Miami Vice

Miami Vice
Miami Vice
Miami Vice Season 2 Logo sm.jpg
Miami Vice logo/title card
Also known as Gold Coast (working title)
Genre Crime drama
Created by Anthony Yerkovich
Starring Don Johnson
Philip Michael Thomas
Saundra Santiago
Michael Talbott
John Diehl
Olivia Brown
Gregory Sierra
Edward James Olmos
Theme music composer Jan Hammer
Opening theme Miami Vice Theme
Ending theme Miami Vice Theme
Composer(s) Jan Hammer (S1-4)
Tim Truman (S5)
Country of origin United States
Language(s) English
No. of seasons 5
No. of episodes 111 (List of episodes)
Executive producer(s) Michael Mann
Dick Wolf (Co-exec: S4)
Robert Ward (Co-exec: S5)
Richard Brams (Co-exec: S5)
Producer(s) John Nicolella (S1-2)
Richard Brams (Co-prod: S1-2)
Dick Wolf (Co-prod: S3)
Location(s) Miami, Florida
Running time 48 minutes, plus three 96 minute episodes
(excluding commercials)
Production company(s) Michael Mann Productions
In Association With Universal Television
Distributor NBC Universal Television Distribution
Original channel NBC, USA Network
Picture format SDTV
Audio format Stereo
Original run September 28, 1984 – May 21, 1989
External links

Miami Vice is an American television series produced by Michael Mann for NBC. The series starred Don Johnson and Philip Michael Thomas as two Metro-Dade Police Department detectives working undercover in Miami. It ran for five seasons on NBC from 1984–1989. The USA Network later began airing reruns the next year, in 1990, and actually broadcast an originally unaired episode during its syndication run of the series on January 25, 1990.

Unlike standard police procedurals, the show drew heavily upon 1980s New Wave culture and music. The show became noted for its heavy integration of music and visual effects to tell a story. It is recognized as one of the most influential television series of all time.[1][2][3][4] People magazine stated that Miami Vice "was the first show to look really new and different since color TV was invented."[1] Reruns of the series later aired on the FX from 1996-1999. Then in 2006 the cable network TV Land aired episodes for about a year. The same year the series began airing on the Sleuth network in United States until 2008, and now episodes air on the Centric network, MBC Action in the Arab World, Iris in Italy, NRK3 in Norway, Viasat TV6 in Sweden, Viasat 3+ in Denmark, TV7 in Bulgaria, TV3 in Estonia, ZDF in Germany, and 111 Hits in Australia.

Michael Mann directed a film adaptation of the television series, which was released on July 28, 2006.



It is rumored that head of NBC's Entertainment Division, Brandon Tartikoff, wrote a brainstorming memo that simply read "MTV cops",[1][5][6][7] and later presented the memo to series creator Anthony Yerkovich, formerly a writer and producer for Hill Street Blues.[6] Yerkovich, however, indicates that he devised the concept after learning about asset forfeiture statutes that allow law enforcement agencies to confiscate the property of drug dealers for official use.[8] The initial idea was for a movie about a pair of vice cops in Miami.[6] Yerkovich then turned out a script for a two-hour pilot, titled "Gold Coast", but later renamed, Miami Vice.[1][6] Yerkovich was immediately drawn to South Florida as a setting for his new-style police show.[6] Miami Vice was one of the first American network television programs to be broadcast in stereophonic sound.


In keeping with the show's namesake, most episodes focus on combating drug trafficking and prostitution. Episodes more often than not end in a large gun battle, claiming the lives of several criminals before they can be apprehended. An undercurrent of cynicism and futility underlies the entire series; the detectives repeatedly reference the "whack-a-mole" nature of drug interdiction, with its parade of drug cartels to replace those that are brought to justice. Co-Executive producer Anthony Yerkovich explained:

Even when I was on Hill Street Blues, I was collecting information on Miami, I thought of it as a sort of a modern-day American Casablanca. It seemed to be an interesting socioeconomic tide pool: the incredible number of refugees from Central America and Cuba, the already extensive Cuban-American community, and on top of all that the drug trade. There is a fascinating amount of service industries that revolve around the drug trade — money laundering, bail bondsmen, attorneys who service drug smugglers. Miami has become a sort of Barbary Coast of free enterprise gone berserk.[6]

The choice of music and cinematography borrowed heavily from the emerging New Wave culture of the 1980s. As such, segments of Miami Vice would sometimes use music-based stanzas, a technique later featured in Baywatch. As Lee H. Katzin, one of the show's directors, remarked, "The show is written for an MTV audience, which is more interested in images, emotions and energy than plot and character and words."[6] These elements made the series into an instant hit, and in its first season saw an unprecedented 15 Emmy Award nominations.[6][9] While the first few episodes contain elements of a standard police procedural, the producers soon abandoned them in favor of a more distinctive style. Of the many different production aspects of the show, "no earth tones" were allowed to be used.[6] A director of Miami Vice, Bobby Roth, recalled:

