Saturday, December 14, 2013

TV Talk - Miami Vice

So, I have a confession to make… I am very fond of the 1980’s. You could say I love the 80’s, but I don’t know if I’m that committed. There was awesome music being blasted on the radio waves, there were some great movies, and there were some cool TV shows. While I don’t remember the 80’s on the account that I’m 28, there is one 80’s show I managed to catch up with later on in life: Miami Vice. It was a cop show that detailed the exploits of Miami’s vice squad as they work to catch the drug dealers, the pimps, and the all-around buttheads.

I never watched the show while it was on. I believe I was 3 at the time it was cancelled and I highly doubt my mom would had let watch it anyway. I do remember seeing an ad on TV about getting the show on VHS back in the 90’s. It wasn’t until 2003 where I saw an episode of MV. My mom, dad, and sister went to Oklahoma for a week, so my grandmother and I stayed at my uncle’s house for the week. I’ll say that was a weird couple of weeks. The channel that eventually became Spike TV was showing a week-long marathon of the show and I ended up tuning in.

It would be another few years before I would see any of the show again. I think TV Land did a weekend marathon of the show in 2006 and I tuned in for some of that. In 2010, I saw that Hulu had all (or almost all) of the episodes, so I decided to go through it all. I ended up stopping in the 3rd season. In 2013, I got Netflix and saw that the show was on there as well. A couple of months ago, I decided to finish from where I left off.  I also own the first season on DVD.

It's Edward James Olmos with a sword!!! That's awesome!!!

As you can probably tell, I really like this show.
  • The characters – One thing that drove me to the show were the main characters of Sonny Crockett and Rico Tubbs. They were just the epitome of cool. They worked undercover, drove cool cars, and hooked up with hot women. They also had a pretty good friendship and I liked their banter. I also liked at lot of the supporting characters like Gina, Trudy, Switek, and… that other comic relief guy. I just can’t remember his name… oh yeah, Zito! There’s another character who I really like, but I’ll get to Mr. Olmos in a minute. I liked seeing them get into some sticky situations and seeing them try to separate their personal life and work. Even though Crockett and Tubbs are the faces of MV, there is one character I like more than them… Martin Castillo.
  • Castillo!!! – Castillo was the squad’s second boss. He was played by an awesome actor named Edward James Olmos. He was probably the most subtle character out of all of them. He rarely talks and is always on top of his game. His backstory was also pretty interesting. He used to be a DEA agent in Vietnam and he even knows martial arts. He even handles a sword in one episode! The character’s awesome!!!
  • The stories and overall feel – This show is drenched in the 80’s. You can easily tell what decade this is from the clothes to the cars. I think I even saw a DeLorean in one episode While the show had a bit of camp especially in the early seasons, it did touch upon the issues of the day. The show also had some great stories and did get pretty dark at times. If anything, it’s a prototype of Law and Order: SVU.
  • The action – The show had some pretty epic action scenes and some cool car chase scenes. It all had a cinematic feel. Michael Mann was the main driver of the show, so you know you’ll get some good action. The music also helped these scenes feel exciting.  
  • The music – The music kicked butt in two ways. Top-hit songs from the era would be played. They’d play stuff from artists like Genesis, Foreigner, Tina Turner, the Police, U2, and Frankie Goes to Hollywood (awesome name). The show’s music was also pretty good. I like the theme song. It’s definitely memorable. Jan Hammer composed the show’s music from Season 1 to Season 4. It always fit the scenes and gave the show a nice, cool feel.
  • The guest stars – It was also cool to see what guest star actually show up on MV. A lot and I mean a lot of big stars have had guest roles on the show. Some were either stars at the time or some hadn’t become stars yet. Some guest stars included Bruce Willis, Liam Neeson, Ving Rhames, Julia Roberts, Pam Grier, Phil Collins, James Brown (in one of the worst episodes unfortunately), Chris Rock, John Glover, John Leguizamo, Ian McShane, and Dean Stockwell.

James... Man, why did you have to be in this horrible episode? In fact, he and Chris Rock were probably the only bright spots in it.

While there is a lot I like about the show, there are some things that I thought were pretty “meh.”
  • Seasons Four and Five – Fans consider the last two seasons of MV to be the worst, so I came upon these seasons with a little trepidation. I don’t think they are bad as people think they are, but they are my least favorite seasons. They both have some really lackluster episodes. “Missing Hours,” a Season 4 episode that involves UFOs (???????), is probably my least favorite episode of the whole show. They also married off Sonny which was a pretty weird move because it felt rushed. I will say that Season Four did get a little better towards its end. Season Five was mostly up and down in terms of quality as well. The series finale was even a little lackluster but not bad. I think the show-runners just ran out of steam.
  • Some poor acting – While the acting was ranged from decent to pretty good, it could get a little shaky from time to time. Sometimes, there’s a little bit of overacting. Other times, the acting can be a little wooden.
  • The music in Season Five – Jan Hammer left the show at the end of Season Four. Tim Truman replaced Hammer as the composer. Overall, Truman was okay. He wasn’t bad because he would hit the right mood at times. Other times, I felt like the music just didn’t fit. Maybe it was that overbearing guitar or something.
  • Not much focus on secondary characters – Now this is pretty much a nitpick and not a straight-out dislike. I do wish there were more episodes devoted to the supporting characters like Trudy, Zito, Switek, and Gina. They do get a couple of episodes about them, but not many. I think Castillo got quite a few episodes that revolved around him. A lot of the episodes either revolved around the case, Sonny, or Rico. If fact, too much focus was on Sonny in those last couple of seasons especially Season 4. 
Favorite Episodes
Instead of a countdown list or something, here are my favorite episodes from each season.
  • Season 1: “Brother’s Keeper,” “Caldoron’s Return,” “No Exit,” “Milk Run,” “Golden Triangle,” “Rite of Passage,” “The Maze,” and “Evan.”
  • Season 2: “Prodigal Son,” “Tale of the Goat,” “Bushido,” “Phil the Shill,” “French Twist,” and “Sons and Lovers.”
  • Season 3: “Stone’s War”, “Walk Alone,” “The Good Collar,” “Baby Blues,” “Forgive Us Our Debts,” “Down for the Count,” “The Savage,” “Red Tape,” “Lend Me an Ear,” and “Viking Bikers from Hell.”
  • Season 4: “Contempt of Court,” “Child’s Play,” “God’s Work,” “Hell Hath No Fury,” “Deliver Us from Evil,” and “Mirror Image.”
  • Season 5: “Hostile Takeover,” “Redemption in Blood,” “Borracasa,” “Miami Squeeze,”  “Over the Line,” “Too Much, Too Late,” and “Freefall.”

Overall, I like the show. It has its flaws especially in the last two seasons, but I think it was a pretty good one. If you have a love for the 80’s or you’re just feeling bored, check it out. 

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