the time its second season rolled around, Miami Vice was a cultural phenomenon.
Women everywhere had Crockett and Tubbs posters on their
walls and their faces were on as many magazine covers as Britney and Angelina
combined. Meanwhile, men were imitating the show's style by wearing pastel colored suits, thin ties and
blazers with the sleeves rolled-up. Oh, and let's not forget the infamous five
o'clock shadow Johnson sported. In fact, ratings-wise, the second season would prove to be Vice's most popular
- even allowing Philip Michael Thomas to record a CD!
But enough about the pop culture repercussions. We're here to talk about the show.
Though this would be "Vice's" highest rated
season of the five, compared to the first, it's hit or miss. For every good
episode like "the Prodigal Son" or "Sons And Lovers", we're subjected to
episodes like "Junk Love" or "Free Verse" or "Back In the World" or...well, you
get the point. Some attribute this drop in quality to series producer Michael
Mann spreading himself too thin by producing "Band Of the Hand" and "Crime
Story" and writing and directing "Manhunter". While that might be
true, he had no control over the acting. As a fan of the show, I can admit it:
the acting is cheesy and Philip Michael Thomas is the main offender.
One thing that bugged me about the majority of
the episodes, was the lack of any sort of conclusion. Quite a few of them have
that ambiguous ending which "Law & Order" has perfected; episodes such as
"Bought And Paid For" and "Buddies" end suddenly as if they ran out of time or
story. Other than that, I had a good time watching all 22 episodes if, for no
other reason than to watch the bond between Crockett and Tubbs develop and get
Here's the episode listing:
- the Prodigal Son - Crockett and Tubbs take on
the Big Apple to crack a Colombian drug cartel in the premiere for season
two. Along they way they encounter Peter Allen, Pam Grier, Gene Simmons,
Charles S. Dutton, and Penn [of "& Teller" fame]. You might also recognize
Bill Smitrovich, who played a dirty cop in the series premiere. This episode
will always have a special place in my heart. Not because it takes place in
New York or because I enjoyed the way they used Glen Frey's "You Belong To
the City" or Phil Collins' "Take Me Home", but because Hurricane Gloria
knocked out my cable when the premiere was scheduled. In fact, up until now,
I hadn't even seen the episode in its entirety. Oh, and it was also directed
by Paul Michael Glaser of "Starsky & Hutch" fame (the TV show NOT the
- Whatever Works - After a great start with "the
Prodigal Son", the show stumbles slightly with this look into the world of
Santería. I wasn't really impressed with the show and
guest-star Eartha Kitt was downright creepy (IMO). However, the
disappointment was slightly offset with an amusing sub-plot that saw Sonny
and Izzy try to get Sonny's repossessed Ferrari back. Oh, and I enjoyed
seeing the Power Station, an 80's "supergroup" comprised of members from
Duran Duran and Chic. It was just disappointing that Robert Palmer wasn't in
the band at the time.
- Out Where the Buses Don't Run - "24" Co-creator
Joel Surnow returns to co-write this episode about an ex-vice cop (Bruce
McGill) who may or may not have lost his marbles. Keep your eyes open
for David Strathairn ("Good Night, And Good Luck").
- the Dutch Oven - Get your mind out of the
gutter. This Abel Ferrara directed episode has nothing to do with the first
thing that popped into your head when you read the title of this episode.
Instead, "Big Booty" Trudy takes center-stage when she hooks up
with an ex-boyfriend after shooting someone on the job. Along the way, she
meets his friend (Giancarlo Esposito), who's a drug dealer and she's forced
to decide where her professional life ends and her personal one begins. David "Buster
Poindexter" Johansen also puts in an appearance.
- Buddies - A Miami crime boss puts a hit out
on a woman who's running from her abusive husband when she inadvertently
grabs some incriminating documents after fending of the sexual advances of
Nathan Lane. That right. Nathan "Birdcage" Lane. Meanwhile, Crockett's old Army buddy
(James Remar) could have more of a connection to all of this than Sonny
realizes. Frankie Valli also guest-stars.
