Tropical Heat - The Complete First Season
Tango // Unrated // $19.98 // October 25, 2005
Review by Jeffrey Robinson | posted January 4, 2006
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Graphical Version
The First Season

Tropical Heat: Sweating Bullets was a short lived crime drama from the early nineties. The series aired in the United States as Sweating Bullets and as Tropical Heat elsewhere. The show revolves around a former Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) agent turned private investigator who works with a travel agent to fight crime in the paradise of Mariah Key, Florida. The series follows a tone that borderlines playful and dramatic. The approach makes for some decent entertainment, but it still does not equate to anything remarkable. The show features lots of girls in bikinis, cheesy fight scenes, goofy dialogue, and plenty of bad acting. If you have not seen Tropical Heat: Sweating Bullets, you will not be missing out on much.

The main character is Nick Slaughter (Rob Stewart). Nick is a former DEA agent who was fired for aiding and abetting a felon. There was a woman who was accused of a crime and all of the evidence pointed to her guilt. Nick, however, felt she was innocent and helped her escape the country. This act ended his career with the DEA (and why he is not in jail, I don't know) and since then he has setup shop as a private investigator in Key Mariah. Nick is a ladies man and serious about nothing. He acts goofy and jokes about everything, but when it comes to detective work, he puts his heart and soul into it.

The other main character is Sylvie Girard (Carolyn Dunn) who joins Nick as his secretary/business administrator. Sylvie was an exclusive travel agent for rich and powerful. She met Nick when she was in Mariah Key trying to fix a small problem she got herself in the middle of. She unknowingly rented her boss's yacht to a convicted criminal who disappeared with the boat. She hired Nick to help her find the boat and found herself in the middle of a murder and several million dollars of stolen money. In the end, she lost her job and teamed up with Nick to fight crime.

Joining Nick and Sylvie are Ian (John David Bland), who is Nick's good friend, a fellow playboy, and the owner a local bar, Lt. Carillo (Pedro Armendariz), the local cop in charge of the law and a person who doesn't always see eye-to-eye with Nick, but under it all appreciates his work, and Ollie Porter (Eugene Clark), a former Philadelphia detective who joins the local police department and helps Nick out on occasion.

The cast has some limitations. None of their performances are outstanding, but Stewart handles his role fairly well and produces some decent chemistry with the rest of the cast. He also brings his character a likeable feeling by means of his goofy antics. But in the end Stewart's sole performance isn't enough to make this show really entertaining.

The cast is not the only element lacking about this series, as the stories are fairly narrow and offer predictable and more often than not lackluster presentations. The show lacks depth in its content. The cases Nick and Sylvie deal with involve murder, white collar crime, the mafia, biological weapons, insurance fraud, and scandals of all kinds. What does not work about these cases is simply how they are handled. Everything is handled in such a simple fashion that there is little in terms of intrigue. And at times it feels like one case is just like the other.

In the end, I feel Tropical Heat: Sweating Bullets has little appeal. The characters are decent, but nothing remarkable. In general the performances are not very convincing, which doesn't help with the simplistic stories in each episode. In addition, content aside, the presentation values of this DVD release are pretty poor. This DVD release offers some low grade video quality, which is due to the older source medium and the abundance of video compression. (You can read more about this in the "Video" section of this review.) Overall, Tropical Heat: Sweating Bullets is not worth the time or money.

Episode Guide
1. Hard Case
2. Fowl Play
3. Death's a Beach
4. Family Affair
5. Roll of the Dice
6. Double Time
7. Forget Me Not
8. For a Song
9. Marissa
10. The Mariah Connection
11. Mafia Mistress
12. A Perfect .38
13. Dead Men Tell
14. Big Brother Is Watching
15. This Year's Model
16. Writer Wrong
17. Runaway
18. Sex, Lies & Lullabies
19. She
20. Tara, Tara, Tara
21. Abandoned
22. Deceit

The DVD
This DVD release comes with twenty-two episodes crammed into three DVDs. The discs are dual-layered with discs 1 & 2 containing eight episodes while disc 3 has six episodes. It is important to note that these are episodes created for hour long time slots. Most TV on DVD releases with a similar runtime contain four (sometimes five) episodes per disc. Cramming eight on a disc affects the video quality. The three DVDs included are stored in a standard size keep case that holds all three discs.

Video:
The video transfer is given in its original television aspect ratio of 1.33:1 full frame color. The image quality is not very good and offers a low grade looking picture. The problem can be associated to the original source medium and video compression. The source transfer is over fourteen years old and as such, I would expect it to have some issues. The problems are, however, worsened with video compression. Since there are so many episodes crammed on a single disc, the picture suffers greatly. What we are left with is a rough and blocky image that looks awful during quick motion segments. Other noticeable problems include colors being represented incorrectly with too much red, the picture having heavy ghosting, and other visual distortions. Overall Tropical Heat: Sweating Bullets - Season 1 does not have a very good looking transfer.

Audio:
Standard to most TV on DVD releases, the audio track included is in English 2.0 Dolby digital stereo sound. The audio track has some issues. The music is typically louder than the dialogue and sometimes makes it hard to hear what is being said, especially for soft spoken characters. The first episode "Hard Case" is especially difficult. Spoken dialogue only comes out of the left channel while music and sound effects are used in both channels. This release also comes with no support for subtitles or closed captioning.

Extras:
There are no extras included in this DVD release.

Final Thoughts:
Tropical Heat: Sweating Bullets offers little as a television series to keep you entertained. It has little depth in its stories and has plenty of less than spectacular acting performances from its cast. Furthermore, the DVD's technical aspects do not help with the experience. In the end, Tropical Heat: Sweating Bullets - Season 1 offers a few decent episodes, but not enough to warrant your attention. Unless you are a fan of the series, I would stay away from this one.



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