Miami Vice-Volume 1 (1984)

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Released 19-Feb-2004

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Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Drama None
Rating Rated M
Year Of Production 1984
Running Time 278:51 (Case: 280)
RSDL / Flipper RSDL (21:28)
Dual Disc Set
Cast & Crew
Start Up Menu
Region Coding 2,4 Directed By Thomas Carter
David Jackson
Richard Colla
Paul Michael Glaser
Studio
Distributor

Universal Pictures Home Video
Starring Don Johnson
Philip Michael Thomas
Edward James Olmos
Saundra Santiago
Olivia Brown
Michael Talbott
John Diehl
Martin Ferrero
Belinda Montgomery
Shari Headley
Gregory Sierra
Charles Rocket
Miguel Pinero
Case ?
RPI $29.95 Music Jan Hammer


Video Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame Full Frame English Dolby Digital 2.0 (192Kb/s)
English Dolby Digital 2.0 mono (192Kb/s)
French Dolby Digital 2.0 mono (192Kb/s)
Widescreen Aspect Ratio None
16x9 Enhancement No
Video Format 576i (PAL)
Original Aspect Ratio 1.33:1 Miscellaneous
Jacket Pictures No
Subtitles English
French
Dutch
French Titling
Smoking Yes
Annoying Product Placement Yes
Action In or After Credits Yes

NOTE: The Profanity Filter is ON. Turn it off here.

Plot Synopsis

    In 1987, the band Whiteheart sang in their song Fashion Fades "Ohhh, Miami Vice. You would have paid most any price, but now pastels are past tense." But make no mistake, Miami Vice was for its time the height of 'cool'. We may cringe and laugh now, but this show was as hot as it got, and looking back on it now you can see why. Cutting edge fashion (stop snickering), the latest music tracks and a hip style made it one of the most successful and most remembered television shows ever.

    Television had seen nothing else like it before. The formula used was nothing new: buddy cop show set in a tropical paradise. Hawaii Five-O would do the job for 12 years and Magnum P.I. would take over the role from 1980 to 1988, but as successful as they both were, they did rely on a more traditional formula of delivery. Magnum would use some of the dramatic storytelling elements and techniques that would be used in Miami Vice, but Magnum P.I. would never be described as 'hip', while Miami Vice would be the benchmark for popular culture for several years. From the casual style of Crockett to the New York sophistication of Tubbs to the ultimate luxury location of Miami, if the trend was going to be on the street tomorrow, it would have been seen yesterday on the Vice.

    Created by television writer Anthony Yerkovich and super slick executive producer Michael Mann, Miami Vice was originally going to be called Miami Unworthiness with Gary Cole and Jimmy Smits as Crockett and Tubbs. Gary and Jimmy didn't get the parts and the roles eventually fell to Don Johnson and Philip Michael Thomas. Inspired, if inadvertent casting really made the show and the pair suited their respective roles quite well. 'Sonny' Crockett is the casual, laid back Miami undercover detective with a marriage on the rocks and a razor nowhere in sight while his partner in anti crime is Ricardo Tubbs, a New York cop brought to Miami in search of cop killing drug lord Calderone. Together they made a lethal combination that cruised the streets and waterways of Florida in search of the drug dealers and killers, sometimes succeeding, other times not. This was another thing that made this show stand out from the pack; there wasn't always a happy ending. Bad guys would get away, killers escape prosecution, good guys knocked off. They always said that crime didn't pay, but if you watched this show, you'd think otherwise.

    The show ran from its debut in 1984 until 1989 when it was cancelled. While cutting edge for several years, in later years it failed to be its cutting edge fashionable self and despite the revamping of its fashion style in 1987 (pastels were out and a more European look was in) it never did live up to its heady heydays. Still, the show's quality was good and consistent throughout the years and even after its demise it lived on in the memories of many. Several campaigns have been started to lobby Universal into releasing this classic series on DVD, but there is a slight sticking point: the music. Popular music was a major feature for this show and while its use during its initial free-to-air run wasn't an issue, music rights for DVD release have been a reason that this show hasn't been released as yet in its entirety. Each episode could have as many as 4 or 5 songs popular in the charts at the time. This means that for the DVD releases the rights to these songs would have to be purchased again. A costly exercise as there are some big songs from some very major artists in this show and you would get the feeling that the songs wouldn't go cheap. This would leave Universal with two options: pay the dollars or change the shows to feature different songs created from scratch to fill the void or use cheaper songs of the same vintage to take the original's place. If you think that the second option isn't thinkable, think again. For its syndicated television run and video distribution, the classic 70s and 80s show WKRP in Cincinnati has had to change many of its episodes after its production company MTM Enterprises lost the rights to the songs used in the show. This has meant that the original songs have been edited out and stock music spliced in to take its place. Because references to the actual songs were at times made by the characters on the show, some redubbing has had to be done to remove the song references. Messy, isn't it? And undesirable in the extreme. Still, if Universal doesn't think that there is enough market for the sale of this show on DVD to justify the expenditure, then the redub option might be the one taken. Rest assured, though, that the episodes we have here are in their intact original state with all the original music in evidence.