- Junk Love - While Tubbs is undercover in a
whorehouse run by jazz legend Miles Davis [!], he comes across a hooker who
has a connection to a drug dealer named Silva that the squad is trying to
bust. However, her true feelings for Silva and her drug addiction could
hinder the operation. This particular episode dragged for me, however,
anytime Miles was on, my television radiated a high level of cool.
- Tale Of the Goat - In what i'm sure was a
tribute to Wes Craven's "the Serpent And the Rainbow", Prince's
papa from "Purple Rain" - Clarence Williams III's body is
shipped back to Miami for his funeral. Unfortunately, he ain't dead yet and
once he's up and running, he proceeds in settling old scores with the likes
Williamson (making his second appearance on Vice, and not surviving this one
- Bushido - "Bushido" gives us an oh-so-brief
look into Lieutenant Castillo's mysterious past. Dean Stockwell guest-stars
as an old partner from Castillo's "company" days who's on the run
from both the Feds and the KGB. Also running with Dean is his son and his
wife, who happens to be an ex-KGB agent. This Edward
James Olmos directed episode was one of the better ones of the season.
However, as much as I might have liked David Rasche's portrayal of "Sledge
Hammer", I just couldn't buy him as the head KGB assassin.
- Bought & Paid For - A
friend/housekeeper of Gina's is raped by an arrogant Bolivian playboy.
Joaquim DeAlmeida ("24") and Lynn Whitfield guest-star. As if an extremely
attractive Whitfield wasn't enough of a reason to catch this episode, El DeBarge also shows up to lipsync two songs! In spite of the ambiguous
ending, I thought this was a pretty entertaining episode highlighted by a
race between a Ferrari and a Lamborghini down a Miami highway.
- Back In the World - This snore-fest of an
episode deals with
Crockett's Vietnam days. Seems an old war buddy of his (Bob Balaban) is now a
journalist and has some info regarding an American general (G. Gordon Liddy!)
who may or may not have smuggled heroin into the U.S. using deceased
soldiers to do it. Iman and Patty D'Arbanville guest-star in this Don
Johnson directed episode.
- Phil the Shill - Hot on the heels of his
blockbuster album "No Jacket Required", Phil Collins costars in this
entertaining episode that also features a guest appearance by Emo Phillips
and Kyra Sedgwick. Phil, the host of a soon-to-be defunct game show, weasels
his way into the drug trade. By the end of the episode, he's obviously way
out of his league.
- Definitely Miami - This bizarre episode
starts off with a slightly attractive lady by the pool rubbing Crockett's
ice cubes all over her bikinied body, and ends with Ted Nugent in a
shootout. How we get from point A to B isn't that interesting of a ride, but
what would one expect from Rob Cohen (director of future classics "the Fast
And the Furious" and "XXX").
- Yankee Dollar - Finding himself the odd man
out after everyone makes plans
for the evening, Crockett decides to calls up a
stewardess friend of his. I don't want to give away too much, but from there it turns into
yet another episode about
cocaine trafficking and double crossing. There is a bright spot however - Austin Pendelton guest stars.
- One Way Ticket - Sonny's friend, who
happens to be a deputy district attorney, is gunned down in the middle of his own wedding.
However, the attorney (guest star John Heard) who'll be defending the hit
man, was also the one responsible for getting Crockett's old partner's
murderer off. Keep an eye out for series composer Jan Hammer during
- Little Miss Dangerous - This one is pretty
straight forward - Tubbs gets involved
with someone whom he doesn't know is a serial killer dubbed "the Crayon Killer". 80's pop star Fiona guests.
- Florence Italy - Indy 500 driver Danny
Sullivan makes his acting debut in the episode playing a (take a wild guess) Grand Prix
racer who may or may not be responsible for the death of prostitute Florence
Italy. Danny's acting is not as good as his driving, but keep an eye out as
the Fat Boys make a gratuitous appearance.