There are certain colors you are not allowed to shoot, such as red and brown. If the script says 'A Mercedes pulls up here,' the car people will show you three or four different Mercedes. One will be white, one will be black, one will be silver. You will not get a red or brown one. Michael knows how things are going to look on camera.[6]


Nick Nolte and Jeff Bridges[10][11] were considered for the role of Sonny Crockett, but since it was not lucrative for film stars to venture into television at the time, other candidates were looked at.[12] Larry Wilcox, of CHiPs, was also a candidate for the role of Crockett, but the producers felt that going from one police officer role to another was not going to be a good fit.[13] After dozens of candidates and twice delayed pilot shooting, Don Johnson and Philip Michael Thomas were chosen as the vice cops.[6] For Johnson, who was by then 35 years old, NBC had particular doubts about his several earlier unsuccessful pilots he starred in.[6] After two seasons, Johnson threatened to walk from the series. The network was ready to replace him with Mark Harmon, who had recently departed St. Elsewhere, but Johnson relented and continued with the series until its end.


Many episodes of Miami Vice were filmed in the South Beach[14] section of Miami Beach,[14] an area which, at the time, was blighted by poverty and crime. Some street corners of South Beach were so run down that the production crew actually decided to repaint the exterior walls of some buildings before filming.[6] The crew went to great lengths to find the correct settings and props. Bobby Roth recalled, "I found this house that was really perfect, but the color was sort of beige. The art department instantly painted the house gray for me. Even on feature films people try to deliver what is necessary but no more. At Miami Vice they start with what's necessary and go beyond it."

Miami Vice is to some degree credited with causing a wave of support for the preservation of Miami's famous Art Deco architecture in the mid 1980s-to-early 1990s;[14] quite a few of those buildings, among them many beachfront hotels, have been renovated since filming, making that part of South Beach one of South Florida's most popular places for tourists and celebrities.[citation needed]

Other places commonly filmed in the series included scenes around Broward and Palm Beach counties.[citation needed]


Don Johnson with Glenn Frey (right) in the episode "Smuggler's Blues," one of many cameo appearances made by musicians and celebrities throughout the series.

Miami Vice is noted for its innovative use of music, particularly countless pop and rock hits of the 1980s and the distinctive, synthesized instrumental music of Jan Hammer. While other television shows used made-for-TV music, Miami Vice would spend $10,000 or more per episode to buy the rights to original recordings.[6] Getting a song played on Miami Vice was a boost to record labels and artists.[15] In fact, some newspapers, such as USA Today, would let readers know the songs that would be featured that week.[16] Among the many well-known bands and artists who contributed their music to the show were Roger Daltrey, El Debarge, Duran Duran, Devo, Jackson Browne, Kate Bush, Meat Loaf, Phil Collins,[17] Bryan Adams, Tina Turner, Peter Gabriel, ZZ Top, The Tubes, Dire Straits, Depeche Mode, The Hooters, Iron Maiden, The Alan Parsons Project, Godley & Creme, Corey Hart, Glenn Frey, U2, Underworld, Frankie Goes to Hollywood,[6] Foreigner, The Police, Red 7, Laura Branigan, Ted Nugent, Suicidal Tendencies, The Damned and Billy Idol. Several artists even guest-starred in episodes, including Phil Collins,[17] Miles Davis,[18] The Power Station,[19] Glenn Frey,[20] Suicidal Tendencies, Willie Nelson,[21] Ted Nugent,[22] Frank Zappa,[23] The Fat Boys,[24] and Sheena Easton. An iconic scene from the Miami Vice pilot involves Crockett and Tubbs driving through Miami at night to Phil Collins' hit song "In the Air Tonight."[15][25]

Jan Hammer credits executive producer Michael Mann for allowing him great creative freedom in scoring Miami Vice.[6] The collaboration resulted in memorable instrumental pieces, including the show's title theme, which climbed to the top of the U.S. Billboard charts in November 1985.[26] The Miami Vice original soundtrack, featuring Jan Hammer's #1 hit theme song and Glenn Frey's "You Belong to the City" (a #2 hit), stayed on the top of the U. S. album chart for 11 weeks in 1985, making it the most successful TV soundtrack at the time. The "Miami Vice Theme" was so popular that it also garnered two Grammy Awards in 1986.[26][27] It was also voted #1 theme song of all time by TV Guide readers.[citation needed] "Crockett's Theme," another recurring tune from the show, became a #1 hit in several European countries in 1987.[28]

During the show's run, three official soundtrack albums with original music from the episodes were released. Hammer has released several albums with music from the series; among them are Escape from Television (1987), Snapshots (1989), and after countless requests from fans, Miami Vice: The Complete Collection (2002).


Don Johnson epitomizing the dress style that became a hallmark of the series.