    So, on with the show. We get a decent package here with episodes from Season 1 and 2, presented in a strange out of order fashion. This is most noticeable when you have the force's original commander Lt. Lou Rodriguez (Gregory Sierra) in the pilot episode, then you have Edward James Olmos as Lt. Castillo in the second episode on these discs and then it's back to Lt. Rodriguez for the third episode. Inconsistent, and as was the case with the Magnum P.I. discs, the selection of the episodes seems at times poorly thought out. Still, again as with the case of the Magnum release, it looks as if Universal is testing the waters in regards to the marketability of these older shows. For my mind, along with the Magnum series, all I can say is please, bring it on!  Oh, and for the love of God, please pay the money for the music rights. Take out the music from this series and you rip out its heart. Pay the extra, don't think about doing anything else. A great series that was a lot of fun. Enjoy.

Disc 1

1. Miami Vice (aka Brother's Keeper Parts 1 & 2) (Pilot Episode: 1984)   -   93:01   Directed by Thomas Carter
Written by Anthony Yerkovich

Starring:   Bill Smitrovich as Scottie Wheeler, Belinda Montgomery as Caroline Crockett, Martin Ferrero as Trini DeSoto, Mykel T. Williamson as Leon Muhammad Jefferson, Miguel Pinero as Orlando Calderone, Jimmy Smits as Eddie Rivera,  Michael Santoro as Corky Fowler, Jossie DeGuzman as Maria Rivera, Harold Bergman as Judge Summer D. Rupp and Darcy Shean as Donna Wheeler.

    Detective James 'Sonny' Crockett is feeling the pressure. After witnessing his partner's death in a drug sting gone wrong, he returns home only to be met with the cold shoulder of his wife who is frustrated that her husband spends all his time away undercover, case after case. With all this weight on his shoulders, Crockett begins his search for the person responsible for the death of his partner Eddie (Jimmy Smits).

    New York cop Ricardo Tubbs has travelled from the Big Apple to sunny Florida on the trail of a cop killer. After witnessing a fellow officer gunned down in a drug sting gone wrong, Tubbs has travelled to Miami hot on the killer's trail. Contacting Lt. Rodriguez about the case, he is teamed with Crockett as it appears that the killing of the two men's respective partners might be linked to the same drug lord, a man named Calderone. At first hesitant to work with the outsider, Crockett is eventually persuaded to help the New Yorker as he might have some leads on the case of Eddie's killer. Still, every time the two get close to any real leads, their cover is blown and they begin to suspect that there might be a leak within the department tipping off their adversary before they get too close. And when a startling fact about Tubbs comes to Crockett's attention, he begins to wonder if it's Tubbs who's the real leak.

    A good start for the series and one that demonstrates all the hallmarks of the show, from the fashion, the music and the filming style that would make Miami Vice a truly memorable television program.

2. French Twist (Series 2, Episode 39: 1986)   -   46:37   Directed by David Jackson
Written by Jaron Summers and Michael B. Hoggan

Starring:   Leonard Cohen as Francois Zolan,  Lisa Eichhorn as Inspector Danielle Hier, Shari Headley as Cindy,  Xavier E. Coronel as Sirat Bandi and Cameron Arnett as David.

    When a young woman witnesses a brutal killing and manages to get photographs of the act, Crockett and Tubbs are put on the case. While Tubbs is charged with keeping a watch on the witness, Crockett starts checking out all the leads. Things are made more interesting as French INTERPOL inspector Danielle joins the case as it may be linked to an international drug dealer. As Crockett gets closer to the killer, Tubbs begins to suspect that Danielle might not be all she appears.

    After an attempt to kill the witness in Tubbs' custody fails, he is sure that they are getting too close to something someone doesn't want to be revealed. And the closer Crockett gets to Danielle, the more Tubbs thinks that she could be the cause of all the trouble with the case.

    A fairly pedestrian episode here with no real surprises or twists. The lovely Shari Headley (Coming to America) stars as the young murder witness. Famous singer and songwriter Leonard Cohen also stars.

