Monday, July 16, 2012

I watch TV: Miami Vice

I find it hard to believe that I have never written a whole entry here dedicated to Miami Vice.

I find it harder to believe that it premiered 28 years ago this September. I had never seen a show like it and every time I travel to Miami I think about it. Some people don’t like it. I have every episode of Season 1 just about memorized.

There are a lot of comparisons to music videos and the “MTV effect” is pretty prevalent. I did also love MTV at the time back when they actually played music videos. However, the stories were gripping also. At times, they were downright scary. It was hard for me to believe that a world like this actually existed but in reality the stories presented each week were not that far fetched.

The oddity of Miami Vice is how quickly the show sort of fell apart. It became gimmicky. Glenn Frey was good the first time. Phil Collins should have never been on there and I love Phil Collins. Don’t even get me going on G. Gordon Liddy and Willie Nelson being on there.

For the first season and parts of season 2, it was about as close to perfect television as I’ve ever seen. Only Mad Men and Person of Interest have come close to making me feel the same way I do about Miami Vice.

So, let’s take a trip down memory lane and look back at some scenes from Miami Vice:

  • “It was real, wasn’t it?” Here is a scene from the first episode. It introduces us to “In the Air Tonight” by Phil Collins and the art of filming a car at all sorts of new angles. Also notice how you don’t hear the noise from the actual driving but only Tubbs loading the gun. That’s a bit eerie. The scene with the phone booth under the neon sign is like framed art. It wouldn’t be so dramatic today thanks to cell phones.
  • In episode 5, Crockett and Tubbs head off to bring Calderone to justice. This involves a boat ride that appears to be making Tubbs quite sea sick. The song, “Voices”, by Russ Ballard seems to me to be the perfect fit but it was nearly impossible to find at the time and unlike “In the Air Tonight” and “What’s Love Got to Do With It” that appears at the end of this episode, it did not become a hit.
  • “It all happened right here”  This is from episode 21, “Evan”. Evan was played by William Russ. You may know him as the dad on “Boy Meets World” but as Evan he was a cop dead bent on taking a bullet and you find out why in this clip. Miami Vice was pretty ahead of its time on the subject matter. You’ll want to turn annotations off on this clip since it is posted as part of a script writing example.
  • A clip of William Russ from this episode is at this link. It can’t be embedded for some reason.
  • Finally, here is a clip from episode 34, “Definitely Miami”. For me, this is the last great episode of the series and it was aired midway into a very uneven season two. The show kept going for three more seasons and though there were some bright moments at times, it had really had lost the magic. There are two excellent storylines in this episode but the ending with Godley & Creme’s  “Cry” is just about perfect (yet a bit out of place if you don’t see the whole episode).

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