Miami Vice is an American television series produced by Michael Mann for NBC. The show became noted for its heavy integration and use of music and visual effects to tell a story. The series starred Don Johnson and Phillip Michael Thomas as two Metro-Dade Police detectives working undercover in Miami. It ran for five seasons on NBC from 1984–1989. The USA Network would later broadcast an unaired episode during its syndication run of the series on January 25, 1990.
Unlike standard police procedurals, the show drew heavily upon 1980s New Wave culture and music. It is recognized as one of the most influential television series of all time. People Magazine stated that Miami Vice "was the first show to look really new and different since color TV was invented." The series currently airs on the Sleuth network in the United States, MBC Action in the Arab World, Men & Motors in the United Kingdom and TV7 in Bulgaria. As of February 2008, NBC has begun to post Miami Vice episodes online every Wednesday, with the option to download for a fee.
Michael Mann went on to direct a film adaptation of the television series, which was released on July 28, 2006.
The choice of music and cinematography borrowed heavily from the emerging New Wave culture of the 1980s. As such, segments of each episode of Miami Vice resemble a protracted music video. As Lee H. Katzin, one of the show's directors, remarked, "The show is written for an MTV audience, which is more interested in images, emotions and energy than plot and character and words." These elements made the series into an instant hit, and in its first season saw an unprecedented 15 Emmy Award nominations. While the first few episodes contain elements of a standard police procedural, the producers soon abandoned them in favor of a more distinctive style. Of the many different production aspects of the show, "no earth tones" were allowed to be used. A director of Miami Vice, Bobby Roth, recalled:
Miami Vice is to some degree credited with causing a wave of support for the preservation of Miami's famous Art Deco architecture in the mid-to-late 1980s; quite a few of those buildings (among them many beachfront hotels) have been renovated since filming, making that part of South Beach one of South Florida's most popular places for tourists and celebrities.
Miami Vice is noted for its innovative use of music, particularly countless pop and rock hits of the 1980s and the distinctive, synthesized instrumental music of Jan Hammer. While other television shows utilized made-for-TV music, Miami Vice would spend $10,000 or more per episode to buy the rights to original recordings. Getting your song played on Miami Vice was a boost to record labels and artists. In fact newspaper, such as USA Today, would let readers know the songs that would be featured that week. Among the many well-known bands and artists who contributed their music to the show were a-ha, Devo, Jackson Browne, Meat Loaf, Phil Collins, Bryan Adams, Tina Turner, Peter Gabriel, ZZ Top, Dire Straits, Depeche Mode, The Hooters, Iron Maiden, Godley and Creme, Cory Hart, Glenn Frey, U2, Frankie Goes to Hollywood, Foreigner, The Police, Red 7, Laura Branigan, Ted Nugent, Suicidal Tendencies, The Damned, and Billy Idol. Several artists even guest-starred in episodes, including Phil Collins, Miles Davis, The Power Station, Glenn Frey, Willie Nelson, Ted Nugent, Frank Zappa, and Sheena Easton. An iconic scene from Miami Vice involves Crockett and Tubbs driving through Miami at night to Phil Collins' hit song "In the Air Tonight". A later hit by Collins, "Take Me Home", was used in the premiere of the show's second season, and the Genesis (band) track Land of Confusion was used in the series' finale episode "Freefall". Jan Hammer credits executive producer Michael Mann for allowing him great creative freedom in underscoring Miami Vice. The collaboration resulted in memorable instrumental pieces, including the show's title theme, which climbed to the top of the U.S. Billboard charts in November 1985, the first television show theme to do so since Peter Gunn; No television theme nor instrumental track have ascended to the top of the Billboard singles chart since. The Miami Vice original soundtrack, featuring Jan Hammer's #1 hit theme song and Glenn Frey's "You Belong to the City" (a #2 hit), stayed on the top of the U. S. album chart for 11 weeks in 1985, making it the most successful TV soundtrack at the time. The Miami Vice Theme was so popular that is also garnered two Grammy awards in 1986. "Crockett's Theme", another recurring tune from the show, became a #1 hit in several European countries in 1987.