Disc 2

3. Calderone's Return (aka Hit List) (Series 1, Episode 4: 1984)   -   46:46   Directed by  Richard Colla
Written by Joel Surnow

Starring:   Jim Borrelli as Felix Castranova, Tito Goya as Carlos Mendez, Belinda Montgomery as Caroline Crocket, Gregory Sierra as Lt. Lou Rodriguez, Ron Taylor as Linus Oliver,  Jim Zubiena as the Argentinean assassin,  Tara King as Susan Castranova and Ryan St. Leon as Billy Crockett.

    Sonny and Caroline initiate their divorce proceedings, but they're not sure if it's the right thing to do. Crockett doesn't have much time to dwell on this, however, as a surveillance job he is in charge of goes pear-shaped and their subject is the victim of a startlingly efficient assassin. Investigations into the death of the drug dealer they were watching leads the pair back onto the trail of Calderone.

    As the hit man hired by Calderone continues to make his marks on various underworld figures, a list is discovered that has the names of all those killed by the hit man. Only one name on the list has yet to be killed...Sonny Crockett. Fearing that his family might be in danger because of the hit man, Sonny decides that Caroline and Billy should leave town and head to a safer location. However, when the assassin hits the isolated house and nearly kills Caroline and Billy, Crockett realizes what Tubbs has known all along: they'll have to take the fight to Calderone.

    This is a great 2 part episode that continues the Calderone storyline established in the pilot. Directed by Richard Colla (aka Richard A. Colla) of Battlestar Galactica fame, this is one of the the better episodes in the series and a great inclusion in this set.

4. Calderone's Demise (aka Calderone's Return Part 2) (Series 1, Episode 5: 1984)   -   45:41   Directed by  Paul Michael Glaser
Written by  Joel Surnow and Alfonse Ruggiero Jr.

Staring:  Sam McMurray as Jimmy "Jimbo" Walters, Miguel Pinero as Orlando Calderone, Benjamin R. Rixson as Chief Albury, Jose Santana as Guillermo Pino, Tito Goya as Carlos Mendez and Phanie Napoli as Angelina Madera.

    Crockett and Tubbs travel to the Bimini islands in the Bahamas in a undercover operation to find Calderone and return him to Florida to face trial. As United States legal jurisdiction doesn't reach to the Bahamas, Crockett and Tubbs will be on their own. Once on St. Andrews Island, they are to contact local law enforcement and appraise them of their operation. In their speedboat, the pair head out to the Bahamas.

    Once on the island, the two check into a hotel and contact the local law enforcement. With promises of co-operation, it's separate ways for the team as Crockett checks out the island while Tubbs attempts to get close to a woman associated with Calderone, Angelina Madera. While Angelina at first seems aloof, Tubbs eventually gets the attention of the woman, and the pair agree to meet again.

    Believing that the pair are on the island unknown to anyone, an attempted hit on the pair indicates otherwise and they surmise that Calderone must know that they're on the island. Meanwhile, Tubbs and Angelina get closer and Tubbs discovers something about her that throws everything up in the air. Still, the pair have a job to do, and it all comes to a head at a huge island masquerade party. Can Tubbs keep himself from trading a law enforcement badge for a chance at revenge on Calderone, and will everyone come out of the whole thing alive?

    A great follow-up to the first episode, this one was directed by Paul Michael Glaser whom many will remember from another classic television cop show, Starsky and Hutch (he was the dark haired one). This is one of the episodes where the whole music rights issue could come into play, as there are some songs here that are integral to the whole episode. Starting out with a great song called Voices by Russ Ballard, it finishes up with the Tina Turner hit What's Love Got to Do With It. Only two songs, but when you see the episode, you'll understand how much music was a part of this show.

5. Florence Italy (Series 2, Episode 38: 1986)   -   46:46   Directed by John Nicolella
Written by Wilton Crawley

Starring:  Annie Golden as Tommy,  Charles Rocket as Marty Worthington,  Stephen Joyce as Frank Tepper, The Fat Boys as Themselves, Danny Sullivan as Danny Tepper, Alix Elias as Beatrice, Marilyn Romero as Florence Italy, Sergio Pereira as Nelson Oramus, Robyn Peterson as Becky Sklar and Patricia Loza as Sally.

