Trivia / Miami Vice

The TV Show

  • Actor Allusion: Sonny Crockett's pet alligator on the show is named Elvis. Don Johnson played Elvis Presley a few years earlier in the made-for-TV movie Elvis and the Beauty Queen.
  • Actor-Shared Background: Sort of. According to Sonny Crockett's character history he volunteered for military service in Vietnam in the early seventies. This is based on the real actions of Don Johnson who attempted to join the United States Marine Corps around that time. However, unlike Crockett who served a combat tour in Vietnam, Johnson was rejected by the marines due to a criminal conviction for drug possession.
  • Cast the Expert: The Trigger Happy hitman in "The Hit List" was played by their technical advisor, marksman Jim Zubiena.
  • The Character Died with Him: Julian Beck (who played the corrupt stock broker J.J. Johnston in "The Prodigal Son") passed away two weeks before the episode aired.
  • Doing It for the Art: The show's commitment to film-like production quality made it one of the most expensive television series ever produced at the time, with a budget around one million USD per episode. This budget allowed the production to do things such as shoot on-location, repaint and refurnish buildings and vehicles that didn't fit its "no earth tones" color scheme, and license the pop hits used so frequently during the show. Somewhat humorously, the budget for individual episodes exceeded the entire annual budget of the real Miami-Dade Police Vice Unit.
  • Follow the Leader: Competing networks tried to start up their own flashy crime dramas. The only one to survive more than three episodes was 21 Jump Street.
  • Hostility on the Set: Don Johnson and Edward James Olmos often argued during the first season due to their different acting styles. Olmos used his anger towards Johnson for his character in their scenes together. In some episodes, Lt. Castillo never looks at Crockett at all.
  • The Movie: The first five episodes were edited together and released on video as Miami Vice: The Movie. A later story arc was released in the same way and entitled Miami Vice II: The Prodigal Son.
  • Old Shame: Edward James Olmos all but pretends his time on the show didn't happen, despite winning an Emmy and a Golden Globe for his performance as Lieutenant Castillo.
  • 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."
  • Real Life Writes the Plot: Crockett's Ferrari Daytona which he drove for the first two seasons was actually a mock-up frame built over another car's chassis to cut costs. Enzo Ferrari himself became so angry about how much attention this fake Ferrari was getting that he sued the showrunners over it. He offered to settle and provide a genuine Ferrari to be used in the filming on the condition that Crockett's old car was removed from the series. This led to a memorable scene in the third season where an undercover Crockett insults the equipment an arms dealer (played by Jeff Fahey) is selling, who then responds by demonstrating a rocket launcher on Crockett's car.
  • 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.
  • The Red Stapler:
    • While initially leery of the show's focus on crime, Miami tourism officials credit the series for transforming the impression of the city from a retirement community to a fun and exciting place for young people to visit.
    • The general rule while the show was airing was that if Crockett wore it or drove it, it would become wildly popular.
  • Referenced by...: For X-Men: Apocalypse, James McAvoy has said in numerous interviews that Charles' suits were ripped off from the iconic outfits worn by Detective James "Sonny" Crockett. Don Johnson's wardrobe ignited a fashion trend in the mid-'80s, and since Apocalypse takes place in 1983, one year before Miami Vice's debut, it appears that Xavier was ahead of his time style-wise. Michael Fassbender mentions that Erik Lehnsherr has a suit which was inspired by Detective Ricardo "Rico" Tubbs, Crockett's partner.
  • Screwed by the Network: During the third season, the show was moved to air opposite Dallas. This proved to be a poor move, as Dallas swiftly overtook the show in ratings. And then Miami Vice was moved to Sundays and ratings were sent into a further downward spiral. Adding insult to injury, the network proceeded to "burn off" four Season 5 episodes just before the series finale, and these episodes would not be broadcast until a year later.
  • Technology Marches On: The "cutting-edge" technology seen is quite funny to look at in retrospect. Sonny Crockett and Ricardo Tubbs have to pose as undercover drug dealers for the purposes of their job, and subsequently have access to all the latest tools and technology. The series establishes this early on in the third episode, with a scene shot solely to emphasize the fact that Crockett has a car phone (and the receiver looks like a giant brick).
  • Throw It In: Olmos has said in interviews that, in a deliberate effort to subvert the usual Da Chief cliches, his very first line as Castillo was an ad-lib.
  • Underage Casting: Helena Bonham-Carter was twenty when she played a doctor who was supposed to be about thirty. At the time, she looked like she was twelve.
  • Unintentional Period Piece: The series exemplified some of the most prevalent trends of the era (and created several of them), including a heavy focus on synth-rock and popular songs of the time, the usage of pastel colors in their clothing and many instances of Technology Marches On. One could likely fill an entire page detailing all the dated examples found throughout the series.
    • The second season opener, "The Prodigal Son", is of particular note. Among other things, it has music from Billy Ocean and Huey Lewis and the News, a woman wearing a dress with massive shoulder pads and a climax that takes place at the World Trade Center.
    • However the tone of the show averts the trope. Most cop shows of the era had a light tone, villain of the week, flat characters, always get their guy, etc. Miami Vice had some very slow pacing for the time, story arcs which could last all or part of a season, lots of character development, and often bittersweet or downer endings. Its grim tone was much more in line with current shows like Breaking Bad, The Closer, etc.
  • What Could Have Been:
    • The initial conception of the show started as a feature film titled "Gold Coast". When it was decided to make it a television series instead, the name still stuck for a bit before being titled "Miami Vice".
    • Richard Dean Anderson, Jeff Bridges, Nick Nolte and Mickey Rourke were considered for Sonny Crockett. Don Johnson was nearly turned down for the part due to being involved in four failed pilots in a row prior to this show.
    • Denzel Washington was considered for Ricardo Tubbs.
    • Glenn Frey was originally set to reprise his role as Jimmy the pilot (from "Smuggler's Blues") in the episode "Trust Fund Pirates," but scheduling issues resulted in his character being replaced by a fellow pilot who had taken over Jimmy's hangar.
    • The third-season opener ("When Irish Eyes Are Smiling") was intended to be a two-hour special, similar to the second-season premiere "The Prodigal Son," and would have had Crockett and Tubbs travel to Ireland to deal with a religious terrorist.
    • Dennis Hopper was supposed to guest star in "Out Where the Buses Don't Run", but dropped out due to monetary issues.
  • Working Title: The show was originally to be called Gold Coast (as shown in advance TV promos), but with the characters shouting "Miami Vice!" so much in the show, it seemed a better choice for the title.
  • You Look Familiar:
    • Bill Smitrovich plays the turncoat detective Scottie Wheeler in the pilot episode and DEA Commander Burr in "The Prodigal Son".
    • 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".

