The Good

The Bad

Okay...

This isn’t going to be a typical DVD review. I say this because I am reviewing Miami Vice: Season One. Now, why does this title get different treatment then all the others?

Allow me to explain.

In the course of my life, I have done different things to make money. Different sorts of jobs. I am currently working as a writer for this great website, I am also making an animated movie titled 1985-1986 and I also work as a background actor in movies and commercials.

Why do I tell you this?

Well, in 2001 I spent the better part of 2 weeks on the set of Ali. This $100 million dollar movie was directed by Michael Mann. I am a huge fan of his movies Heat and The Insider. Lets not even get into what I feel for his first movie Thief. So basically, I think you are starting to see the connection. Whilst on the set of Ali, I got to see this man in action. I got to intimately see how he makes a movie. And I was captivated.

So I start off this review a little differently, because I believe in being honest. When the Movieweb people gave me Miami Vice: Season One to review, I told them up front, open just getting the box set in my hand, ”I love this”. I was making it known that basically, this thing would have to be quite piss poor for me to give it anything less then a great review.

So I take the set home, pop into my trusty AMW DVD player and I am hoping I hate it. I am hoping that this show which chronicles the adventures and misadventures of two of Miami PD’s finest, Sonny Crockett(Don Johnson) and Rico Tubbs(Philip Michael Thomas) is going to suck. I am hoping that I am going to be board seeing them solving crimes. Seeing them engage in shoot-outs. Seeing them drive down the streets of Miami. I am hoping to hate hearing the music of U2, Glenn Frey, Phil Collins and others who made up the soundtrack to my childhood.

Well, it didn’t happen.

This set is great. Now I know that I may not be the best audience to be objective, but I love the 80s. It is the time of my childhood. It is where I became to person I am today. In a way, I feel as if I cruised those Miami Streets with Crockett and Tubbs. There’s nothing like the show starting up in 2005, in my bedroom, and hearing that familiar music kick in. There is nothing like seeing Don Johnson “cooly” deliver his dialogue and then seeing Tubbs be equally as cool as he delivers his.

This is such a great 3 disc box set. I knew when I saw the “Smuggler’s Blues” episode that short of this DVD box set killing my DVD player(and the player only cost $30 so who really cares), there was nothing that could happen that was going to make me not give this set a stellar rating. I love the care and seriousness that went into this. Miami Vice for a long time, seemed to be overlooked for just how groundbreaking a show it was. Many people just write it off as an 80s cop show. And it is that, but it is not only that. It made TV cool. It gave people like me another “Fonzie”. It allowed me to vicariously experience everything that happens to these characters while being in the safety of my parents house.

I tried to dress like Crockett a little bit. Never really at school, but in certain cases, family events or bar-mitzvahs. It seems like people laugh at that now. Everything is ironic. We don’t really get involved with the movies we watch. We stand back and laugh at them like movies such as Napoleon Dynamite, which never seems to take it’s characters seriously. Well, the release of Miami Vice: Season One, could not have come at a better or more needed time.

Thanks to this box set, DVD is cool now.

Features

The Vibe of Miami Vice

Wow! An almost historical look at how this groundbreaking show changed the face of TV as we know it. The people involved talk about how this show not only influenced other shows, but the look and subject matter of those shows as well. This is the kind of featurette that could be a part of a master’s thesis on pop culture. I feel odd using that word here, just because I think this show did a lot more then contribute to pop culture. It went beyond what we saw on TV and had an effect, I think, on the male psyche as well. I know people who tried to dress like the characters on this show. It only stands to reason that not only could a show like this affect those people, but I am sure it had to have had some effect on the Police as well as the people the Police were after. It’s like the age old question that The Godfather brings up, what came first that movie showing those people, or those people emulating the characters from that movie?

Building the Perfect Vice

This is nice look at how the show came about. From the idea to the screen. I always wondered how you get show a going just because I know that in television everything is done at a much faster pace. Which I am sure for the filmmakers is nice because you write something, and oftentimes it is being committed to film shortly after that. Well, this featurette takes you through that in a very enlightening way especially because we’re dealing with an action show. So the dynamic is different because it’s not a sitcom or real talky thing. The show is on the move. Miami Vice is vibrant. It has an immediacy to it that I think was served very well by being developed on the small screen first.