The clothes worn on Miami Vice had a significant influence on men's fashion. They popularized, if not invented, the "T-shirt under Armani jacket"-style,[29] and popularized Italian men's fashion in the United States.[6] Don Johnson's typical attire of Italian sport coat, T-shirt, white linen pants, and slip-on sockless loafers became a hit.[6][30] Even Crockett's perpetually unshaven appearance sparked a minor fashion trend, inspiring men to wear a small amount of beard stubble, also known as a five o'clock shadow (or "designer stubble") at all times.[29] In an average episode, Crockett and Tubbs wore five to eight outfits,[1][6] appearing in shades of pink, blue, green, peach, fuchsia, and the show's other "approved" colors.[6] Designers such as Vittorio Ricci, Gianni Versace, and Hugo Boss were consulted in keeping the male leads looking trendy.[1][6] Costume designer Bambi Breakstone, who traveled to Milan, Paris, and London in search of new clothes, testified that, "The concept of the show is to be on top of all the latest fashion trends in Europe."[6] Jodi Tillen, the costume designer for the first season, along with Michael Mann, set the style. The abundance of pastel colors on the show reflected Miami's Art-deco architecture.[30]

During its five-year run, consumer demand for unconstructed blazers, shiny fabric jackets, and lighter pastels increased.[6][30] After Six formal wear even created a line of Miami Vice dinner jackets, Kenneth Cole introduced Crockett and Tubbs shoes, and Macy's opened a Miami Vice section in its young men's department.[6] Crockett also boosted Ray Ban's popularity by wearing a pair of Ray-Ban Wayfarer (Model L2052, Mock Tortoise),[31] which increased sales of Ray Bans to 720,000 units in 1984.[32] In the spring of 1986, an electric razor became available called the Stubble Device, that allowed users to have a beard like Don Johnson's character. Initially, it was named the Miami Device by Wahl, but in the end the company wanted to avoid a trademark infringement lawsuit.[33] Many of the styles popularized by the TV show, such as the t-shirt under pastel suits, no socks, rolled up sleeves, and Ray-Ban sunglasses, have today become the standard image of 1980s culture.[29][32] The influence of Miami Vice's fashions continued into the early 1990s, and to some extent still persists today.[29][34]


Miami Vice also popularized certain brands of firearms and accessories.[35][36] After Johnson became dissatisfied with his gun holster, the Jackass Leather Company (later renamed Galco International) sent their president, Rick Gallagher, to personally fit Don Johnson with an "Original Jackass Rig," later renamed the Galco "Miami Classic."[36]

The Bren Ten, manufactured by Dornaus & Dixon, was a stainless-steel handgun used by Don Johnson during Miami Vice's first two seasons.[35] Dornaus & Dixon went out of business in 1986,[35] and Smith & Wesson was offered a contract to outfit Johnson's character with a S&W Model 645 during season three.[35][37][38]


The Ferrari Testarossa as seen in the series finale, "Freefall".

Two automobiles drew a lot of attention in Miami Vice, the Ferrari Daytona and Testarossa. During the first two seasons and two episodes of the third season, Detective Sonny Crockett drove a black 1972 Ferrari Daytona Spyder 365 GTS/4.[39] Actually, the car was not a Ferrari, but a kit replica based on a 1980 Chevrolet Corvette C3 chassis.[40] The car was fitted with Ferrari-shaped body panels by specialty car manufacturer McBurnie.[41] Once the car gained notoriety,[40] Enzo Ferrari filed a lawsuit demanding that McBurnie and others cease producing and selling Ferrari replicas, because they were taking his name and styling.[40] As a result, the vehicle lasted until season 3, at which point it was blown to pieces in the season three premiere episode, "When Irish Eyes Are Crying".[39][41] The fake Ferraris were removed from the show, with Ferrari donating two brand new 1986 Testarossas as replacements.[42] When Ferrari saw the black 'Daytona', he was convinced that it did not stand out in the night-time scenes very well; thus, the new Miami Vice car was produced in white. Ferrari continued this color in production for the Testarossa only.

The series' crew also used a third Testarossa look-alike, which was the stunt car.[42] Carl Roberts, who had worked on the Daytona kitcars, offered to build the stunt car.[42] Roberts decided to use a 1972 De Tomaso Pantera, which had the same wheelbase as the Testarossa and thus was perfect for the body pieces.[41][42] The vehicle was modified to withstand daily usage on-set, and continued to be driven until the series ended.[42]

Crockett's partner, Ricardo Tubbs, drove a 1964 Cadillac Coupe de Ville Convertible.[41][43][44] Stan Switek drove a turquoise 1963 Ford Thunderbird.[41] Gina Calabrese drove an 1971 Mercury Cougar XR-7 convertible.[citation needed] When Stan and Larry were undercover, they drove a Dodge Ram Van.[45][46] Other notable vehicles that appeared in Miami Vice included, brands such as Lamborghini,[46] AMG Mercedes-Benz, BMW, Maserati, Lotus, DeLorean, Porsche, and Corvettes.[46] American muscle cars, such as the GTO, Pontiac Firebird Trans Am, Mustang, Chevrolet Camaro, Plymouth GTX or a Plymouth Barracuda also made appearances.[41][46]


