Miami Vice-Season 1 (1984)
Main Menu Introduction
Main Menu Audio & Animation
Featurette-The Vibe Of Vice
Featurette-Building The Perfect Vice
Featurette-The Style Of Vice
Featurette-The Music Of Vice
Featurette-Miami After Vice
Trailer-Knight Rider, Buck Rogers, A-Team, Miami Vice Game
|Year Of Production||1984|
|Running Time||1070:53 (Case: 1068)|
|RSDL / Flipper||
Multi Disc Set (8)
|Cast & Crew|
|Start Up||Language Select Then Menu|
|Region Coding||2,4,5||Directed By||
Universal Pictures Home Video
Philip Michael Thomas
Edward James Olmos
|Pan & Scan/Full Frame||Full Frame||
English Dolby Digital 5.1 (384Kb/s)
Spanish Dolby Digital 2.0 (192Kb/s)
Italian Dolby Digital 2.0 (192Kb/s)
|Widescreen Aspect Ratio||None|
|Video Format||576i (PAL)|
|Original Aspect Ratio||1.33:1||Miscellaneous|
English for the Hearing Impaired
|Annoying Product Placement||No|
|Action In or After Credits||Yes, on some episodes.|
For some time now, Michael Mann has been one of my favourite writer/directors. While some laud his early achievements with Manhunter, my personal favourites are his drama pieces – The Last Of The Mohicans, Heat and The Insider. Each of these films I have seen numerous times, and find more in each time I revisit them. Something about his writing and directing style appeals to me above a multitude of other directors, and he is now regarded as a contemporary cinematic genius (and rightly so).
However, for those who are only familiar with the more recent Ali and Collateral (certainly brilliant films in their own right), you may be curious to know that he developed his style and technique during the course of his TV crime thriller series Miami Vice. Visionary in its day, some would even say revolutionary, those sparks of brilliance still shine bright today, and it has been a pleasure reviewing this series.
Set in Miami and concerned principally with the ins and outs of drug trafficking from South America, Miami Vice is the story of two undercover detectives in the Miami Vice squad – Det. James ‘Sonny’ Crockett, and Det. Ricardo ‘Rico’ Tubbs. Unlike most conventional police stories of the time, however, Miami Vice was often seedy and dark, its characters flawed and human, and rarely did it have an upbeat ending where everything goes in the protagonists' favour. In fact, many of these episodes have a decidedly down ending (it’s curious to note that the working title for this show was in fact “Miami Unworthiness”).
Some time ago I decided to stop doing complete episode rundowns as I was fairly sure nobody read them, and I did not want to give anything away for those of you out there who have never seen this show. If you absolutely have to, you can find good summaries at TV.com. The following sets out how these episodes are arranged on the 8 discs of this season:
Although in some respects less popular than the long running Magnum P.I. (Miami Vice only ran for 5 seasons, whereas Magnum P.I. ran for a staggering 8 seasons), largely due to its adult content Miami Vice is arguably more influential. One can clearly see its influences on other ‘grittier’ TV crime shows, such as The Shield and N.Y.P.D. Blue, but also on other more realist shows, such as Deadwood and The Sopranos, and other shows that would employ a similar style of fashion and music, such as La Femme Nikita and even Baywatch. The dark sense of humour, the down endings, the moral ambiguities – this show was so far ahead of its time.
Also interesting to see are the number of A-list actors in small parts here – everybody from Bruce Willis to Ed O’Neil.
If you, like me, used to sometimes stay home or up late to watch this show, even on reruns, then you probably already own this set, and the DVD release of Season 2. However, if this passed you by during the 80s and its various reruns during the 90s, then I suggest you pick this up. Worth every cent.
The series is presented in 1.33:1, Full Frame - the original broadcast aspect ratio (although this was filmed on Super 35).
The image is excellent, and one of the best I’ve seen of a TV show of this era. Sharp, clean, easy on the eye, my only complaints are some minor aliasing and moire, and one or two spots of cross colouration.
