combination of the memorable camera angles of the car (view of the front wheel and the hood) and the removal of background noise to accommodate the song culminated in a surreal and perhaps eerie atmosphere. As a result many would consider this as one of the symbols of the 1980s cop show.

Due to such an influential scene those behind the show decided to recreate the effect in the finale episode named "Freefall". Despite travelling in a white Ferrari Testarossa this time around, once again the combination of the mounted camera angles and the removal of background noise to accommodate the song was applied. Overall to create a sense of nostalgia relating to the pilot episode five years ago. "Bad Attitude" by Honeymoon Suite was the song used this time around.

During the show's run, three official soundtrack albums with original music from the episodes were released. With the series' rising popularity, record companies increasingly attempted to get their up-and-coming acts into the episodes.

Jan Hammer showed great versatility and ingenuity in underscoring the series; as stated by him in an interview in the Season 1 DVD Box, then-executive producer Michael Mann gave him a high amount of artistic freedom in doing so. This resulted in some memorable instrumental music pieces, including the show's title theme, which climbed to the top of the U.S. Billboard charts in 1985, the first TV theme to do so since "Theme from Peter Gunn." The Miami Vice original soundtrack, featuring Jan Hammer's #1 hit theme song and Glenn Frey's "You Belong to the City" (a #2 hit), stayed on the top of the U.S. album chart for 11 weeks in 1985, making it the most successful TV soundtrack of all time, Until 2006 when Disney Channel's High School Musical beat its record.

"Crockett's Theme", another recurring tune from the show, became a #1 hit in several European countries around 1987. Hammer has released several albums with music from the series; among them are Escape from Television (1987), Snapshots (1989) and, after countless requests from loyal fans, Miami Vice: The Complete Collection (2002).

In the pilot episode, Sonny used a SIG-Sauer P220 in .45 Auto (a European version with a magazine release catch on the heel of the butt, imported into the US by Browning). During the first two seasons, he used a Bren Ten, a stainless steel handgun notable as the first ever chambered for 10 mm Auto. It was manufactured by Dornaus & Dixon, but it was prone to parts breakage and magazines were hard to get and cost over $100 a piece. The company went out of business after about a year. Starting with the third season, Sonny used a Smith & Wesson 645 in .45 caliber. Smith & Wesson had just introduced this new model, which was made of stainless steel. He carried it in a Jackass Leather Holster which had been out of production for a few years and was replaced by a Galco shoulder holster named the Miami Classic. Smith & Wesson discontinued that model and replaced it with the model 4506. It was this gun that he used for the last season. A good view of the Bren 10 can been seen in the "Glades" episode and also the "One Way Ticket" episode. Sonny also carried a backup gun which was a Detonics CombatMaster in .45 caliber. It can be seen in the bar scene shootout in the "Prodigal Son" episodes. He carried it in an ankle holster on his left leg. Rico and Trudy both used Smith & Wesson Model 38 in .38 Special. Gina used a Beretta 92. Lt. Castillo used a Smith & Wesson .357 Magnum and a Colt 1911. Rico also used an Ithaca 37 pump shotgun sawed off called an Ithaca Stakeout, which he carried on a halter under his jacket. For more see Desert Eagle and Riot shotgun.

Miami Vice was one of the first American network television programs to be broadcast in stereophonic sound. At that time, stereo production for television (especially location sound) was novel and difficult.

Although all manner of pastel shades were used during the filming of the series, Michael Mann avoided the color red.

Throughout the series, Sonny lived on a 42' Endeavor sailboat named the St. Vitus Dance. Sonny also used a Chris Craft Stinger 390 during season 1, and a 38' Welcraft Scarab 38KV in seasons 2-5.

During the first two seasons and two episodes of the third season, Detective Crockett drove a midnight black 1972 Ferrari Daytona Spyder 365 GTS/4 with a Florida license plate ZAQ178, until it was blown to pieces with a hand held stinger missile launcher during an illegal arms deal. Lt. Castillo told a still-grieving Crockett to check back for his new car. Sonny was greeted by a white 1986 Ferrari Testarossa, with a Florida license plate ATF00M. Ricardo Tubbs drove a 1964 Cadillac Coupe DeVille Convertible. Stan Switek drove a turquoise 1961 Ford Thunderbird. Gina Calabrese drove an early 1970 Mercury Cougar XR-7 convertible.

Ratings

* 1984-1985 season: # 28
* 1985-1986 season: # 9
* 1986-1987 season: # 22
* 1987-1988 season: # 29
* 1988-1989 season: # 34

According to the Sunday Mail, the series ended for a variety of reasons:
Miami Vice
Don Johnson is keen to move on and take up the film career that is knocking at his door and to begin a new career as a producer of films and television, while Mann is keen to return to movies. Philip Michael Thomas - the egotistical but likeable young actor - wants to explore other TV and movie roles, while Edward James Olmos, after his tour de force performance in Stand and Deliver is in hot demand for movies. And NBC, the network that runs Miami Vice in the US, says that with slowing ratings, and newer hip cop shows like Wiseguy, it is time to call it quits down in Miami and move on.

The DVD release of series has been significantly slowed due to one of the signature features of the show, the heavy intergration of early 80's pop and rock music, with sourcing the rights and permission to use each piece of music decades later complicating matters.

The film adaptation of Miami Vice was released in North America on July 28, 2006. Michael Mann, co-creator and executive producer of the television series and director of such films as Heat and Collateral, wrote and directed. Colin Farrell played Crockett, and Academy Award winning actor Jamie Foxx played Tubbs. There is also an original score by Klaus Badelt (Pirates of the Caribbean, Poseidon) and John Murphy (Snatch, Basic Instinct 2, 28 Days Later).

