Evil under the sun

Evil under the sun

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Publié dans New York Magazine
Date de publication 8 octobre 1984
N° de publication Vol. 17, N° 40
Pages 80-81

Television / John Leonard

Evil Under The Sun

"… Miami Vice isn’t about Miami ; it’s about its punch-drunk, image-besotted self, a savage cartoon of the way we see and feel…"

Miami Vice (Fridays; 10 P.M; NBC) IS TO look at. Of course, it has a plot, and actors who articulate more or less intelligibly. ("Give him an inch – and he thinks he’s a ruler" says one of these actors to another.) It has sports cars and speedboats and dogs that smell dope and even an alligator named Elvis, who used to be the mascot for the University of Florida football team. (Imagine an alligator that is droll, all 10 feet of him, on a 40 foot sloop in a Miami marina under a hammering sun on broken water.) And because i twas "created" by Anthony Yerkovich, i twill remind you of Hill Street Blues. (It will also remind of Brian De Palma’s remake of Scarface, in which art met sleaze and art lost.) But Miami Vice is about colors and shapes in violent motion, a kind of rock video for the bloodshot eye.

For at least three minutes on the two-hour pilot of Miami Vice, I found myself staring at the wheel of the car. This wasn’t even steering wheel of the car. It was one of the four wheels that roll around on the road. I was supposed to be thinking about Panamanian shimpers and Colombian drug deals and crooked cops and fathers and sons, bu I was staring at a wheel, admiring a tire. Later on, I would stare at and admin a pier. Toward the end, I was obsessed by a garage.

The feel is French: Cocteau on one of his benders wherein whimsy conflates with decadence; or Godard in Alphaville; or Diva, when the Oriental teeny-bopper roller-skates in her Parisian penthouse or peels an orange in her white Matisse tower. It is Post-Impressionist painterly: smolder and throb. Thinking is pointless. We’re in a world of Fauvism, of pure color and disjointed planes.

On Miami Vice, the two undercover cops don’t get along "style and personawise." One of them – Sonny Crockett, played by Don Johnson – is homegrown, white, with sloop and ‘gator and Harry Truman sport shirts. When he isn’t being angry, he misses his son and mourns his marriage. (There are, we are told, sixteen Miami Vice cops, and they are "batting .250 on marriage.") The other – Ricardo Tubbs, played by Philip Michael Thomas as an acceptable Sidney Poitier facsimile – is a renegade New Yorker, black and beautiful, gone south to avenge the murder of his brother by the cocaine baddies. Whether they are busting nose-candy smugglers or, in a subsequent episode, a porno king who may or may not have FBI connections. Crockett and Tubbs do not so much conspire as they collide; they bounce off each other’s walls when they aren’t climbing them.

According to various newspaper reports, the city fathers of miami are not happy with Miami Vice. It isn’t exactly an ad for Eastern Air Lines or a press release form the chamber of commerce. It is more like the latest circus canker. These city fathers have not, presumably, read Elmore Leonard or John D. MacDonald or the Miami Herald. I don’t see why every car crash on network television has to happen in Brooklyn or Beverlly Hills. Besides Miami Vice isn’t about Miami, any more than the season’s premiere of The A-Team was about Miami. It’s about its punch-drunk an image-besotted self, a savage cartoon of the way we see and feel. I like it, so far, a lot.

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