Colour for this series is immaculate, and there was definitely some colour-correction and light correction going on here. This gives the show a real cinematic look and feel, which was the intent of its producers. As Michael Mann said in an interview, “It was like making a 22 hour movie, only you shot all year round, and the pace never stopped.”
Shadow detail is also excellent, with only some very minor graininess evident in low light action sequences. But the producers went to the trouble of actually shooting at night for night scenes, rather than just using a lens filter and shooting during the day. This gives it a whole new authenticity as you can really tell what time of day it is. It looks like it was made for a couple of million an episode (which it was).
Other than the aforementioned aliasing and moire, there is nothing significant in the way of MPEG artefacts and film-to-video transfer artefacts. There is a bit of dirt, particularly during the title sequence, and the odd tear in the film and hair here and there, usually during scene changes. But given the age and medium, this is not surprising. Nor did I find such aberrations to be particularly distracting.
Subtitles are available in a variety of languages. I watched the subtitles in English for the Hearing Impaired. They’re very good, and almost verbatim.
I’ve watched this one and a half times all the way through and I can’t find any dual layer pauses. They’re lurking in there somewhere, and I can’t believe they’re in between the episodes with 3 episodes per disc, and each episode in 5.1 Dolby Digital. That said, I’m just wasting time now trying to find them – they’re invisible.
Audio is presented in an excellent 5.1 Dolby Digital Surround Sound mix, and an unremarkable 2.0 Dolby Digital Mono mix in Italian and Spanish. I listened to the English track the whole way and sampled the foreign language tracks. They are okay, but lack the depth of the surround track.
Anybody familiar with the show will know that music plays a very important part, and I’m pleased to announce that it’s been given an absolutely fantastic remix. I’ve never seen this show sound even remotely this good, particularly with the abundance of classic 80s tracks.
As for the rest, dialogue is clear and easy to understand. There are occasional sync issues, usually where the filming is from a distance and it would have been hard to mike. Post-production ADR is pretty good, though, so the sync faults aren’t terribly obvious or horrendous.
There is a good front sound field, but not a huge amount from the rears, although they usually spark up with the music.
There is acceptable subwoofer use for a 5.1 Dolby Digital mix, but nothing exceptional. Much of this would be limitations of the source. But explosions and machinegun fire often bring the sub to life.
|Surround Channel Use|
All menus are in 1.33:1 Full Frame. The disc home menus have various clips from the credits with a 2.0 Dolby Stereo soundtrack of that well known theme. All other menus are static and silent.
Disc 8 includes a number of retrospective featurettes that are remarkably interesting from a technical and historic point of view. All are presented in 1.33:1, Full Frame, with 2.0 Dolby Digital Stereo sound:
NOTE: To view non-R4 releases, your equipment needs to be multi-zone compatible and usually also NTSC compatible.
Content wise, R1 and R4 are largely identical, although R4 has more subtitle options. We seem to have received a better set here, with the episodes split on 8 discs, rather than on 3 dual-sided dual-layered discs as they are in R1. Without an R1 copy, I cannot do a direct video-to-video comparison for you, but I imagine that the film-to-video artefacts are also present on the R1 release. If anybody can tell me, let me know.
Miami Vice is probably my pick of 1980s TV shows. Probably the most influential and revolutionary, it still holds up today, thanks largely to the hand of Michael Mann in producing the series. It has its faults, but I’ll take this any day of the week over half the crap that’s broadcast these days. If you’ve never seen it, grab a copy now.
|DVD||Momitsu V880N Deluxe, using DVI output|
|Display||Sony VPL-HS50 WXGA LCD Cineza Projector with 100" Longhorn Pro-series 16:9 Screen. Calibrated with Video Essentials/Digital Video Essentials. This display device is 16x9 capable.|
|Audio Decoder||Built in to amplifier/receiver. Calibrated with Video Essentials/Digital Video Essentials.|
|Speakers||Digital Accoustics Emerald 703G - Centre, Front Left & Right, Rear Left & Right Satellites, Subwoofer|