Throughout the series, Sonny Crockett lived on an Endeavour sailboat named the St. Vitus' Dance,[47] while in the pilot episode, Crockett is seen on a 38 foot Cabo Rico sailboat.[47] In seasons 1 and 2, he is seen living on an Endeavour 40 sailboat while in the rest of the series (seasons 3 to 5), he is seen living on an Endeavour 42 sailboat (priced at $120,000 in 1986). The allure of the sailboats was such that the Endeavour 42 used for the 1986 season of Miami Vice was sold to a midwest couple, while the Endeavour 40 sailboat, was sold to a chartering service in Fort Lauderdale. At the same time, Endeavour was building a new 42 for the 1987 season of Miami Vice.[47]

Crockett also pilots a 39 foot Chris Craft Stinger 390 in the first season,[48] and a Wellcraft 38 Scarab KV for the remainder of the show.[37][47][49] The Scarab 38 KV was a 28-hued, twin 440-hp boat that sold for $130,000 in 1986.[47]

As a result of the attention the Scarab 38 KV garnered on Miami Vice, Wellcraft received "an onslaught of orders", increasing sales by 21 percent in one year.[47] In appreciation, Wellcraft gave Don Johnson an exact duplicate of the boat. Afterward, Johnson was frequently seen arriving to work in it.[47] Altogether, one hundred copies of the boat (dubbed the "Scarab 38KV Miami Vice Edition") were built by Wellcraft.[50] The Miami Vice graphics and color scheme, which included turquoise, aqua, and orchid, could have been ordered on any other Scarab from 20–38 feet.[37]

Don Johnson also designed the Scarab Excel 43 ft, Don Johnson Signature Series (DJSS), and raced a similar one.[51] The Don Johnson Signature Series was powered by twin 650-hp Lamborghini V-12's, which caused some problems to the design of the boat due to their size.[51] Overall the boat cost $300,000 with each engine amounting to between $60–$70,000.[51] His interest in boat racing eventually led Johnson to start his own Offshore powerboat racing team, called Team USA.[52] Joining him were Hollywood stars including Kurt Russell and Chuck Norris. Johnson won the Offshore World Cup in 1988 and continued racing into the 1990s.[52]


Episode scripts were loosely based on actual crimes that occurred in Miami over the years.[1] The series also took a look at political issues such as the Northern Ireland conflict,[53] the drug war in South America (e.g. "Prodigal Son"), several episodes drawn on the Miami River Cops scandal (a real police corruption ring that involved narcotic thefts, drug dealing and murders), as well as several episodes of Cuban exile guerrillas and drug trafficking, and U.S. support of anti-communist generals and dictators in Southeast Asia and South America.[54] Social issues like child abuse and the AIDS crisis were also covered.[episode needed]

Personal issues also arose: Crockett is separated from his wife Caroline (Belinda Montgomery) in the pilot and divorced in the fourth episode, and later his second wife Caitlin Davies (Sheena Easton) is killed by one of his enemies. In the three episodes "Mirror Image," "Hostile Takeover" and "Redemption in Blood," a concussion caused by an explosion caused Crockett to believe he was his undercover alter ego Sonny Burnett, a drug dealer. Tubbs had a running, partly personal vendetta with the Calderone family, a member of which had ordered the death of his brother Rafael, a New York City police detective.

In the first seasons the tone was often very light, especially when comical characters such as police informants Noogie Lamont (Charlie Barnett) and Izzy Moreno (Martin Ferrero) appeared. Later the content was usually dark and cynical, with Crockett and Tubbs fighting corruption. Typically, the darker episodes had no denouement, each episode ending abruptly after a climax involving violence and death, often giving the episodes (especially in later seasons) a despairing and sometimes nihilistic feel, despite the trademark glamor and conspicuous wealth. Given its idiosyncratic "dark" feel and touch, Miami Vice is frequently cited as an example of made-for-TV Neo-noir. Although on surface Vice seemed to celebrate Reaganism, many episodes actually contained subtle criticism of the Reagan Administration's domestic and foreign policies. Michael Mann, who served as executive producer for the majority of the show's five-year run, is often credited with being one of the most influential Neo-noir directors.[citation needed] Episode "Out Where the Buses Don't Run" was ranked #90 on a top 100 all-time TV episode list by TV Guide in 1997. It was the only Miami Vice episode ranked.