During the show's run, three official soundtrack albums with original music from the episodes were released. Hammer has released several albums with music from the series; among them are Escape from Television (1987), Snapshots (1989) and, after countless requests from loyal fans, Miami Vice: The Complete Collection (2002).
The clothes worn on Miami Vice had a significant influence on men's fashion. They popularized, if not invented, the "T-shirt under Armani jacket"-style, and popularized Italian men's fashion in the United States. Don Johnson's typical lineup of Italian sport coat, T-shirt, white linen pants, and slip-on sockless loafers became a hit. Even Crockett's perpetually unshaven appearance sparked a minor fashion trend, inspiring men to wear a small amount of beard stubble, also known as a five o'clock shadow (or "designer stubble") at all times. On an average episode, Crockett and Tubbs wore five to eight different outfits, appearing in shades of pink, blue, green, peach, fuchsia and the show's other "approved" colors. Designers such as Vittorio Ricci, Gianni Versace, and Hugo Boss were consulted in keeping the male leads looking trendy. Costume designer Bambi Breakstone, who traveled to Milan, Paris, and London in search of new clothes, testified that, "The concept of the show is to be on top of all the latest fashion trends in Europe". Jodi Tillen, the costume designer for the first season, along with Michael Mann set the stylistic agenda. The abundance of pastel colors on the show was reflected in Miami's Art-deco architecture.
During its five-year run, consumer demand for unconstructed blazers, shiny fabric jackets, and lighter pastels increased. After Six formal wear even created a line of Miami Vice dinner jackets, Kenneth Cole introduced Crockett and Tubbs shoes, and Macy's opened a Miami Vice section in its young men's department. Crockett also boosted Ray Ban's popularity by wearing a pair of Ray-Ban Wayfarer (Model L2052, Mock Tortoise), which increased sales of Ray Ban's to 720,000 units in 1984. In the spring of 1986, an electric razor became available called the Stubble Device, that allowed users to have a beard like Don Johnson's character. Initially, it was named the Miami Device by Wahl Clipper Corp., but in the end the company wanted to avoid a trademark infringement lawsuit from the show's producers and opted to change the name of the device. Many of the styles popularized by the TV show, such as the t-shirt under pastel suits, no socks, rolled up sleeves, and Ray-Ban sunglasses, have today become the standard image of 1980s culture. The influence of Miami Vice's fashions continued into the early 1990s, and to some extent still persists today.
Miami Vice also popularized certain brands of firearms and accessories. Galco International named its gun holster the "Miami Classic" following its use by Don Johnson on the show. After Johnson became dissatisfied with his gun holster, the Jackass Leather Company (later renamed Galco International) sent their president, Rick Gallagher, to personally fit Don Johnson with an "Original Jackass Rig", which would later be renamed the Galco "Miami Classic".
The Bren Ten, manufactured by Dornaus & Dixon, was a stainless-steel handgun used by Don Johnson during Miami Vice's first season. It remained Crockett's sidearm throughout season two, until Dornaus & Dixon went out of business in 1986. Smith & Wesson was offered a contract to outfit Johnson's character with a S&W Model 645 during season three.
Two automobiles became very noteworthy during Miami Vice; the Ferrari Daytona and Testarossa. During the first two seasons and two episodes of the third season, Detective Sonny Crockett drove a black 1972 Ferrari Daytona Spyder 365 GTS/4. Actually, the car was not a Ferrari, but a kit replica based on a 1980 Chevrolet Corvette C3 chassis. The car was fitted with Ferrari-shaped body panels by specialty car manufacturer McBurnie. Once the car gained notoriety, Enzo Ferrari filed a lawsuit demanding that McBurnie and others cease producing and selling Ferrari replicas, because they were taking his name and styling. As a result, the vehicle lasted until season 3, at which point it was blown to pieces in the season three premiere episode, "When Irish Eyes Are Crying". The fake Ferraris were removed from the show, with Enzo Ferrari donating two brand new 1986 Testarossas as replacements.
Carl Roberts, who had previously worked on the Daytona kitcars, offered to build the stunt car. Roberts decided to use 1972 De Tomaso Pantera, which had the same wheelbase as the Testarossa and thus was perfect for the body pieces. The vehicle was modified to withstand daily usage on-set, and continued to be driven until the series ended. While Miami Vice did receive two new Ferraris, it also used a third Testarossa, which was the stunt car.