The Movie

  • Fake Nationality: Irishman Ciarán Hinds as the presumably Japanese-American FBI Agent John Fujima.
  • Old Shame: Colin Farrell admits that he doesn't like the film very much. He told Total Film:
    "I didn't like it so much - I thought it was style over substance and I accept a good bit of the responsibility. It was never going to be Lethal Weapon, but I think we missed an opportunity to have a friendship that also had some elements of fun".
  • Troubled Production:
    • Between when he was cast and the start of production, Jamie Foxx won an Oscar, greatly increasing his ego and his demands. He got way more money, so much that Farrell had to take a slight pay cut and causing a great deal of tension between the two (who, remember, are supposed to be playing partners). He then began refusing to fly commercial, making the studio pay for a private jet for him (sometimes flying him as far as Uruguay). Then he wouldn't do scenes on boats or planes.
    • Not all the trouble was caused by human frailties. Shooting in and around the Caribbean during the now-legendary 2005 hurricane season led to a week of delays by the end of production. This is blamed for driving the film's final budget over $100 million; exactly how much is disputed.
    • A week, all told, may not have been as bad as a delay as what could have happened, since many crew members complained that Mann insisted on shooting in unsafe weather. And shooting in dangerous, crime-ridden areas. At one location it was so bad the police wouldn't go there, so the production hired local gang members as security.
    • On top of all this, Mann would often make major rewrites of the script without advance notice. Cast and crew had to scramble to keep up and adapt.
    • All these things came to a head late in filming when, at one rough location in the Dominican Republic, actual gunfire was exchanged on set. Foxx immediately went to his plane and flew back to the U.S. He told the studio he was not going to any more overseas locations for the production. Mann had to rewrite the ending as a result, reportedly making it less dramatic than he had wanted.
  • What Could Have Been:
    • After a shooting incident on the Dominican Republic set of the film, Jamie Foxx packed up and left, refusing to work outside the US. This forced a complete rewrite of the film's ending. While one crew member publicly stated that the revised ending was "much less dramatic," Mann, who had written endings for both Miami and Paraguay considered it to be better because it "brought all the conflicting characters together in one arena."
    • Olmos was offered the chance to reprise his role as Castillo in the 2006 film, but was busy filming Battlestar Galactica (2003) at the time.
    • Tom Cruise, Brad Pitt and Matthew McConaughey were all considered for Sonny Crockett.
    • Will Smith, Denzel Washington, and Samuel L. Jackson were considered for the role of Ricardo Tubbs.
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