Miami Vice: Season 1

Miami Vice: Season 1

For fans of Miam-Vice, Miami
Vice: Season 1 is a must

Miami Vice: Season 1

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Some television shows have a great impact on the viewing public. Songs become super popular, fashion styles explode on the scene and people at work start using phrases repeated in the latest fashionable shows.

There is little doubt that in the mid-eighties the series that drove more trends than any other series was Miami-Vice. When this show premiered all of a sudden it seemed that every man between twenty and forty was sporting a five o’clock shadow, wearing pastel shirts and white linen suits with the sleeves pushed up. Although it lasted only about five seasons the impact it made resonates even to today. Now that the first season is on DVD we can revisit those wild days of Miami Vice. Detective James 'Sonny' Crockett (Don Johnson) is a man in serious trouble. His job as an undercover vice detective has placed a heavy burden on his crumbling marriage. He was a loose cannon, a loner that works just barely inside the law. When a murder of a New York City police officer brings Detective Ricardo Tubbs (Philip Michael Thomas) to Miami a reluctant partnership is formed between the two men. Each week Crockett and Tubbs would take on the underbelly of society, although often the criminals they sought where extremely rich and well connected. Those in the narcotics trade, whether a reigning drug lord or the lowest street dealer would find the relentless pair on their tales. Sure there where other detectives that worked with them, for example, Gina (Saundra Santiago) and Trudy (Olivia Brown) typically relegated to the task of arm candy or in the disguise of prostitutes. Then there was Stan Switek (Michael Talbott) who mostly sat in a van monitoring the situations as they unfolded. The boss of their unit for most of the series was Lt. Martin Castillo (Edward James Olmos), the laconic supervisor always at his wits end dealing with the antic of Crockett and Tubbs. One little piece of trivia here, the boss was originally portray by Gregory Sierra in the role Lt. Lou Rodriguez. Word is that he did not like living in Miami and left the show.

There where aspects of this show that worked in such a way that it was above a lot of its competition. For one thing they did not always have a happy ending with the criminal being lead off to justice. In a number of episodes the bad guy gets away with his crime, good guys die and crime actually does pay. The writers and producers also did not feel the need to tie up all the loose ends in a single episode. In the first season there were no less than three double episodes. The show also was a departure from the typical portrayal of those addicted to drugs. In most previous television series the junkie was always the lowest form of life, living on the street, hustling for their next fix. In this show the audience was shown that the drug epidemic that was booming in the eighties affected every strata of society. In one episode the addict was the son of a rich industrialist, in another it was middle class kids from New York.

The casting of Miami Vice: Season 1 was nothing less than inspired. Originally Crockett and Tubbs were to be played by Gary Cole and Jimmy Smits. While both are fine actors the show would be entirely different had the producers gone in that direction. Don Johnson portrays Crockett as a sullen man dedicated to his chosen profession. To him tracking down the leads and evidence needed was something visceral, as required as breathing to him. He is the epitome of cool, without ever trying to be cool. Speaking of cool none could have played Tubbs better than Philip Michael Thomas. He juxtaposed his New York self assurance against the completely different Miami ways of Crockett. Together they formed a believable and completely entertaining team. Edward James Olmos seems to have taken some of his role from Blade Runner and used it in Miami Vice: Season 1. His presentation of Castillo is in stark contrast to his detectives. He is laconic, sullen and intense. With all the flash present in Miami Vice: Season 1 his ultra thin ties and dark suits grounds the series.

The producers of Miami Vice: Season 1 realized some important facts upon their times. With the advent of MTV making music a visual experience they included four or five top of the charts songs in each episode. While music has always been part of almost any television series, with Miami Vice: Season 1 it became a character in its own right. With featured artists like The Eagles, Bob Marley, Gloria Estefan, Phil Collins, U2 and Peter Gabriel, to name but a few, the music didn’t just underscore the action it drove it. Many studios take the cheap way out when a music intensive series is brought to DVD. Unwilling to pay extra for the distribution rights they either dub the music with cover bands or completely change the songs. To their credit Universal came up with the licensing fees and all the original music is in Miami Vice: Season 1 in all its glory. Occasionally a band member would show up as a guest star. The show was famous for its slick look and pounding sounds but what held it together was the quality of the writing. The story lines were cohesive, intense and realistic. Audiences would tune in initially for the look and sound and come back every week for the stories.

Miami Vice: Season 1 received the treatment it deserved from Universal. Since music was so important to the show and the original artists where included on the soundtrack stereo would hardly do it justice. Universal remastered the audio to a full Dolby 5.1. The music booms out of the speakers but never overwhelms the dialogue. Every grunt that Crockett utters is as clear as possible. The many explosions in Miami Vice: Season 1 put the sub woofer to good use. The video is a bit on the subdued side, in keeping with the pastel trend Miami Vice: Season 1 manifested. Generally the color palette is good with realistic flesh tone and good definition between light and dark. There was true black level and no signs of any compression artifacts. Universal didn’t stop at just presenting all twenty two episodes of Miami Vice: Season 1; they provided a nice set of extras. There is a little featurette on the back story of Miami Vice, an introduction by creator Michael Mann, a look at the fashions of Miami Vice: Season 1 and the all important music use. While some of the features are on the light side they are still entertaining. This Miami Vice: Season 1 release is head and shoulders above the mixture of episodes from various seasons that was released for regions 2 and 4. For fans of Miami Vice, Miami Vice: Season 1 a must, for those busy being born when the show was first on it will be a true education.

Movie Review of Miami Vice: Season 1 by Doug MacLean of

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