Crockett's partner, Ricardo Tubbs, drives a 1963 Cadillac Coupe de Ville Convertible. Stan Switek drove a turquoise 1963 Ford Thunderbird. Gina Calabrese drove an 1971 Mercury Cougar XR-7 convertible. When Stan and Larry were undercover, they drove a Dodge Ram Van. Other notable vehicles that appeared in Miami Vice included, brands such as Lamborghini, AMG Mercedes-Benz, BMW, Maserati, Lotus, DeLorean, Porsche, and Corvettes. American muscle cars, such as the GTO, Trans Am, Mustang, Chevrolet Camaro, or a Plymouth Barracuda also made appearances.
Throughout the entire series, Sonny Crockett lived on an Endeavour 42 sailboat named the St. Vitus' Dance (in the pilot episode, he is seen on an Endeavor 40). Crockett also pilots a 39 foot Chris Craft Stinger 390 in the first season, and a Wellcraft 38 Scarab KV for the remainder of the show. The Scarab 38 KV was a 28-hued, twin 440-hp boat that sold for $130,000 in 1986.
As a result of the attention the Scarab 38 KV garnered on Miami Vice, Wellcraft received "an onslaught of orders", increasing sales by 21% in one year alone. In appreciation, Wellcraft gave Don Johnson an exact duplicate of the boat as a gift. Afterward, Johnson was frequently seen arriving to work in it.
In total, six real-life Scarab 38KV TV-boats were built, including the one given to Don Johnson. The latter boat has been confiscated twice by the IRS in Finland and currently is restored by a caring owner. Three others are located in New Jersey, (2nd season boat) "the Camera boat" in Norway, and the last one, which can only be seen for one still clip during the 5th season, is currently in Germany. Altogether, 100 copies of the boat (dubbed the "Scarab 38KV Miami Vice Edition") were built by Wellcraft. The Miami Vice graphics could also have been ordered on any other Scarab from 20-38 feet. Don Johnson also designed the 43 ft Scarab Don Johnson Signature Series, and he raced a similar one.
Episode scripts were loosely based on actual crimes that occurred in Miami over the years. (Example: "Out Where the Buses Don't Run", 1985.) During its course, the series also took a look at controversial political issues like the Northern Ireland conflict, the drug war in South America (e.g. "Prodigal Son"), several episodes drawn on the Miami River Cops scandal (a real police corruption ring that involved narcotic thefts, drug dealing and murders), as well as several episodes Cuban exile guerrillas and drug trafficking, U.S. support of anti-communist generals and dictators in Southeast Asia and South America, regardless of their human rights records.
Personal issues also arose: Crockett divorced from his wife Caroline (Belinda Montgomery) early in the series, and later his second wife Caitlin Davies (Sheena Easton) was killed by one of his enemies. In the three episodes "Mirror Image", "Hostile Takeover," and "Redemption in Blood", a concussion caused by an explosion caused Crockett to believe he was his undercover alter ego Sonny Burnett, a drug dealer. Tubbs had a running, partly personal vendetta with the Calderone family, a member of which had ordered the death of his brother Rafael, a New York City police detective.
In the first seasons the tone was often very light, especially when comical characters such as Noogie (Charlie Barnett) and Izzy (Martin Ferrero) appeared. Later on, the content was almost always quite dark and cynical, with Crockett and Tubbs also having to fight corruption. Typically the darker episodes had no denouement, each episode ending abruptly immediately after a climax that almost always involved violence and death, often giving the episodes, especially in later seasons, a despairing and sometimes nihilistic feel despite the trademark glamour and conspicuous wealth. Given its idiosyncratic "dark" feel and touch, Miami Vice is frequently cited as an example of made-for-TV Neo-noir. Michael Mann, who served as executive producer for the majority of the show's five-year run, is often credited with being one of the most influential Neo-noir directors.