"Don Johnson is keen to move on and take up the film career that is knocking at his door and to begin a new career as a producer of films and television, while Mann is keen to return to movies. Philip Michael Thomas — the egotistical but likeable young actor — wants to explore other TV and movie roles, while Edward James Olmos, after his tour de force performance in Stand and Deliver is in hot demand for movies. And NBC, the network that runs Miami Vice in the U.S., says that with slowing ratings, and newer hip cop shows like Wiseguy & 21 Jump Street, it is time to call it quits down in Miami and move on."

The show's popularity started to decline in the middle of third season (1986–1987).[citation needed] The show was placed on the same time slot as CBS' Dallas, hurting both shows.[56]

The original writers for the series left by the fourth season. Stories included a love affair between Sonny Crockett (Don Johnson) and Caitlin Davies (Sheena Easton), and a plot in which Crockett developed amnesia (during which he mistakes himself for his drug dealer alter ego, and becomes a hitman). Jan Hammer departed from the series at the end of the fourth season and was replaced by Tim Truman.[citation needed]

Before leaving the series to work on his new television series, Crime Story,[57] Michael Mann handed the role of executive producer to Dick Wolf[58] prior to the third season (1986–1987).[57] Wolf had the show focus on contemporary issues[57] like the problems in Northern Ireland, and capital punishment.[57] The fifth season (1988–1989) took the show on a more serious tone,[59] with storylines becoming dark and gritty — enough so that even some of the most loyal fans were left scratching their heads.[59] As the fifth season began, Olivia Brown recalled, "The show was trying to reinvent itself."[60] Dick Wolf said in an interview for E! True Hollywood Story, after the fifth season, it was all just "...kind of over",[61] and that the show had "run its course".[61]

In May 1989, NBC aired the two-hour series finale, "Freefall." Despite the status of "Freefall" as the series finale, however, there were three episodes that didn't air - "World of Trouble," "Miracle Man," and "Leap of Faith", which appeared during re-runs. A fourth, previously unbroadcast episode, "Too Much Too Late", was aired for the first time in 1990, on the USA Network.


The cast members of Miami Vice (from left to right): (top) John Diehl, Michael Talbott, Saundra Santiago (middle) Edward James Olmos, Olivia Brown, Philip Michael Thomas (bottom) Don Johnson.
Name Portrayed by Occupation Seasons Duration Credited as
1 2 3 4 5
James "Sonny" Crockett Don Johnson Detective Sergeant Main 1x01-5x21 starring
Ricardo Tubbs Phillip Michael Thomas Detective Sergeant Main 1x01-5x21
Gina Navarro Calabrese Saundra Santiago Detective Main 1x01-5x21 also starring
Stanley "Stan" Switek Michael Talbott Detective Main 1x01-5x21
Lawrence "Larry" Zito John Diehl Detective Main 1x01-3x13
Trudy Joplin Olivia Brown Detective Main 1x01-5x21
Lou Rodriguez Gregory Sierra Detective Lieutenant Main 1x01-1x04 and
Martin Castillo Edward James Olmos Detective Lieutenant Main 1x05-5x21

Main characters

  • Philip Michael Thomas as Detective Ricardo "Rico" Tubbs: A former New York police detective[62] who travels to Miami as part of a personal vendetta against Calderone, the man who murdered his brother.[62] After temporarily teaming up with Crockett, Tubbs follows his friend's advice and "transfers to a career in Southern law enforcement". He joins the Miami department and becomes Crockett's permanent partner. He often poses as Rico Cooper, a wealthy buyer from out of town.
  • Edward James Olmos as Lieutenant Martin Castillo: He replaces the slain Rodriguez as head of the OCB. A very taciturn man,[63] Castillo lives a reclusive life outside of work. He was formerly a DEA agent in the Golden Triangle of Southeast Asia during the Vietnam War. During his time as an agent, he opposed the CIA in endorsing the trafficking of heroin to finance their overseas operations.
  • Saundra Santiago as Detective Gina Navarro Calabrese: A fearless female detective, who after Crockett's divorce, held a brief romance with him. Even after their relationship did not progress, they still have a strong friendship.
  • Olivia Brown as Detective Trudy Joplin: Gina's patrol partner. Though tough, "Big Booty Trudy" sometimes struggles to face consequences of her job, such as when she shot and killed a man. Later in the series she has an encounter with a UFO and an alien portrayed by James Brown.
  • Michael Talbott as Detective Stanley "Stan" Switek: A fellow police detective and good friend to Larry. Although a good policeman, later on in the series, he falls prey to a gambling addiction. He is also a big fan of Elvis Presley.
  • John Diehl (1984–1987) as Detective Lawrence "Larry" Zito:[64] A detective and Switek's surveillance partner. He was killed in the line of duty when a drug dealer gave him a fatal overdose.[64] Diehl enjoyed being on Vice but wanted to leave the show opting for a more creative opportunity in theater.[64]
  • Gregory Sierra (1984) as Lieutenant Lou Rodriguez: A police Lieutenant who serves as commander of the Vice Unit. He is killed in the fourth episode by an assassin hired to kill Crockett.

