Thursday, March 27, 2014

The Dr. Mystery guide to "Miami Vice" for gentlemen and gentlewomen of leisure (Part 5: Season 5): The Final Chapter

The epic saga is finally at an end. I have exhausted the supply of Miami Vice episodes, leaving only a Miami Vice-sized hole in my heart. There were many highs, many lows, many ups, many downs, and many inexplicably strange lines of dialogue. For the past year and change, Miami Vice has been the wind beneath my wings, my surrogate father, a weirdly inappropriate uncle, and that guy who tried to sell me weed from his frat house fire escape that one weekend in 1996. But that's all over now. I'm on my own, the only set of footprints on the beach, a lone wolf, a shy bad boy with a heart of gold and no one to look out for me but me. I knew this day would come, but a man can never quite prepare for the day when he has to pack up, move on, and leave his 1980s television show behind. Thanks for taking this journey with me. (wipes away fake tear, chugs flask of leftover Zima)
To be honest, this season was a bit of a chore to plow through. The first two seasons were hilariously awesome, the third season showed some strain but was still 2/3 hilariously awesome, and the fourth season was terrible but in hilariously awesome ways, but the fifth season was pretty tired and worn out. Most Miami Vice fans consider the fourth season the worst, but its over-the-top ridiculousness (alien abductions, serial killers with multiple personalities, a snuff film made by an "erotic performance artist," contraband bull semen, samurai swordfights, ill-fated marriages to pop stars, cryogenically frozen reggae superstars named Robillard Nevin, a boat explosion that gives Crockett amnesia and makes him think he's an evil drug lord) was so, so amusing to me. The fifth season is my pick for the worst. Don Johnson and Philip Michael Thomas are clearly bored with the show and sleepwalk through their performances, the show's distinctive visual style and color palette are replaced by blandly generic '80s network TV blocking and framing and bland cinematography, the rest of the cast is barely on any of the episodes, Jan Hammer's electro-synth music is replaced by Tim Truman's noodly hair-metal blues guitar licks, Crockett's houseboat is only seen once, and his pet alligator Elvis is never even mentioned. The show tanked in the ratings, and the network kept moving it around to different nights. Three episodes weren't even aired until the summer reruns, and a fourth wasn't aired at all because the network got cold feet about its subject matter. The show was tired, the audience was tired, the actors were bored. It was time for the Old Yeller treatment. That being said, there were still plenty of ridiculously bizarre lines of dialogue, interesting guest stars, and moments of entertainment.
Miami Vice began in the most 1980s year of the '80s, 1984, and ended in 1989. It wouldn't have made sense in the '90s. It couldn't have transitioned to a '90s aesthetic. You don't want Crockett and Tubbs investigating grunge- and new jack swing-related cases. It just wouldn't have worked. Here's the final Dr. Mystery recap.

"Hostile Takeover"
Guest stars: Jon Polito is a crazed drug lord named El Gato. Mr. Max Headroom himself, Matt Frewer, is a shady underworld type with connections to several drug lords. Mickey Rourke's ex-wife and a current yoga teacher Debra Feuer is the widow of a drug lord with the hots for Crockett. Victor Argo is not a drug lord but he is a South American comandante. Joe Santos is an ill-fated drug lord. Anthony Crivello is the son of the ill-fated drug lord. His character's name is Miguel. My notes about the episode contain this phrase: "Miguel? -- crazy, crazy hair."
Out-of-context quote: "Nice groceries. Roll over, Beethoven."
This episode picks up where the Season 4 cliffhanger left off. If you remember, Crockett thinks he's a mercenary drug lord because he got amnesia during a boat explosion. It could happen to anyone. My notes tell me that El Gato wears a chain that is a giant gold eagle, and that this episode features the return of Tubbs' awful Jamaican accent.