Michael Mann's decision to give the show a darker, grittier look, feel and touch — a definite change from the often lighthearted tone of the first two seasons — that involved darker, non-pastel wardrobes for the protagonists. Loyal fans were miffed at the series' new look and began to turn away, which led to the reintroduction of pastels for the fourth season (1987–1988).
The original writers for the series left by the fourth season. There was a love affair between Sonny Crockett (Don Johnson) and Caitlin Davies (Sheena Easton), and a plot with Crockett getting amnesia (in which he mistakes himself for his drug dealer alter- ego, and becomes a hitman). Jan Hammer departed from the series at the end of the fourth season. Tim Truman became his successor, but to many fans, it meant a farewell to yet another idiosyncratic element of the show's style. And thus production costs per episode increased, popularity and revenue plummeted.
Michael Mann handed the role of executive producer to Dick Wolf prior to the beginning of the third season (1986-1987). Wolf had the show focus on real-life issues like the problems in Northern Ireland. Michael Mann left to focus working on his new television series, Crime Story. The fifth season (1988–1989) took the show on a more serious tone, with storylines becoming dark and gritty — enough so that even some of the most loyal fans were left scratching their heads. As the fifth season began, Olivia Brown recalled, "The show was trying to reinvent itself. Dick Wolf recalls in an interview for E! True Hollywood Story, after the fifth season, it was all just "...kind of over", and that the show had simply "run its course".
Many notable actors, actresses, musicians, comedians, athletes, celebrities, appeared through out the shows five season run. They played many different roles from drug dealer to undercover cops to madams. The full list can be seen at the link above, as this is just a partial list. Notable musicians include Sheena Easton, Willie Nelson, Gene Simmons, and Ted Nugent Additionally Glenn Frey, Frank Zappa, Phil Collins, Miles Davis, Frankie Valli, Little Richard, James Brown, Leonard Cohen, the band Power Station, and Eartha Kitt.
Other notable personalities included auto executive Lee Iacocca and Watergate conspirator G. Gordon Liddy. Athletes included legendary Boston Celtics center Bill Russell, Bernard King, Racecar driver Danny Sullivan, and boxers Roberto Durán, and Randall "Tex" Cobb.
Most of the show involved guest appearances from up-and-coming actors and actresses. They include: Dennis Farina, Stanley Tucci, Jimmy Smits, Bruce McGill, David Strathairn, Ving Rhames, Liam Neeson, Lou Diamond Phillips, Bruce Willis, Ed O'Neill, and Julia Roberts. Additionally Michael Madsen, Ian McShane, Bill Paxton, Luis Guzmán, Kyra Sedgwick, Esai Morales, Terry O'Quinn, Wesley Snipes, John Turturro, and Melanie Griffith to name a few.
|1985||Nominated||Emmy Awards||Outstanding Writing in a Drama Series||Anthony Yerkovich|
|Winner||Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Drama Series||Edward James Olmos|
|Nominated||Outstanding Lead Actor in a Drama Series||Don Johnson|
|Winner||Outstanding Film Sound Editing for a Series||Bruce Bell, Sound Editor; Jerry Sanford Cohen, Music Editor; Victor B. Lackey, Sound Editor; Ian MacGregor-Scott, Sound Editor; Carl Mahakian, Sound Editor; Chuck Moran, Supervising Sound Editor; John Oettinger, Sound Editor; Bernie Pincus, Sound Editor; Warren Smith, Sound Editor; Bruce Stambler, Sound Editor; Mike Wilhoit, Sound Editor; Paul Wittenberg, ADR Editor; Kyle Wright, Sound Editor|
|Nominated||Outstanding Film Sound Editing for a Series||Jerry Sanford Cohen, Music Editor; Scott Hecker, Sound Editor; John A. Larsen, Supervising Sound Editor; Harry B. Miller, III, Sound Editor; Robert Rutledge, Sound Editor; Norto Sepulveda, ADR Editor; Gary Vaughan, Sound Editor; Jay Wilkinson, Sound Editor|
|Nominated||Outstanding Film Editing for a Series||Robert A. Daniels, Editor|