Recurring characters

  • Charlie Barnett (1984–1987) as Nugart Neville "Noogie" Lamont: A friend of Izzy's and informant for Crockett and Tubbs.
  • Sheena Easton (1987–1988) as Caitlin Davies-Crockett: A pop singer who is assigned a police bodyguard, Crockett, for her testimony in a racketeering case. While protecting Caitlin, Sonny falls in love with her and they get married. Months after their marriage, Caitlin is killed by one of Crockett's former nemeses. Sonny later learns she was seven weeks pregnant, causing him further emotional turmoil.
  • Martin Ferrero (1984–1990) as Isidore "Izzy" Moreno: A petty criminal and fast talker, Izzy is always known for getting into quick money schemes and giving Crockett and Tubbs the latest information from the street.
  • Pam Grier (1985, 1989) as Valerie Gordon: A New York Police Department Officer and on-and-off love interest of Tubbs.
  • Belinda Montgomery (1984–1989) as Caroline Crockett/Ballard: Crockett's former wife who moves to Georgia to remarry and raise their child, Billy. Caroline had a baby with her second husband in her last appearance.

Guest appearances

Edward James Olmos, Bruce Willis (center), and Don Johnson in the episode "No Exit"

Many notable actors, actresses, musicians, comedians, athletes, celebrities, appeared throughout the show's five season run. They played many different roles from drug dealer to undercover cops to madams. The full list can be seen at the link above, as this is just a partial list. Notable musicians include Sheena Easton, Willie Nelson,[21] Gene Simmons,[65] and Ted Nugent[22] Additionally Glenn Frey,[20] Frank Zappa,[23] Phil Collins,[17] Miles Davis,[18][66] Frankie Valli,[67] Little Richard,[68] James Brown,[69] Leonard Cohen,[70] the band Power Station,[19] and Eartha Kitt.[19]

Other notable personalities included auto executive Lee Iacocca[71] and Watergate conspirator G. Gordon Liddy.[72][73][74] Athletes included Boston Celtics center Bill Russell, Bernard King,[75] Racecar driver Danny Sullivan,[24] and boxers Roberto Durán,[23] and Randall "Tex" Cobb.[76][77]

Notable actors of that time included Dean Stockwell,[78] Pam Grier,[65][79][80] Clarence Williams III,[81] and Brian Dennehy.[82]

Most of the show involved guest appearances from up-and-coming actors and actresses. These include: Laurence Fishburne, Viggo Mortensen, Dennis Farina,[83][84][85] Stanley Tucci,[86][87][88] Jimmy Smits,[89] Bruce McGill,[68] David Strathairn,[68] Ving Rhames,[45][90] Liam Neeson,[53] Lou Diamond Phillips,[91] Bruce Willis,[92] Ed O'Neill,[93] and Julia Roberts.[94] Additionally Michael Madsen,[95] Ian McShane,[96][97] Bill Paxton,[98] Luis Guzmán,[65][99] Kyra Sedgwick,[17] Esai Morales,[100][101] Terry O'Quinn,[95] Joaquim de Almeida, [102] Wesley Snipes,[98] John Turturro,[79] and Melanie Griffith[103] to name a few.

Future notable comedians included: John Leguizamo,[71][104][105] David Rasche,[78] Ben Stiller,[82] Chris Rock,[69] Tommy Chong,[106] Richard Belzer,[106] and Penn Jillette.[65]