"Redemption in Blood"
Guest stars: Jon Polito, Matt Frewer, Debra Feuer, and Victor Argo return from the previous episode.
Out-of-context quote: "I am El Gato! You have not died in vain, amigo. El Gato will take your strength. El Gato is a player."
Bonus quote: "What are you boys waiting for? A Christmas bonus?"
Another bonus quote: ""Yesterday he threatened to kill me." "So?"
Polito knows how ridiculous his character is and wisely adds another 12 glazed hams to his already scenery-chewing performance in "Hostile Takeover." From my notes: "Polito is a cross between Pacino's Scarface and Rip Taylor ... & Cheech." Also from my notes: "(Crockett) should have stayed as his (drug lord) persona. Sexy girlfriend, money, slightly better hairdo, sweet jukebox, pet panther." Yes, Evil Crockett owned a panther that roamed freely in one of the rooms of his mercenary drug lord pad.

"Heart of Night"
Guest stars: Bob Gunton is a drug dealer. Rosalind Chao takes over for Joan Chen as Castillo's long-lost former wife. James Saito is Chao's current husband. Michael Lombard is Saito's boss.
Out-of-context quote: "What was he carrying?" "Strange toy birds."
Bonus quote: "You're gonna look like a serious freak and for what?"

"Bad Timing"
Guest stars: Melissa Leo is a bartender Crockett meets while on vacation recuperating from his amnesia and amnesia-related villainy. Pruitt Taylor Vince, Gary Farmer, and William O'Leary are murderous escaped prisoners. Stephanie Roth is Crockett's psychiatrist. Jermaine Stewart, late one-hit-wonder ("You Don't Have to Take Your Clothes Off"), appears as himself.
Out-of-context quote: "I hope you got something to drink and the treasure map."
In a plausible scenario, Jermaine Stewart performs his brand of effeminate dance-pop to a captive audience of murderous prisoners. They hate his music so much, they start a prison riot, and our trio of killers escapes.

Guest stars: Juan Fernandez is a counterrevolutionary who is good at killing and good at being a target for assassination. Brion James is a mercenary intelligence agent for hire.
Out-of-context quote: "Some street punk in New York tried to touch me there once. You know what I did? Had to carve a new face for that sucka!"
Bonus quote: "I let you live, peasant. Thank the Virgin."
Normal quote given a hilarious line reading: "What the hell is happening?"

"Line of Fire"
Guest stars: Barry Primus is an FBI agent. Justin Lazard is a heavy metal-loving witness to a crime who Crockett and Tubbs have to protect until he can testify. Aasif Mandviwala is a doorman.
Out-of-context quote: "They tell me you guys were Vice. I figure, hey, man, that's rippin'. Vice dudes know what's happenin', right?'
Bonus quote: "I hear Miami's a pretty moshin' scene. Insane clubs, huh?"
Another bonus quote: "That was a bonehead play, junior."
Yet another bonus quote: "They shot my boombox. I'm outta here, Crockett."
Sonny Crockett, rock critic: "This speed metal crap is just warmed-over Hendrix riffs played twice as fast and half as well."
I have several things to point out about this episode. Every time Lazard turns on a television, Ministry's "Stigmata" video is playing. Lazard sneaks away from police protection to attend a concert by Rugged Edge, a real local Miami band that combined hardcore punk with hair metal guitar solos. Crockett tries to turn Lazard away from metal by playing him Derek & The Dominos and telling him that metal won't be around in 20 years. Crockett gets into a shootout with a helicopter and EXPLODES it. Crockett and Tubbs visit Lazard in the hospital and bring albums by Anthrax, Megadeth, and Crumbsuckers.

"Asian Cut"
Guest stars: David Schramm is a professor of Asian studies. Russell Horton is a photographer. Julian Brams is a prostitute. Cary-Hiroyuki Tagawa is a crazy nut who loves knives.
Out-of-context quote:  "You don't mind if we talk while my latest acquisition is being mounted?"

"Hard Knocks"
Guest stars: Richard Jenkins is a mobster in charge of collecting gambling debts. Victor Slezak is a sports agent with gambling and mob ties.
Out-of-context quote: "You run a fine organization, Chi-Chi."

