What better a place to bring a city’s resurgence than Miami? The area would arguably look different if there was a different TV show that sparked a commerical revival. With Michael Mann in the producer’s chair, along with producing partner Anthony Yerkovich (whose only other cop drama he produced was Hill Street Blues), the flashy cop drama was the reason why a lot of people decided to stay home on Friday nights.
In terms of episode content, there was a lot of formulaic cop drama things, and the usua… clichéd dialogue is prevalent. I found myself shuddering at some of the things I heard when I was watching this first season of episodes again. But there are very good episodes within this run. Aside from the introduction of Tubbs (Philip Michael Thomas) to Crockett (Don Johnson) in the first episode, along with Tubbs’ pursuit of the drug dealer who killed his cop brother, No Exit features a young Bruce Willis as an arms dealer with a dark side. Milk Run has Crockett helping a couple of naïve college kids nab a cocaine dealer and get home safely, and Dennis Farina (who later starred in Mann’s TV project Crime Story appears periodically throughout the season as a drug dealer who evades arrest, and later, witness relocation. And what may be the best episode, Evan features an old partner of Crockett’s and the friction that still exists between them and a deceased partner. Set against a couple of really cool Peter Gabriel songs, this episode is probably the best of the season in my opinion.
Like a lot of things from the 80’s TV shows, there is a bit of a hangover from some of the stuff that I remember liking. I don’t know where the hell I was when this happened, but the whole push to make Philip Michael Thomas a sex symbol passed me by. It’s not like the guy could act or anything, so why did he get a lot of camera time? This kind of stuff kept me out of the really good colleges. And to hear some of the dialogue, especially after watching shows like Homicide makes you wonder what the appeal of the show was (maybe it was the really cool car that Crockett drove). The show had a lot of diverse guest appearances during this (and other) seasons; aside from Willis and Farina, you see a future Mann collaborator (Mykelti Williamson, Heat), a couple of award winning TV actors (Jimmy Smits, NYPD Blue, Ving Rhames Only in America) and some well respected cinema actors (John Turturro, Millers Crossing). All in all, Miami Vice made for some great TV that still holds its own now.
If you want to find out why there was a Vice City, rent Miami Vice.
Well, while one of the bragging points of this DVD set is the fact that the original music on the show has been restored (bringing back a wide variety of 80’s music, some cheesy, some being very good), the Dolby Digital 5.1 soundtrack that accompanies them is very hollow-sounding, and does not provide a decent sound area to listen to. This is one of the few times where I’d say a Dolby 2.0 track would be a better pick.
The usual standard 1.33:1 full frame TV presentation here, but some of the video images are pretty grainy, and the overall color palette, something that would be a point of pride for a show such as this, really comes off as muted and not as detailed as it should be. Universal has done a good job bringing back the Cyndi Lauper and Tina Turner songs, but there was little else done here.
Universal put the entire first season out on 3 flipper discs with minimal bonus feature content. While there are previews for Las Vegas, Quantum Leap and Ray, there are 5 featurettes that average about 6-8 minutes each, that cover the style, music and production of the show, and the show itself. Yerkovich and composer Jan hammer are the only new faces that appear here, as everything else is the result of dated interview footage from the show’s peak in the mid 80’s. For such a popular show, you’d think that more work could have been put into things, but this is Universal we’re talking about.
With the surge of popularity that TV shows are getting on DVD, it’s nice to see Miami Vice finally hitting store shelves. More work could have been put into these discs for fans of the show, as it really stood as a reference point for the 1980s. It’s worth renting for curious observers, and fans of the show will be happy to see it in their collection.
Special Features List
- Series introduction by creator Michael Mann
- “The Vibe of Vice”
- “Back Story: Miami Vice
- “The Fashion”
- “The Music”