- French Twist - Sonny becomes enthralled
with a French Interpol agent after teaming up to hunt down an international
drug dealer. Tubbs gets jealous. Okay, so he doesn't really get
jealous...just suspicious. Watching some of the acting of the supporting
characters in this episode, i'd be suspicious of the person doing the
- the Fix - After a surprising bust, Crockett
and Tubbs cross paths with a corrupt judge who holds court in one of the
funkiest art deco courtrooms that I EVER seen. Harvey Fierstein plays an
attorney that helps twist the screws, while Michael Richards (yep, Cosmo
Kramer himself!) plays a drug dealer and "CineSchlock-O-Rama" mainstay Dick
- Payback - Crockett is suspected of being a
dirty cop after meeting with a jailed drug
dealer who blows his brains out right in front of him. However, before the
thug was locked up, he hides a stash of drug kingpin Mario Fuente's money. Dan Hedaya ("Cheers", "the Tortellis") and Frank Zappa [!] guest star.
- Free Verse - I could not, for the life of me,
get into this episode. It was just that uninteresting. Well, okay, so maybe
besides being extremely boring,
it was slightly confusing too. It has something to do with a poet in a
wheelchair that Crockett and Tubbs are assigned to trying to
keep two wheels ... errr ... steps ahead of an assassination plot.
Unfortunately, it seems Senor Poet Lauriat is drawn the Miami's lively
nightlife. The only
think that kept me awake was trying to keep an eye out for Luis Guzman's
playing "Where's Michael Bay?". That's right, future director of such
cinematic classics as "Pearl Harbor" and "Bad Boys II" makes the briefest of
appearances as "Goon #3".
- Trust Fund Pirates - I'm still trying to
figure out which was funnier: a recent skit on Saturday Night Live about a
Pirate Convention or this episode where Sonny and Rico are in pursuit of
yuppie pirates. Along the way, the fellas come across Tommy Chong, Denny
Dillon and Gary Cole, who plays a smuggler/pilot who is looking to settle
down. However, things aren't always what they seem. Bookending this episode
is a song from Randy Newman touting the beauty that is Miami and an
appearance from Detective John Munch himself, Richard Belzer, who runs a
"pirate" radio station and sports an eye patch. Get it? The episode is FULL
- Sons And Lovers - We end the second season
with one of its best episodes. "Sons And Lovers" features the return of the
individuals that were responsible for putting Crockett and Tubbs together:
the Calderones. This time around, Calderone's son (John Leguizamo, making
his first of two appearances as this character) has a hit out on Tubbs to
avenge his father's death (even though, technically, Crockett is the one who
gunned him down). However, Angelina Calderone discovers the plot and does
her best to prevent the hit from succeeding. Why's that? Well, you'll just
have to watch the episode.
Miami Vice: Season Two is presented on three double sided DVDs with a
full frame 1.33:1 ratio. There were
flaws scattered throughout the set. Aside from some obvious dirt on the print,
the picture slightly "jumps" during the final episode "Sons And Lovers". Other
than that, I still think it looks a whole helluva lot better than it did in
Miami Vice: Season Two's Dolby Digital 5.1 mix really only mattered once
the pop soundtrack or Jan Hammer's score kicked in. For the most part, the sound
was projecting from my center channel with an occasional right or left front
kicking in some ambience.
Supplements: Well...umm...it comes in a pretty, shiny box. Yeah, that's
about it. Not that there was a plethora of extras on the first season's set,
there isn't even so much as a travelogue on this puppy. Disappointing.
Conclusion: In the scheme of things, this season wasn't as good as the
first, but it was much better than the ones to come. I'm always hesitant when
trying to come up with a final assessment for something that has deep nostalgic
feelings. On the one hand, it brings me back to when times were simpler and I
can appreciate it for what it accomplished (good and bad) during its time. On
the other hand, I think that watching this show after some of modern day cop
shows ("Homicide", "NYPD Blue", "Law & Order", etc) will make one wonder "What the
hell were they thinking?!!?" Some of the police "procedures" will have you
scratching your head, the acting can get pretty cheesy and you'll be aghast at
both the technology and the clothes people wear. For those people, I would
suggest renting the set and keep in mind that it's a product of its time and if
it wasn't for "Vice", we might not have some of those aforementioned cop shows.
For everyone else that caught this show the first time around (or dug the first
season) this helping of "Miami Vice" gets a Recommended.