you seen an episode of Miami Vice lately? Watch out—it
will probably make you groan and, if you grew up in the 80s,
definitely make you squirm a little. Why? Because it is sooo
80s. There’s no other way to say it.
And by sooo 80s I mean, of course, the light-weight sport coat
with a T underneath; the pastel colors; the
lettering of the title (he’s the artist who did Duran
cover); the early music-video quality of some of the scenes; the
ever-present facial stubble.
think about it for a moment—it’s pretty impressive, actually, that one
TV series managed to so completely define (and reflect) a decade.
Miami Vice managed to simultaneously set the style and package it
neatly on our TV screen: no small feat. Plus, and because of that, it
was an exciting show.
The premise of the
show was two Miami Vice Detectives solving crimes and looking cool while
doing it. The two, Sonny Crockett and Rico Tubbs, were played by Don
Johnson (who lived on a boat, remember?) and Philip Michael Thomas,
respectively. Crockett had a guard-alligator named Elvis; Tubbs was
attempting to avenge his brother’s murder.
That was the basic plot, which featured sharp writing and interesting
story lines. But it was all the surrounding details that made the show.
Miami Vice incorporated music into its plotlines and featured big-name
musical guest stars like
Collins, resulting in exciting, fast-paced, visceral TV. Consider the
opening credits: the blue sky and palm trees rushing by; the music. All
the pastels of the clothes and the sets were wildly popular in their
decade, too. And just look at a photo of a man (any man) with a white
jacket, powder-blue T, long-ish hair and a bit of rakish stubble, and
two words come to mind: Miami Vice. That’s a pretty powerful
I do feel a little sorry for the
legacy of Miami Vice. It hasn’t really stood the test of time,
but rather turned into a bit of a dated joke (and the 2009 movie didn’t
fare so well). And it doesn’t deserve that fate. But Miami Vice
is a victim of its own success. That is, it depicted the 80s so
perfectly that now it seems perpetually stuck there.