Crocket in my office”, “growing up thinking they can get away with murder and so far they have.”
This t.v. show still holds up. It shaped my life real time in the awesome eighties. MTV cops on a NBC 10pm. friday night line up. In fifth grade it was my Friday night, watching Miami Vice by myself or with my little brother or friends. This series, which I liken to Scarface the t.v. Show, was revolutionary in a multitude of ways. For me then as it is now it was all about the bad guys. The villains made that show pop. Do not get me wrong Don Johnson as Sunny Crocket taught me how to talk tough, fall in love with the wrong women and drink like a fish. His I don’t give a fu#k attitude still serves me to this day. It was the drug-dealing 80’s narco-dons that made the show hum. Artsy drug war propaganda aside, the show had an point to make that Jan Hammer hooked up with evocative tracks. The sheer swagger versus fake cop bluff swagger makes it entertaining and educational. Scarface the movie put Miami on the map, like the final destination of a load of Peruvian Flake. The Panamanian shrimpers ,were off-loading to the go fast boats throughout the 80’s.
This show is our generations cowboy. We get our swagger from drug-dealers. There is even an episode called “ the Maze” where they go out of there way to kind of belittle the name Escobar. As a ten year old kid I was hooked. The action, the music, the girls, and the kilos made that show click. Showing that much weight, riding dirty was what it was always about. Living large with the Mac 10 ‘s to back your play. The socio-political statements about Reagan’s Illuminati drug war are biting and deep in a stylized nuanced way. It was fun , but deadly. Scarface was a sleeper hit the same way Miami Vice is enjoying syndication success right now. Drug-dealers doing it in a stylish way is voyeuristic crack. The Heaven or Hell razors edge that the characters walked, all deep narc, undercover, bull-sh#tting their whole existence. How could you not pull for the bad guys a little bit. Especially when they were played by the upcoming, before they were stars ass motherfu#kers. A Who’s who of Hollywood stars popped their cherries on this cutting edge show. For example Frank Zappa played an interesting drug-dealer that called coke weasel dust.
This show was important in a multitude of ways. The narcotic cool style, the social commentary, the story-telling. Before El Chapo we had Calderone, the show was ahead of it’s time. The power of the acting is still riveting. As every true Miami Vice fan knows, you start out liking Crocket and you end up liking Tubbs. All of Tubb’s girlfriends get killed, you have to feel for the guy. This show went out of the way to co-op the drug-dealers cool and adhere that to the undercover cop. Make the cop as cool as the drug-dealer. N.B.C. Executives in the eighties wanted MTV Cops and they got them. With a scorching sound track provided by a who’s who of eighties recording artists, this show had style. The mood music of Vice was provided by Jan Hammer and he takes it there. He was such a good choice and did such an iconic job, that he was brought out of mothballs to score “Raconteur’s” Cocaine Cowboys movie. This show was a lot to handle as a kid, and I appreciate different aspects of it as an adult. Culturally the show is a time capsule for the eighties. The cameos alone make it worth a watch, whether it is Frank Zappa as a reclusive weasel dust dealer, or Miles Davis as a soft talking ex-pimp. The use of every character actor from “Scarface” as a kingpins, as well as a lot of the actors from “the Warriors” makes watching Miami Vice a love letter to the era.
The intellectual spirit behind Vice seems to be a reaction to the Reagan Drug War. The themes of the show are still current now. It was the kind of show that you watched for the bad guys. The villians made the show. The way they would end shows with an artsy question mark was revolutionary. The show had so much swagger. You were expected to believe that these cops were so slick , on so much A-Team jazz, that they could bull-shit there way through any situation. They stare down death, bluffing their way to another high volume bust. The pokerface lesson taught to unsuspecting drug-dealers left and right. Watch out for undercovers that have all the right answers and are too cool for school. I really wonder how many undercover cops got killed trying to be slick like Crocket and Tubbs. You know it happened. The show glamorized the fast dope life, even the cops got to enjoy it. For kids growing up poor the message was clear, dope equals money. The women, the cars, the lethal power, and the cash all prizes to be won at the end of the game. The dope game and ganster rap all filter from the Miami Vice stream. The influence on popular culture and the audaciousness of the message would not be fully known until much later. History has taught us that the show was a head of it’s time. The story-telling techniques utilized would influence later shows. The use of the montage with pop music was almost art house in it’s production. This show is gloriously dated but still holds up after all these years. The cop show genre would never be the same, the show had the coolest cops since Starsky and Hutch. It is worth noting that the actor who played Starsky (Paul-Michael Glazer) directed multiple vice episodes. There are other similarities like the recurring snitch character who bails them out. Huggybear and Izzy snitches cut from the same comic relief cloth. Two decades linked with plainclothed cops and the snitches who made their cases as they drove around in fancy cars.