    The Indy cars are in town, but there is more than racing in the air when a beautiful young street walker is abducted and murdered. Knowing that the killer might be part of the Indy car circus that has rolled into town because of the exotic car used in the killing, Crockett and Tubbs go undercover as wealthy financiers looking for drivers to sponsor. One driver who comes under the suspicion of the two detectives is driver Danny Tepper. Son of famous driver Frank Tepper, he is questioned about the killing, but as he is able to provide an alibi for his whereabouts on the night of the killing, he's let go. Even so, he seems strangely evasive when questioned about the killing.

    As the pair dig deeper, they find a world of drugs, money and violence that surrounds the race circuit. They also learn that while Danny might not have killed the girl, he might know who did, and he ain't tellin' no one.

    A simple episode set against the exciting backdrop of the Indy circuit in Miami. Former Saturday Night Live star Charles Rocket stars. Charles will be remembered for his small but well acted part in the Kevin Costner film Dances with Wolves as well as for dropping the 'magic' word on live American television during what was to be his last appearance on SNL. John Parr's hit Naughty Naughty features at the start of the episode and again demonstrates the important contribution that popular music made to the show. Although this is an okay episode, I wish that the person that was picking the shows for this disc would have gone back a bit to Episode 34 Definitely Miami staring Ted Nugent, which is one of my favourites and the favourite of many others.

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Transfer Quality

Video

     We get a reasonable video transfer here that serves the material well.

     These discs present the program in its original full frame (1.33:1) aspect ratio that was seen during its original free to air run.

     For television of the mid 80s, this is about as good as it's going to get. Filmed with real film (the old fashioned way, no video), we do get a fair amount of grain to hamper the clarity of the image. This isn't a huge problem considering the age of the program, but is it noticeable on modern display devices. I found the focus to be a bit out on French Twist at 24:04 as well as during Florence Italy at 10:20. These look to be production issues and not a real problem with the transfer to DVD. Shadow detail is okay, but not any sort of benchmark, as would be expected for a television series filmed 20 years ago. I did find the shadow detail a bit lacking during the Pilot Episode at 5:12. This lack of detail, coupled with grain, is fairly bad, but again, fairly expected. I had no issues with low level noise.

     Colour? Pastel, of course. Even if the colour is a bit faded, isn't pastel just faded vibrant colour? Don't worry, even with the age and limitations of the film stock of the time, the beloved pastel comes across quite well. Normal colours fare as well throughout the program. For the most part we have a natural use of colour and this disc portrays these colours well.

     We get a reasonable transfer job here in regards to compression levels. These discs run at an average bit rate of 7.40 Mb/s, which is more than enough to provide a quality, mostly MPEG artefact-free image throughout. At times, the excess level of grain will wreak havoc with the compression program leading to a mess of pixelization and grain. This is a problem that we see quite a bit with some of these older programs and is noticeable here at 47:46 during the Pilot Episode as well as at 7:09 and especially 7:50 during French Twist. As with any filmed program, you will get the occasional nick and fleck visible and this show is no exception. These flaws are more noticeable during the credit sequences as well as during the stock shots used from time to time. Noticeable, for sure, but not a huge problem.

     We have three subtitle options here, these being English, French and Dutch subtitles. I watched several of the episodes with the English stream enabled and found the subtitles to be reasonable and able to convey the general meaning of the dialogue though far from word to word.

     There are two layer changes to be found on these discs, both of which take place within an episode, not between them as would normally be the case. Thankfully, these changes take place during the fade to black parts where the commercials would normally go. Disc 1's layer change takes place during the Pilot Episode at 21:28 while Disc 2's change is located during Calderone's Demise (aka Calderone's Return Part 2) at 26:33.

Video Ratings Summary
Sharpness
Shadow Detail
Colour
Grain/Pixelization
Film-To-Video Artefacts
Film Artefacts
Overall

Audio

     We have a decent but somewhat unusual mix of Dolby Digital 2.0 surround encoded audio along with some Dolby Digital 2.0 mono mixes, depending on the episode. On Disc 1, the Pilot Episode and French Twist are presented in English Dolby Digital 2.0 surround encoded. On Disc 2, Florence Italy is in English Dolby Digital 2.0 surround encoded while Calderone's Return and Calderone's Demise are presented in English Dolby Digital 2.0 Mono. All the French dubs included in this package are in Dolby Digital 2.0 Mono. These tracks serve the programs reasonably well, especially because of the abundance of recorded music in the show. One of the few flaws that I noticed takes place during the Pilot Episode at 30:12 - 30:13 where the audio collapses into the right channel for a couple of seconds before rectifying itself

     There are two audio tracks available here, these being English and French Dolby Digital 2.0 surround encoded audio mixes.