"Fruit of the Poison Tree"
Guest stars: Amanda Plummer is a lawyer from a powerful family of lawyers. Paulie Walnuts himself, Tony Sirico, is a gangster. Stephen McHattie is another lawyer. Edgar Allen Poe IV (apparently, he's a distant nephew of the writer) is listed in the credits as "Junkie."
Out-of-context quote: "The man said he didn't have any sauerkraut."
Bonus quote: "You look terrific wet."

"To Have and to Hold"
Guest stars: Miguel Ferrer is the very intense son of a drug lord. Elpidia Carillo is the widow of a drug lord who gets in a little too deep with Tubbs ... between the sheets. Oh, snap. Belinda Montgomery is back as Crockett's ex-wife.
Out-of-context quote: "Wish I'd known you were into the classics. Last two pictures I checked in on, a moth ate a guy's head and a worm slimed Cleveland."
Bonus quote: "You're a very tender lady."
Another bonus quote: "Dr. Tubbs?"

"Miami Squeeze"
Guest stars: Rita Moreno is a hardball congresswoman whose son gets in trouble with drug dealers. Paul Provenza is a drug dealer. Robert Joy is a posh British drug lord with an unhealthy attachment to his pet dog.
Out-of-context quote: "Our transportation plan seems to have gone awry. Most unsatisfactory."

"Jack of All Trades"
Guest stars: John Santucci is a small-time gangster who is owed a debt by Crockett's cousin. Fame's Jesse Borrego is a big-time drug lord with the most ridiculous outfits I've ever seen on television or in life. You need to go to Netflix right now and stream this episode just to see the sleeves on this guy's shirts. From my notes: "It's like Seinfeld's puffy shirt if it was only sleeves or he's wearing two of Steven Tyler's mic stands on each arm."
Out-of-context quote: "I think you're wack. This is stinko."
Bonus quote: "We don't really have time to tally up all the bonehead plays you've made."
Another quote: "Call Dan Quayle. He'll vouch for me."
For some reason, this episode has a bizarre musical score that relies heavily on a capella and fits the scenes about as well as the glove in the OJ trial fit OJ.

"The Cell Within"
Guest stars: John P. Ryan is a criminal Tubbs busted years ago, and he's now a published author and reformed friend of Tubbs. Or is he? L.M. Kit Carson, screenwriter of Paris, Texas and The Texas Chainsaw Massacre 2, is a documentary filmmaker making a movie about Ryan. Richard Gant is a former professional boxer who is now Ryan's bodyguard.
Out-of-context quote: "Maybe he got lucky last night with some literary chick."
This episode would have fit right in with the fan fic-style insanity of Season 4. Ryan kidnaps Tubbs and locks him in the simulated prison in the basement of his mansion, complete with working electric chair, because Tubbs refuses to assist his vigilante crusade to kidnap, jail, and execute prisoners at his own home.

"The Lost Madonna"
Guest stars: Michael Chiklis is a detective and art enthusiast responsible for investigating stolen art. Ned Eisenberg is a drug dealer and thief. Elizabeth Berridge is an art lover and the wife of a drug lord.
Out-of-context quote:  "My work is beyond syntax."
Bonus quote: "The latest exploratory probe into neo-Dadaism."
Another quote: "The painter here is engaged in an aesthetic mysticism."
And another quote: "Dig the prof."
Tubbs goes undercover here as a renegade art professor who is selling stolen art. He convinces because he slicks his hair back. A shirtless musclehead guy with a long ponytail is an angry, inarticulate yet famous sculptor.

"Over the Line"
Guest stars: No one I know (except Martin Ferrero as Izzy).
Out-of-context quote:  "We know that Dr. Dinky tipped Tommy T, but who tipped Dr. D?"
Bonus quote: "Certain reptilian fluids."

