I can feel it, coming in the air tonight...Oh lord...
"Hey, Tubbs, you ever consider a career in Southern law enforcement?" [chuckles] "Maybe. Maybe..."
Miami Vice is a crime drama Buddy Cop Show which ran on NBC from 1984-1989. Conceived by Brandon Tartikoff as a two-word memo to the network ("MTVCops)," the series drew much of its premise from real-life laws allowing property seized from drug dealers to be used in drug enforcement. In other words, if a drug dealer has a Cool Car or Cool Boat, and that drug dealer is jailed, the police can use his stuff. These laws gave the producers a perfectly valid excuse for putting their public-servant characters in Ferraris and Armani suits.The series stars Don Johnson and Philip Michael Thomas as James "Sonny" Crockett and Ricardo "Rico" Tubbs, two pastel-colored officers of Miami-Dade PD's vice squad, as they chase down drug lords, pimps, renegade FBI agents, weapon smugglers, militia members, and other badly-dressed criminals whose downfall is to be ignorant of Miami's worst-kept secret: psst, these two are actually cops.Crockett's the muscle, a former wide receiver with a personality not unlike his namesake (He even owns an alligator). Tubbs is a New York transplant who arrives in Miami to avenge his brother's murder; he specializes in...well, posing as an out-of-towner and getting it on with a parade of beautiful ladies. Together, They Fight Crime.The series was notable for its use of contemporary popular music, and for being one of the first shows regularly broadcast in stereo. By design, the show often resembled a music video rather than a standard Police Procedural. Extended musical sequences were common, often featuring little or no dialogue and numerous images of cars, boats, guns, nightlife, and scenery. The show was filmed on location in Miami, and made use of a distinctive color palette, mostly white and pastels.Crockett's white-suit-over-t-shirt style, Perma Stubble, and Ray-Ban sunglasses all became fashion trends. His lack of socks did not.A film of the series was released in 2006 starring Colin Farrell as Crockett and Jamie Foxx as Tubbs.
Tubbs occasionally grows one of these as a disguise. Might possibly qualify as Beard of Evil since he does it to pose as a drug dealer.
Zito also grows a massive beard during the second season.
Badass Boast: From the episode "Glades". A drug dealer has a shotgun to the head of an innocent young girl, taunting Crockett that all he needs to do is twitch and the girl is dead. Crockett's response? "Maybe...you won't even...twitch..." Then he shoots the drug dealer in the head. He doesn't twitch. This scene was recreated note for note in The Movie.
Battle Couple: Of the few times they're paired together, Tubbs and Valerie are this.
Being Good Sucks: Several instances in the later seasons (which contributes to Crockett and Tubbs eventually quitting the force) show that, for all their attempts to do the right thing, it often results in the villains getting off on technicalities and innocent people being caught in the crossfire.
The Testarossa that is given to Crockett in "Stone's War" is hinted to be the same one owned by Irish mobster Bunny Berrigan in the preceding episode, "When Irish Eyes Are Smiling" (as Crockett comments that it has "new paint" when he first sees it).
In "Stone's War", Crockett says that he can't play Stone's recording of the massacre in Nicaragua because he doesn't own a television. Ten episodes later, in "Forgive Us Our Debts", Crockett finally buys a small television for the bedroom on his boat.
"A Bullet for Crockett" begins with a scene reminiscent of the pilot, where (in both instances) Crockett and Tubbs drive to an undercover drug deal as Phil Collins' "In The Air Tonight" plays in the background.
In "Deliver Us From Evil", Crockett's locker has a photograph with him and his college friend Robbie, who appeared in the second-season episode "Buddies".
Cool Boat: For the first two seasons, Sonny Crockett lived on an Endeavour 40 sailboat, which was replaced by a Endeavour 42 sailboat for the rest of the series run. He also piloted a Chris Craft Stinger 390 in the first season and a Wellcraft 38 Scarab KV afterwards.
