Miami Vice: Season 5 - Review
Review by Jack Foley
SO THIS was where it all ended… The fifth season of seminal ’80s cop show was its last and possibly worst.
There were good moments, of course, but the show had become a pale shadow of its former self and it was little wonder that it didn’t manage a sixth outing for Crockett and Tubbs.
Part of this has been attributed to the decisions of both Don Johnson (Crockett) and Edward James Olmos (Lt Castillo) to devote more time to potential film careers, but Philip Michael Thomas (Tubbs) was also quoted as wanting to explore more avenues (on TV).
Music composer Jan Hammer also departed at the end of season four, to be replaced by Tim Truman, and fans felt this had deprived the show of one of its biggest assets.
And Michael Mann had also handed the role of executive producer to Dick Wolf prior to the beginning of the third season, some of whose choices were bizarre in the extreme.
One thing was notable in that the show was trying to redefine itself. Most of the humour had been stripped away and there were more attempts to continue storylines over multiple episodes.
The series began, for instance, with Crockett’s continued amnesia and his emergence as a major drugs dealer (in the guise of Sonny Burnett) – a storyline that placed him on a collision course with Tubbs.
It continued once the character had returned to the police force, with Crockett requiring counselling in an episode entitled Bad Timing, before being kidnapped by three homicidal prison escapees.
As dark as such story arcs were, the writing wasn’t as taut and the show’s ability to grip had started to slide.
Standout episodes included Borrasca, in which Tubbs and Castillo attempt to intervene in a drug deal in which government agents want no police interference; Hard Knocks, which focused on Switek’s downward spiral into gambling; Over The Line, which dealt with police frustration in convincing style; and Victim of Circumstance, which found the detectives caught up in one of the more emotive and emotional cases (involving Holocaust survivors).
The two-part season finale Freefall also had its moments, as Crockett and Tubbs headed to a revolution-ravaged Latin American country in a suicide mission to escort corrupt dictator Gen. Manuel Borbon (Ian McShane) back to the US.
But as good as they were, the series was dragged down by some really lame moments – such as Tubbs being held captive in The Cell Within (a precursor to the Saw franchise?) and Crockett having to deal with an annoying relative in Jack Of All Trades. And let’s not forget one of the more wackier moments, Miracle Man, which found Crockett and Tubbs having to deal with a vigilante believes he is a superhero.
For completists, this fifth season of Miami Vice is still well worth owning. It begins brightly and brings things to a satisfying close with a few highlights in between. It’s just a shame that the series creators couldn’t have maintained the quality of its earlier seasons, that helped to develop its reputation as such a landmark series.
For all its grit and style, Miami Vice ended with a whimper rather than a bang.
UK release date: Boxing Day, 2007