"Victims of Circumstance"
Guest stars: William Hickey is a Nazi war criminal. Karen Black is his crazy daughter. John Leguizamo is the younger brother of two murdered drug dealers. Paul Guilfoyle is a crazy white supremacist. Xander Berkeley is a homicide detective.
Out-of-context quote: "The liberal cabal controls the media."

"Freefall: Part 1"
Guest stars: Ian McShane is the dictator of a fictional Latin American country on the verge of revolution. Robert Beltran is his aide-de-camp. Elpidia Carillo is a political activist nun who is Crockett and Tubbs' contact while they are in Latin America. Greg Germann is a lowlife punk.
Out-of-context quote: "Social life in the '80s. Isn't it a kick?"

"Freefall: Part 2"
Guest stars: See above. They're all back.
Out-of-context quote: "You don't just catch fish, you achieve a oneness with them, but I sense that you're not here for pescatorial pleasures."

The Lost Episodes
The next three episodes never aired until summer reruns because the network kept moving the show to different days and times and preempting it for special programming because of low ratings in its last season.

"World of Trouble"
Guest stars: Dennis Farina is back as Al Lombard, the gangster with a heart of gold. Vincent Schiavelli is a scientist who has created HAVOC, a stun gun for vehicles that disables them while they are in motion. Luca Bercovici is an arms dealer with a yacht. Ned Eisenberg is a gangster who wants to kill Lombard. Julian Brams is Lombard's daughter-in-law.
Out-of-context quote: "Wait a minute. This weapon shoots lightning bolts and you say it isn't dangerous?"
Bonus quote: "I never liked your hair."

"Miracle Man"
Guest stars: Jose Perez is a mentally ill ex-drug addict who thinks he's a crime fighting superhero named Miracle Man. Zach Grenier is a tabloid TV reporter.
Out-of-context quote: "I need a place to kick back where the forces of evil can't reach me while I make my plans."

"Leap of Faith"
Guest stars: Keith Gordon is a psychotic college professor, drug maker, and leader of a drug cult. Jennifer Rubin is one of his students and followers who starts having doubts. Laura San Giacomo is an investigator and computer expert. Justin Lazard is back.
Out-of-context quote: "I don't give a damn if you were assigned by Dan Quayle."
Bonus quote: "Me, I'm into surfboards and bikinis. I'm from Long Beach, California."
This episode is hilariously bad and was meant to be the launching pad for a spinoff series about the Young Crimes Unit. Crockett and Tubbs are in the first few minutes of this episode, but after that, it's a whole different show. Justin Lazard, whom you may remember as the heavy metal-loving informant from "Line of Fire," joins up with two other young undercover cops, a Southern boy from Arkansas and a surfer dude from California, as well as computer whiz Laura San Giacomo, and their boss, the old man of the group, Kiel Martin, to work undercover in the young world of young crimes concerning the young. Lazard butts heads with the other two young undercover cops at first. He works alone and he hates California surfer dudes so much, but they soon earn the grudging respect of each other and become best friends forever. In their first case, they're undercover at a club where the live entertainment is one guy lip-syncing to "Sweet Child O' Mine" for a crowd consisting of hair metal rocker dudes, punks with mohawks and safety pins in their leather vests, and asshole Wolf of Wall Street types snorting coke and wearing professional office attire. Needless to say, this spinoff never became a show because this episode was not aired during the regular season and also it was fucking terrible. But hilariously fucking terrible.

This last lost episode was approved by the network, shot, and completed, but NBC decided at the last minute that its depiction of the rape of a young girl was too controversial and pulled the plug. It was never aired until syndicated reruns in the 1990s, making it the only Miami Vice episode not shown in the 1980s.

"Too Much, Too Late"
Guest stars: Pam Grier is back as a New York detective and Tubbs' ex. C.C.H. Pounder is a coke addict and old friend of Pam's. John Toles-Bey is her sadistic drug dealer. Malinda Williams is her pre-teen daughter.
Out-of-context quote: "Esto es un tango, and also a little financial advice."
Bonus quote: "Hey, I am talkin' life's highway."

That's it.