Crockett drove a Ferrari Daytona Spyder 365 GTS/4 replica during the first two seasons and a white 1986 Ferrari Testarossa later.
Ricardo Tubbs drove a 1964 Cadillac Coupe de Ville Convertible.
Cool Guns: Given that Michael Mann was a producer, this is a given. Special mention should be given to Crockett's 10mm Bren Ten pistol from the first two seasons, two of which were custom built (and rechambered in .45 since there were no 10mm blanks in 1984) for the show. Despite the Bren Ten being an indesputable failure, it still has a cult following due to its presence on Miami Vice, and the custom finish job used on the Bren Tens in the show (Mann had the slide of both guns given a hard chrome finish to make them more visible on camera during night-time scenes) has even come to be known as "Miami Vicing".
Cowboy Cop: Willie Nelson shows up as a Texas Ranger.
Creator Cameo: Jan Hammer (the show's composer) appears as a wedding musician in the episodes "One Way Ticket" and the fourth-season episode "Like a Hurricane".
Criminal Amnesiac: Crockett loses his memory while undercover as a drug dealer. As a result, he becomes the drug dealer and proceeds to take over much of the Miami market. But in the process he shoots Tubbs when his ex-partner tries to force his memories back. When Crockett does regain his memory and tries to return to the vice squad, he's arrested. It takes a convoluted plot of defeating an Ax-Crazy criminal and saving Tubbs' life to return Crockett to the force.
The first few episodes form a conventional Five-Episode Pilot, and had a large number of elements (like the character of Lieutenant Lou Rodriguez, who was killed off after his actor expressed displeasure living in Miami and wanted out) that seem odd in comparison to later episodes. Especially the musical montages, which used to take up extended airtime and would occur for the duration of the song instead of a short clip in later episodes and seasons.
Zito and Switek's schemes used to take up entire segments during certain episodes in the first season, but this was eventually minimalized and removed altogether in later seasons.
Several of the early episodes had scenes where the team planned their operations together - later episodes skipped this setup and went directly to the execution of the plan.
The Eighties: Arguably the most influential TV of said decade. Many people's ideas of the 80's come straight from the series (which explains why many people tend to have a rather exaggerated idea of the period — not everybody dressed like the pimps and drug dealers of the series).
What happens to some of the good cops who don't go crooked: they go mad instead.
Partly explains what happens to Crockett when he gets hit with amnesia: his second wife had just been killed by a Serial Killer seeking revenge on Crockett, and the aftershock of what happened made it easy for him to forget when the time came.
Hooker with a Heart of Gold: If the crew isn't bringing down drug dealers, they're investigating sex crimes usually involving prostitutes. Some of their informants on the drug cases are call girls and streetwalkers.
The Informant: Crockett and Tubbs regularly called upon Izzy "The Snitch" Moreno and Neville "Noogie" Lamont to get information on whatever big plot was going down. The two cops treated the latter like some unpleasant form of fungus, while the former was treated like a favored pet. Izzy once even helped the two cops out while Izzy was in the middle of committing another crime (the crime was straight burglary... they're Vice cops... they cut him a break).
Some villains (and some heroes) never answer for the crimes they commit.
William Maynard (played by G. Gordon Liddy) kills Ira Stone and flees Miami - despite Crockett pledging to stop him, he never appears again.
Magical Computer: The crazed ex-cop Hank in "Out Where The Buses Don't Run" works with a computer to track the "missing" drug lord that Hank is obsessed with catching. The computer "Lorraine" (named for Hank's ex-wife) operates with a mind and personality of its own, and does things that computers in 1985 really didn't do.
Mind Screw: The fourth-season episode "Missing Hours", which has Trudy trying to figure out if she's hallucinating UFO's and aliens in the guise of humans.
Moment Killer: In a deleted scene from the pilot, Gina tells Crockett that he whispered "Caroline" (his soon-to-be-ex-wife's name) into her ear during their night together on the boat.