To promote the new movie, the original pilot episode (shot on film) was re-aired by NBC in HDTV (1080i) on July 22. Called Miami Vice: Undercover, the stars of the new movie acted as the hosts for the three-hour special.

Cast of original 1984-1989 series

* Don Johnson - Detective James "Sonny" Crockett/Sonny Burnett
* Philip Michael Thomas - Detective Ricardo "Rico" Tubbs/Rico Cooper
* Edward James Olmos - Lieutenant Martin Castillo
* Gregory Sierra - Lieutenant Lou Rodriguez
* Saundra Santiago - Detective Gina Navarro Calabrese
* Olivia Brown - Detective "Big Booty" Trudy Joplin
* Michael Talbott - Detective Stanley "Stan" Switek
* John Diehl - Detective Laurence "Larry" Zito

Recurring cast

* Martin Ferrero - Izzy Moreno
* Charlie Barnett - Noogie Lamont
* Sheena Easton - Caitlin Davies-Crockett
* Pam Grier - Valerie Gordon
* Belinda Montgomery - Caroline Crockett/Ballard

References to Miami Vice in Popular Culture

* In a large sense Grand Theft Auto: Vice City is a Miami Vice game, its setting and style heavily influenced by the show with many references and homages. Most notable is upon attaining a 3-star wanted level in the game will result in the player being chased by two Vice cops, in a Ferrari Testarossa-styled car. One of the police officers is a white male, the other a black male, and both are dressed in the trademark style of the show. They jump out and yell "Vice!" Among the many period vehicles in the game is the Stinger, a Ferrari Daytona Spyder. Lance Vance, a game character, is also based off of Ricardo Tubbs. Both Vance and Tubbs share thirst for revenge for the deaths of their brothers at the hands of drug dealers. Additionally, Lance Vance was voiced by Phillip Michael Thomas, who portrayed Tubbs on the show.

* In the 1991 Christmas episode of the British sit-com, Only Fools and Horses, the episode is named Miami Twice.

* In the Family Guy episode "Brian Does Hollywood", several shots depict Cleveland and Peter driving a speedboat around a Miami-like environment while wearing pastel-colored suits, in an obvious homage to Miami Vice.

* In the movie The Wedding Singer, the character Glenn Guglia, dressed in Crockett's trademark white linen suit over a pastel blue T-shirt, and sporting a six-o'clock shadow, says he's not worried about his summer wedding interfering with seeing Miami Vice because they will be showing reruns. Later, he is shown driving and listening to the "Miami Vice Theme"

* In the British television series, Lock, Stock..., based off of the movie Lock, Stock, and Two Smoking Barrels, the local crime boss was named Miami Vice.

* In an episode of The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air, Geoffrey the Butler (played by Joseph Marcell) walks into the kitchen wearing a white pastel suit and purple turtle-neck underneath; Will (played by Will Smith) makes a joke saying "Is that Geoffrey or Philip Michael Thomas."

* In one of the first episodes of The Sopranos to feature Steve Buscemi, he is just getting out of prison (which he had been in since the 1980s), and wears his only clothes, a white suit with a blue pastel t-shirt underneath; to which a mobster asks him, "Hey, where's Tubbs?" Buscemi also guest starred in a Miami Vice episode.

* In the short-lived FOX sitcom That '80s Show, the character Margaret visits the Howards and is impressed with their all-pastel livingroom interior, exclaiming "Boy, you sure love your pastels!" - a reference to the then-unique pastel color schemes that were used in many of the episodes of Miami Vice and still today are perceived as one of the show's key elements and as emblematic for 1980s style and fashion.

* In the late 1980s, independent comic book writer/artist Dwayne Ferguson published a series entitled Hamster Vice.

* The Children's show Sesame Street parodied the hit 1980s show with a few segments entitled Miami Mice.

* In Episode 7 of The Bill Series 3 (1987), Blind Alleys, Clogged Roads, PC Reg Hollis looks for PC Nick Shaw in the CAD Room of Sun Hill. PC Melvin mentions that he's probably off watching Miami Vice.

* The comic strip Heathcliff featured a take-off on Miami Vice. The two characters were crime-fighting mice, Sonny Sprockett and Rico Tibbs, that helped Heathcliff solve mysteries.

* Miami Vice has also been parodied in the world of professional wrestling. Fuji Vice, a parody skit featuring wrestlers The Magnificent Muraco and Mr. Fuji, was aired on the WWF's Tuesday Night Titans show in 1985.

* Bill Pullman plays a not-so-bright Miami Vice-loving character in the film Ruthless_People. He owns a pair of goldfish named Crockett and Tubbs.Permission is granted to copy, distribute and/or modify this document under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License, Version 1.2 or any later version published by the Free Software Foundation; with no Invariant Sections, with no Front-Cover Texts, and with no Back-Cover Texts.
Virtual Magic is a human knowledge database blog. Text Based On Information From Wikipedia, Under The GNU Free Documentation License. Copyright (c) 2007 Virtual Magic. Permission is granted to copy, distribute and/or modify this document under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License, Version 1.1 or any later version published by the Free Software Foundation; with no Invariant Sections, no Front-Cover Texts and no Back-Cover Texts. A copy of the license is included in the section entitled "GNU Free Documentation License".

Links to this post:

Create a Link

<< Home