Awards and nominations

Year Result Award Category Recipient(s)
1985 Nominated Emmy Awards[9] Outstanding Writing in a Drama Series Anthony Yerkovich
Winner Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Drama Series Edward James Olmos
Nominated Outstanding Lead Actor in a Drama Series Don Johnson
Winner Outstanding Film Sound Editing for a Series Bruce Bell, Sound Editor; Jerry Sanford Cohen, Music Editor; Victor B. Lackey, Sound Editor; Ian MacGregor-Scott, Sound Editor; Carl Mahakian, Sound Editor; Chuck Moran, Supervising Sound Editor; John Oettinger, Sound Editor; Bernie Pincus, Sound Editor; Warren Smith, Sound Editor; Bruce Stambler, Sound Editor; Mike Wilhoit, Sound Editor; Paul Wittenberg, ADR Editor; Kyle Wright, Sound Editor
Nominated Outstanding Film Sound Editing for a Series Jerry Sanford Cohen, Music Editor; Scott Hecker, Sound Editor; John A. Larsen, Supervising Sound Editor; Harry B. Miller, III, Sound Editor; Robert Rutledge, Sound Editor; Norto Sepulveda, ADR Editor; Gary Vaughan, Sound Editor; Jay Wilkinson, Sound Editor
Nominated Outstanding Film Editing for a Series Robert A. Daniels, Editor
Nominated Outstanding Film Editing for a Series Michael B. Hoggan
Nominated Outstanding Drama Series Richard Brams, Co-Producer; George E. Crosby, Co-Producer; Michael Mann, Executive Producer; John Nicolella, Supervising Producer; John Nicolella, Producer; Liam O'Brien, Supervising Producer; Mel Swope, Producer; Anthony Yerkovich, Executive Producer
Nominated Outstanding Directing in a Drama Series Lee H. Katzin, Director
Nominated Outstanding Directing in a Drama Series Paul Michael Glaser, Director
Nominated Outstanding Costume Design for a Series Jodie Tillen, Costume Designer
Winner Outstanding Cinematography for a Series Bob Collins, Cinematographer
Nominated Outstanding Cinematography for a Series A.J. "Duke" Callaghan, Cinematographer
Winner Outstanding Art Direction for a Series Jeffrey Howard, Art Director; Robert Lacey
Nominated Outstanding Achievement in Music Composition for a Series (dramatic underscore) Jan Hammer, Composer
Winner Grammy Awards[27] Best Pop Instrumental Performance (Orchestra, Group Or Soloist) – "Miami Vice Theme" Jan Hammer, artist
Winner Best Instrumental Composition – "Miami Vice Theme" Jan Hammer, composer
Winner People's Choice Awards[107][108] Favorite: New TV Dramatic Program Miami Vice
1986 Winner Favorite: TV Dramatic Program Miami Vice
Nominated Emmy Awards[9] Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Drama Series Edward James Olmos
Nominated Outstanding Sound Mixing for a Drama Series Rick Alexander; Anthony Costantini, Sound Mixer; Daniel Leahy, Sound Mixer; Mike Tromer, Sound Mixer
Nominated Outstanding Editing for a Series (single camera production) Robert A. Daniels, Editor
Nominated Outstanding Achievement in Music Composition for a Series (dramatic underscore) Jan Hammer, Composer
Winner Golden Globe Awards[109] Best Performance by an Actor in a Supporting Role in a Series, Mini-Series or Motion Picture Made for Television Edward James Olmos
Nominated Best Performance by an Actor In A Television Series – Drama Philip Michael Thomas
Winner Best Performance by an Actor In A Television Series – Drama Don Johnson
Nominated Best Television Series – Drama Miami Vice
1987 Nominated Best Performance by an Actor In A Television Series – Drama Don Johnson
Nominated Best Television Series – Drama Miami Vice
1988 Nominated Emmy Awards[9] Outstanding Sound Mixing for a Drama Series Joe Citarella, Sound Mixer; Joe Foglia, Sound Mixer; Grover Helsley, Sound Mixer; Ray West, Sound Mixer
1989 Nominated Golden Globe Awards[109] Best Performance by an Actor in a Supporting Role in a Series, Mini-Series or Motion Picture Made for Television Edward James Olmos


  • 1984–1985 season: #28
  • 1985–1986 season: #8[110]
  • 1986–1987 season: #22
  • 1987–1988 season: #41[111]
  • 1988–1989 season: #61[111]


Critics have objected to the show's usage of violence by dressing it with pretty photography.[6] Others complained that the show relied more on visual aspects and music than on coherent stories and fully drawn characters.[6] Civic leaders in Miami have also objected to the show's airing of the city's crime problems all across America.[6] Most civic leaders however have been quieted due to the shows estimated contribution of $1 million per episode to the city's economy and boosting tourism to Miami.[6] Gerald S. Arenberg of the National Association of Chiefs of Police criticized the show's glamorous depiction of vice squads, saying "no real vice cops chase drug dealers in a Ferrari while wearing $600 suits. More often than not, they're holed up in a crummy room somewhere, wearing jeans with holes in them, watching some beat-up warehouse in a godforsaken part of town through a pair of dented binoculars".[112]

At the 1985 Emmy Awards Miami Vice was nominated for 15 Emmy Awards,[6][9] including "Outstanding Writing in a Dramatic Series", "Outstanding Film Editing", "Outstanding Achievement for Music Composition for a series (dramatic underscore)", and "Outstanding Directing".[9] At the end of the night, Miami Vice only won four Emmys. The following day, the Los Angeles Herald-Examiner could only conclude that the conservative Emmy voters (at the Academy of Television Arts & Sciences) simply refused to recognize an innovative new series that celebrated hedonism, violence, sex, and drugs.[113]

Impact on popular culture

Replica 1972 Ferrari Daytona Spyder (actually a modified Chevrolet Corvette), one of the cars driven by Don Johnson in Miami Vice.