Nice Job Breaking It, Hero: Crockett's investigation of the circumstances behind the death of his former partner in "Forgive Us Our Sins" results in a convicted and scheduled-for-execution killer to be mistakenly freed from Death Row. This comes back to bite him a season when the killer comes back and shoots Crockett's wife, Caitlin, leading to Crockett's breakdown and slide into his alter ego, Burnett.
Only In Miami: Some episodes were loosely based on some of the crazier things that happened in South Florida.
The Other Darrin: Castillo's former wife, May Ying, was played by Joan Chen in "Golden Triangle" and by Rosalind Chao in the season 5 episode "Heart of Night".
Recycled Set: Several locations and buildings reappeared throughout the series' run. Notably, the house seen in "Nobody Lives Forever" (which is owned in the series by Brenda, the architect Crockett is dating) appears again as the location of the climactic cat-and-mouse scene between Crockett and The Shadow in the episode "Shadow in the Dark", two seasons later.
Due to the network switching up the order of certain episodes throughout the series, characters and/or props change their appearance radically from one episode to another.
Infamously, Crockett is driving around in his Ferrari Daytona (and using it for cover in a shootout) in the third-season episode "El Viejo", seven episodes after it was destroyed by an arms dealer and replaced with the Testarossa. This was due to the fact that "El Viejo" was originally planned to be the third-season premiere, but was pushed farther into the season and replaced with a more action-packed opener.
Zito's beard disappears and reappears at random throughout the second season, due to the running order of the episodes being changed.
Take My Hand: In the Burnett arc, Sonny redeems himself to Tubbs by showing up in time to do this.
Titled After the Song: In the middle of the show's first season, former Eagles guitarist Glenn Frey released "Smuggler's Blues", a song about cocaine trafficking. The producers of the show immediately jumped on it, and not only titled the resultant episode "Smuggler's Blues", but they based the storyline on the lyrics of the song and cast Glenn Frey as Jimmy the Bush Pilot.
True Companions: One of the reasons why none of the Miami Vice crew turn corrupt except for when Crockett loses his identity. And even then, the bond of friendship is what brings him back into the fold.
"Golden Triangle, Part 1": What starts out as a typical episode involving a jewellery theft takes a sharp turn and becomes a showcase for Castillo's Hidden Depths, culminating in the most cinematic fight of the series (between Castillo and a suspect) up to that point.
"Sons And Lovers": Tubbs' former love interest, Angelina Calderone, returns - with a baby in tow, and one she says belongs to him. Angelica's brother, also of the Calderone family, comes to Miami looking for revenge...and ends up rigging Angelina to a car bomb that kills her and makes Tubbs think his child has died as well.
"Down For The Count, Part 1": An undercover operation involving a corrupt boxing manager turns horribly tragic when Zito is killed and made to look like he overdosed on drugs.
"Mirror Image", Sonny is caught in a massive explosion that leads to him developing amnesia and slipping into the role of his alter-ego, Sonny Burnett. He turns traitor on the Vice team and begins working for a drug cartel, finally culminating in him shooting Tubbs after the latter tries to reason with him.
Elvis the alligator stops appearing by the fourth season, and is never referenced or seen again, with his fate left unanswered after Crockett quits the force at the end of the series.
Zito's goldfish disappears from the series after his death in "Down for the Count" and never reappears again, despite Crockett and others searching his apartment for clues in the episode after his death occurs.
Bill Smitrovich plays the turncoat detective Scottie Wheeler in the pilot episode and DEA Commander Burr in "The Prodigal Son". Likewise, Martin Ferrero played the assassin Trini Desoto in the pilot and informant Izzy Moreno for the rest of the series.
Miguel Pinero played the druglord (and first Big Bad of the series) Esteban Calderone in the first season, and a member of the Revilla drug cartel in the second-season opener "The Prodigal Son".
Dan Hedaya played an Internal Affairs officer in the first season, and a villain in the second-season episode "Payback".