Synopsis by Hal Erickson
Miami Vice has been described as "the first cop show for the MTV generation." Brilliantly capturing the mood, the style, the rhythm, the pulsations, the bright electric colors, and the garish glitz of the early '80s, the weekly, 60-minute series was just a much an elongated music video (with a Jan Hammer score) as it was a crime drama -- and it set the standard for the scores of copycat series that followed in its wake. Set in (where else?) Miami, the series starred Don Johnson and Philip Michael Thomas as hard-nosed Miami-Dade PD vice detectives Sonny Crockett and Ricardo Tubbs. Crockett was a Ferrari-driving fashion trendsetter (how many millions of the series' young male fans emulated Sonny's no-socks, no-shave "look"?), who lived on a sailboat called St. Vitus' Dance with his pet gator, Elvis. Tubbs hailed from New York, and had come to Florida to track down the drug dealer responsible for his brother's murder. Like most such salt-and-pepper TV detective teams, Crockett and Tubbs did not always see eye to eye on details and procedure, but when they worked together as undercover cops in the sleazy underbelly of the Florida resort community, they almost invariably got results. And the criminal element -- which on this series consisting primarily of drug lords, white slavers, and illicit arms traders -- was well advised to stay out of their way. Though Sonny and Ricardo were pretty much the whole show, a few supporting characters were also worth noting, especially Edward James Olmos as the boys' mercurial superior officer Lt. Martin Castillo, Olivia Brown and Saundra Santiago as feisty female cops Trudy Joplin and Gina Navarro, and John Diehl as Larry Zito, Crockett and Tubbs' obligatory "orthodox" co-worker Calabrese. Making occasional appearances were Belinda Montgomery as Sonny's ex-wife, Caroline, and Sheena Easton as wife number two (albeit briefly), Caitlin Davies. Except for a short 1988 story arc in which an amnesiac Sonny assumed his "undercover" identity as drug dealer Sonny Burnett, things moved at a steady and reliable clip throughout the series' four-season run. Maybe it is true that series producer Michael Mann favored style over substance -- but what style! Miami Vice was seen on NBC from September 16, 1984, to July 26, 1989.
police-detective, drug-lord, investigation, murder