|Nominated||Outstanding Film Editing for a Series||Michael B. Hoggan|
|Nominated||Outstanding Drama Series||Richard Brams, Co-Producer; George E. Crosby, Co-Producer; Michael Mann, Executive Producer; John Nicolella, Supervising Producer; John Nicolella, Producer; Liam O'Brien, Supervising Producer; Mel Swope, Producer; Anthony Yerkovich, Executive Producer|
|Nominated||Outstanding Directing in a Drama Series||Lee H. Katzin, Director|
|Nominated||Outstanding Directing in a Drama Series||Paul Michael Glaser, Director|
|Nominated||Outstanding Costume Design for a Series||Jodie Tillen, Costume Designer|
|Winner||Outstanding Cinematography for a Series||Bob Collins, Cinematographer|
|Nominated||Outstanding Cinematography for a Series||A.J. "Duke" Callaghan, Cinematographer|
|Winner||Outstanding Art Direction for a Series||Jeffrey Howard, Art Director; Robert Lacey|
|Nominated||Outstanding Achievement in Music Composition for a Series (dramatic underscore)||Jan Hammer, Composer|
|Winner||Grammy Awards||Best Pop Instrumental Performance (Orchestra, Group Or Soloist) - "Miami Vice Theme"||Jan Hammer, artist|
|Winner||Best Instrumental Composition - "Miami Vice Theme"||Jan Hammer, composer|
|Winner||Favorite: New TV Dramatic Program||Miami Vice|
|1986||Winner||Favorite: TV Dramatic Program||Miami Vice|
|Nominated||Emmy Awards||Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Drama Series||Edward James Olmos|
|Nominated||Outstanding Sound Mixing for a Drama Series||Rick Alexander; Anthony Costantini, Sound Mixer; Daniel Leahy, Sound Mixer; Mike Tromer, Sound Mixer|
|Nominated||Outstanding Editing for a Series (single camera production)||Robert A. Daniels, Editor|
|Nominated||Outstanding Achievement in Music Composition for a Series (dramatic underscore)||Jan Hammer, Composer|
|Winner||Golden Globe Awards||Best Performance by an Actor in a Supporting Role in a Series, Mini-Series or Motion Picture Made for Television||Edward James Olmos|
|Nominated||Best Performance by an Actor In A Television Series - Drama||Philip Michael Thomas|
|Winner||Best Performance by an Actor In A Television Series - Drama||Don Johnson|
|Nominated||Best Television Series - Drama||Miami Vice|
|1987||Nominated||Best Performance by an Actor In A Television Series - Drama||Don Johnson|
|Nominated||Best Television Series - Drama||Miami Vice|
|1988||Nominated||Emmy Awards||Outstanding Sound Mixing for a Drama Series||Joe Citarella, Sound Mixer; Joe Foglia, Sound Mixer; Grover Helsley, Sound Mixer; Ray West, Sound Mixer|
|1989||Nominated||Golden Globe Awards||Best Performance by an Actor in a Supporting Role in a Series, Mini-Series or Motion Picture Made for Television||Edward James Olmos|
At the 1985 Emmy Awards Miami Vice was nominated for 15 Emmy Awards, including "Outstanding Writing in a Dramatic Series", "Outstanding Film Editing", "Outstanding Achievement for Music Composition for a series (dramatic underscore)", and "Outstanding Directing". At the end of the night, Miami Vice only won four Emmys. The following day, the Los Angeles Herald-Examiner could only conclude that the conservative Emmy voters (at the Academy of Television Arts & Sciences) simply refused to recognize an innovative new series that celebrated hedonism, violence, sex, and drugs.
Miami Vice was one ground breaking police programs of the 1980s, and one of the best-known shows of the 1980s. It had a huge impact on the decade's popular fashions as well as setting the tone for further evolution of police drama. Series such as Homicide: Life on the Street, NYPD Blue, and Law & Order, though being vastly different in style and theme from Miami Vice, followed its lead in breaking the genre's mold; Dick Wolf, creator & producer of Law & Order, was a writer & later executive producer of Miami Vice. Although sometimes heavily disputed by their producers, the movies Bad Boys (1995) and Bad Boys 2 (2003) borrowed heavily on the concept of two undercover cops in the glitzy, upscale yet seedy world of South Florida law enforcement.