     I found the dialogue quality for this program quite good with the spoken word easily understandable throughout. The only place where I had any difficulty was during French Twist at 24:36 where the dialogue becomes distorted for a short time. I found this to be an isolated case and not a problem elsewhere. I found the audio sync to be quite reasonable for a programme of this vintage and without any major problems.

     Music is a very big part of this show, and I'm happy to report that it is all intact for the episodes presented. The score music for the show comes from composer Jan Hammer and his opening theme for the show is one of the most memorable television themes ever written. It totally encapsulates the mood and style of Miami of the time and fits the show to a tee. Of course, there would be many other contributors to the show in a musical sense as the programme featured many popular artists of the time. This 2 disc set provides quite a few examples of this as we have music from such artists as: The Rolling Stones, Rockwell, Cyndi Lauper, Lionel Richie, Phil Collins (of course), The Pointer Sisters, ZZ Top, Russ Ballard, Tina Turner, John Parr, The Steve Morse Band and Jimi Hendrix. This is not a complete list of artists that contribute to the soundtrack of the episodes included, so you can start to see what an issue the music rights could be for an eventual DVD release of this show. As stated in the Plot Synopsis of this review, the music rights are a major sticking point for the release of this show and if Universal isn't convinced that they can recoup their no doubt sizeable expenditure then they might think twice about releasing the show on DVD in its original version. Let's hope that enough interest can be created to convince them that the expenditure is worth it.

     Where the Dolby Digital 2.0 mixes are surround encoded, they provide a good level of basic atmospheric rear effect. Not dramatic, but consistent with the material and quite complementary.

     There is very little LFE here and what is there is mostly because of the various songs in the soundtrack. Otherwise, LFE is pretty light-on.

Audio Ratings Summary
Dialogue
Audio Sync
Clicks/Pops/Dropouts
Surround Channel Use
Subwoofer
Overall

Extras

     This is a very basic bare bones package with no extras available.

Menu

     After the distributor's logo, we are taken to the Language Selection menu which offers us the choices of English, French or Dutch. After that is the copyright warnings and then the Main Menu which offers up the following:

     The menus are static, silent and full frame. Each episode is divided into several chapters (around 6 each), although there is no chapter menu for each episode.

R4 vs R1

NOTE: To view non-R4 releases, your equipment needs to be multi-zone compatible and usually also NTSC compatible.

     Region 2 has been the recipient of 2 volumes of this show, and what we have here looks to be a blending of the two. Volume 1 of the Region 2 U.K. release features the Pilot Episode along with The Golden Triangle Parts 1 & 2 (Season 1, Episodes 13 and 14), while Volume 2 features Florence Italy and The Calderone's Return Parts 1 & 2. Volume 1 also reportedly get a feature described as Vice Notes which would probably be production notes while Volume 2 features a stills gallery. Both volumes are also said to include scene selections. We get a sort of hybrid version of the U.K. releases with some of the episodes present, but others missing. Region 2 misses out on the episode French Twist while we miss out on The Golden Triangle Parts 1 & 2. Still, we get most of the two volumes on the one package, so ours isn't all that bad. Until I know more about the Region 2 packages, I'll be inclined to call this one a draw.

Summary

     Another classic 80s television show wings its way to Region 4 courtesy of Universal Pictures Home Video, and with luck we can look forward to a series by series release of this great show. As with the rest of the classic shows in this current wave of releases (The A-Team, Knight Rider, Magnum P.I. and Battlestar Galactica), this is one that definitely deserves a complete release. Let's hope that Universal can sort out the music rights for the DVD release and then bring it on. I for one can't wait for the full collection of this show, but this small taste will have to tide me over for now. If you are a fan of this series then this will be one you'll want to have.

     The video is reasonable and well presented in context of its age.

     The audio is good with a nice stereo image and surround encoding that responds well to the old Pro Logic, Pro Logic II or NEO:6.

     There are no extras.

Ratings (out of 5)

Video
Audio
Extras
Plot
Overall

© Sean Bradford (There is no bio.)
Sunday, February 29, 2004
Review Equipment
DVDPanasonic DVD RP-82 with DVD-Audio on board, using S-Video output
DisplayBeko TRW 325 / 32 SFT 10 76cm (32") 16x9. This display device is 16x9 capable.
Audio DecoderYamaha RX-V2300 Dolby Digital and dts.
AmplificationYamaha RX-V2300 110w X 6 connected via optical cable and shielded RCA (gold plated) connects for DVD-Audio
SpeakersVAF DC-X Fronts (bi-wired), VAF DC-6 Center, VAF DC-2 Rears, VAF LFE-07 Sub (Dual Amp. 80w x 2)

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