Miami Vice was a ground breaking police program of the 1980s, and one of the best-known shows of that decade.[114] It had a notable impact on the decade's popular fashions[6][29] and set the tone for the evolution of police drama. Series such as Homicide: Life on the Street, NYPD Blue, and Law & Order, though being markedly different in style and theme from Miami Vice, followed its lead in breaking the genre's mold; Dick Wolf, creator and producer of Law & Order, was a writer and later executive producer of Miami Vice.[114] Although sometimes heavily disputed by their producers, the movies Bad Boys (1995) and Bad Boys 2 (2003) borrowed heavily on the concept of two undercover cops in the glitzy, upscale yet seedy world of South Florida law enforcement.[115]

The show has been so influential that the style of Miami Vice has often been borrowed or alluded to by much of today's pop culture in order to indicate or emphasize the 1980s decade. Its influence as a popular culture icon is still seen today, more than 20 years after appearing. Examples of this includes the episode "The One With All The Thanksgivings" from the American sitcom Friends. Flashback scenes from the 1980s in this episode shows the characters Ross and Chandler in pastel colored suits with rolled up sleeves like that of Sonny Crockett. Another example would be the video game Grand Theft Auto: Vice City, which was published by Rockstar Games and is set in a stylized 1980s Miami. Two undercover police officers appear in a police sports car within the game when three felony stars are obtained by the player. The two officers, one white and one black, resemble the two leading characters of Miami Vice. One of the main characters, Lance Vance, was actually voiced by Philip Michael Thomas. In the prequel, Grand Theft Auto: Vice City Stories, there are two officers in the multiplayer mode named Cracker and Butts a parody of Crockett and Tubbs; these characters share the same role as the undercover cops in Vice City. In the film "Boogie Nights", the movie takes place in the 1970's. The movie progresses into the 80's and closes with Mark Walberg wearing a white linen jacket, sleeves rolled up, and a bright pink shirt tucked into white linen pants. This informs the audience the year is now somewhere in the mid 80s due to the massive popularity of Miami Vice from 1984-1986.

Many of the styles popularized by the TV show, such as the t-shirt under pastel suits, no socks, rolled up sleeves, and Ray Ban sunglasses have today become the standard image of 1980s culture.[29][32]

However, pastels and the fashion accessories mentioned above were not emblematic of the entire decade, but that they stood for an era during the mid-eighties which lasted approximately two to four years. With the show's popularity notably waning around 1988 and different color schemes being adopted by the producers for the third season (1986–1987), "Vice"-themed, pastel-toned clothing went out of style, and fashion in general saw a departure from pastels and linen suits with the advent of bright, harsh neon colors, which became the next fad towards the onset of the 1990s. Likewise, the early 1980s were much more about earthtones in fashion and style.

"It has built an awareness of Miami in young people who had never thought of visiting Miami."

William Cullom[6]
Former President of the Greater Miami Chamber of Commerce

The show also had a lasting impact on Miami itself. It sparked a revitalization of the South Beach district of Miami Beach, as well as other portions of the Miami area, and increased tourism and investment. The fact that Crockett and Tubbs were Dade County officers and not City of Miami police represented the growing notion of metro government in Miami. In 1997, a county referendum changed the name from Dade County to Miami-Dade County. This allowed people to relate the county government to recognized notions and images of Miami, many of which were first popularized by Miami Vice. The Dade County Sheriff's Office now became the Miami-Dade Police Department.

DVD releases

The US Miami Vice Complete Series DVD Box Set

Universal Studios Home Entertainment has released all Miami Vice seasons on DVD for regions 1, 2, and 4. Seasons 1 & 2 were released in 2005, and seasons 3 through 5 were released in 2007.[116][117][118][119] The DVD release of the series had been significantly slow due to one of the signature features of the show: the heavy integration of 1980s pop and rock music. The music was difficult to source the rights to and acquire permission to use.[120] In the November 2004 announcement for the DVD release of the series, Universal promised that all original music in the series would be intact.[116][121][122] On August 21, 2007 Universal announced the November 13, 2007 release of the complete series, with all five seasons on 27 single-sided DVDs.[123] The seasons will be in their own Digipak-style cases, and the set is housed in a faux alligator-skin package.[123] Seasons 1 & 2 contained six single-sided discs, rather than the three double-sided discs in the initial release.[123] The Region 2 version has different packaging, does not use double-sided discs, and although there are no special features stated on the packaging they are contained within the season 1 discs.

DVD name Ep# Release dates Special features
Region 1 Region 2 Region 4
Season One 21 February 8, 2005[116] April 25, 2005[124] July 13, 2005[125] "The Vibe of Vice", "Building the Perfect Vice",
"The Music of Vice", "Miami After Vice"
Season Two 22 November 22, 2005[117] July 24, 2006[126] July 20, 2006[127]
Season Three 24 March 20, 2007[118] May 14, 2007[128] July 5, 2007[129]
Season Four 22 March 20, 2007[118] August 13, 2007[130] December 4, 2007[131]
Season Five 21 June 26, 2007[119] December 26, 2007[132] July 29, 2009[133]
Seasons One & Two 43 N/A November 27, 2006[134] N/A
The Complete Series 114 November 13, 2007[123][135] October 8, 2007[136][137] TBA Same special features from season one.

See also


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