The show has been so influential that the style of Miami Vice has often been borrowed or alluded to by much of today's pop culture in order to indicate or emphasize the 1980s decade. Its influence as a popular culture icon is still seen today, more than 20 years after appearing. Examples of this includes the episode "The One With All The Thanksgivings" from the American sitcom Friends. Flashback scenes from the 1980s in this episode shows the characters Ross and Chandler in pastel colored suits with rolled up sleeves like that of Sonny Crockett. Another more obvious example would be the computer and video game Grand Theft Auto: Vice City, which was published by Rockstar Games and is set in a stylized 1980s Miami. Two undercover police officers appear in a police sports car within the game when three felony stars are obtained by the player. It is believed that the two officers (one white and one black) represent the two leading characters of Miami Vice. One of the main characters, Lance Vance, was actually voiced by Philip Michael Thomas. In the prequel, Grand Theft Auto: Vice City Stories, there are two officers in the multiplayer mode named Cracker and Butts a parody of Crockett and Tubbs; these characters share the same role as the undercover cops in Vice City
Many of the styles popularized by the TV show, such as the t-shirt under pastel suits, no socks, rolled up sleeves, and Rayban sunglasses have today become the standard image of 1980s culture. Ironically, people today will often recognize the decade's image, yet are unfamiliar with the TV show, despite it being the phenomenon that gave birth to the style in the first place.
However, it must be noted that pastels and the fashion accessories mentioned above were not emblematic of the entire decade, but that they stood for an era during the mid-eighties which lasted approximately two to four years. With the show's popularity notably waning around 1988 and different color schemes being adopted by the producers for the third season (1986–1987), "Vice"-themed, pastel-toned clothing went out of style, and fashion in general saw a departure from pastels and linen suits with the advent of bright, harsh neon colors, which became the next fad towards the onset of the 1990s. Likewise, the early 1980s were much more about earthtones in fashion and style.
The show also had a lasting impact on Miami itself. It sparked a revitalization of the South Beach district of Miami Beach, as well as other portions of the Miami area, and increased tourism and investment. The fact that Crockett and Tubbs were Dade County officers and not City of Miami police represented the growing notion of metro government in Miami. In 1997, a county referendum changed the name from Dade County to Miami-Dade County. This allowed people to relate the county government to recognized notions and images of Miami, many of which were first popularized by Miami Vice. The Dade County Sheriff's Office (which had changed its name to Metro-Dade Police department prior to the show) now became the Miami-Dade Police Department.
Universal Studios Home Entertainment has released all Miami Vice seasons on DVD for regions 1, 2, and 4. Seasons 1 & 2 were released in 2005, and seasons 3 through 5 were released in 2007. The DVD release of the series had been significantly slow due to one of the signature features of the show: the heavy integration of 1980s pop & rock music. The music was difficult to source the rights to and acquire permission to use. In the November 2004 announcement for the DVD release of the series, Universal promised that all original music in the series would be intact. On August 21, 2007 Universal announced the November 13, 2007 release of the complete series, with all five seasons on 27 single-sided DVDs. The seasons will be in their own Digipak-style cases, and the set is housed in a faux alligator-skin package. Seasons 1 & 2 will contain six single-sided discs, rather than the three double-sided discs in the initial release.
|Title||Region 1||Region 2||Region 4||Special Featues|
|Season One||February 8, 2005||April 25, 2005||July 13, 2005||"The Vibe of Vice", "Building the Perfect Vice",|
"Building the Perfect Vice", "The Music of Vice",
"Miami After Vice"
|Season Two||November 22, 2005||July 24, 2006||July 20, 2006||-|
|Season Three||March 20, 2007||May 14, 2007||July 5, 2007||-|
|Season Four||March 20, 2007||August 13, 2007||December 4, 2007||-|
|Season Five||June 26, 2007||December 26, 2007||TBA||-|
|Seasons One & Two||N/A||November 27, 2006||N/A||N/A|
|The Complete Series||November 13, 2007||October 8, 2007||TBA||"The Vibe of Vice", "Building the Perfect Vice",|
"Building the Perfect Vice", "The Music of Vice",
"Miami After Vice"