The Style of Vice

It may not seem like it now, but there was a time when Tubbs and Crockett were it as far as style goes. Nowadays, you get a guy in a t-shirt and suit jacket and suddenly the way he dresses is meant to take on sort of a campiness. But seeing the signature white jack on Crockett and the Black on Tubbs you’re seeing a whole different categorization of who these characters are. This are the good guys but they’re not entirely good and in many ways they act above the law. While this was the 80s when this show was happening, I am not sure that such a show would play today. Especially, with what seems like a growing second guessing of our police force. I guess time will tell.

The Music of Vice

The music. The message. Phil Collin’s “In the Air Tonight” is a timeless and great song. Then to have U2, Elvis Presley, Peter Gabriel, Eric Clapton, Tina Turner, The Police, INXS, Glenn Frey as well as other acts underscoring this show, this 3 disk set suddenly takes on grander proportions. I don’t know how the Smithsonian Institute works, and I am not sure what pieces of memorabilia have to do to qualify to be put in a time capsule, I will just say that Miami Vice: Season One, should certainly be given some consideration. Now, I know that this comment is going to make a lot of you laugh, but what’s the point of preserving culture if we don’t preserve something that is so inherently a part of Americana? And furthermore, a good deal of the bands listed here are still incredibly relevant over 2 decades later. If this doesn’t show foresight? If this doesn’t show a document of our time, then I honestly don’t know what does.

Miami after Vice

I didn’t really watch all of this. Hey, I’m being honest here, right? I think this segment is a little overboard. I mean, I like Miami. I’ve been there a few times and I thought it was nice, but I just think that a city is a city and this featurette was a little bit much. I am not going to use the word cheesy because I feel that the people that made this DVD did an outstanding job, lets just say that this particular featurette was a little much for my taste.

Video

18 hours and 25 minutes of 1.33:1 full frame TV on DVD. It’s funny, when Michael Mann was making “Robbery Homicide Division” people were upset that he was making the show in this format. They wanted it to be widescreen. His point was that if you’re watching a TV show, it should fill the darn TV screen. It’s not a movie. These DVD transfers are crystal clear. They look amazing. Considering the subject matter and how this footage is over 2 decades old, it is great to see that when shows are brought to DVD they are handled so well. I know that these studios take care of their libraries but there has long loomed a debate over what would happen because this stuff is deteriorating. Thanks to DVDs, we will all be able to enjoy and rediscover shows for years to come. It also makes sense, because so much of Miami Vice’s appeal was based on the look and the moodiness of the images. Here, in this box set they are all on display.

Audio

5.1 Dolby Digital and how could it not be? When you’re not only getting a 3 disk DVD box set of one of the best 80s TV shows, but a soundtrack from that era...to have this DVD have anything less then that type of sound would be ludicrous. In fact, this is the kind of DVD you could put on in the background as you are cleaning your house, or working at your CPU and you wouldn’t even need to watch it. You could just listen because there is so much music, both scored and played by bands, that it wouldn’t matter. I know that you can buy a soundtrack of the music to this TV show and that is actually something I might look into. Or, I could just pop the disks into my DVD player and do as I mentioned. Either way, you gotta love a DVD set that has this many uses.

Package

The packaging is rad. Okay, now I am just fawning. The cover is typical Michael Mann blue with two shots of Crockett and Tubbs looking cool in Miami. There’s even a shot of Don Johnson pointing gun wearing his signature shades. A lot of people might be put off by this, the handling of guns and what not, but these are exactly the kinds of things that should be on the DVD box. There is no point in trying to sell this show to newcomers and have them think that it’ s something it’s not. I think there could have at least been one picture on the back of the box. All it is is text, which is fine, but another image might have spruced things up just a tad.

There, are you happy? I found a flaw. It’s not a big flaw(or even a meaningful one for that matter) it’s more or less just being nit picky. Nothing of course to deter my thoughts that this disk set belongs in a time capsule.

Final Word

I was booked to work as an extra on Collateral, Michael Mann’s newest picture. It was Halloween night and my call was at midnight. I opted out and I regret it. I would like to apologize now.

However, I feel that doing this DVD review makes up for it. I am not, however, 100% comfortable saying that this 3 disk set should be a blind buy. I say this because the subject matter isn’t for everyone. I also know that a lot people aren’t into shows of this sort. Police stories, shoot-em ups, etc. I will say however that as much as style sometimes bores the pants off of me in certain movies, Michael Mann’s films never do that.

Now you might say, “Of course they don’t, you’re in his pocket”. I think you’re wrong. In shows like Miami Vice it is never the case of style over substance. I think it’s a case of the style is the substance. This show melded very good writing, with an aesthetic that we haven’t seen on TV for years since it last aired.

I for one am looking forward to the proposed Miami Vice movie.

Miami Vice was released .