Miami Vice: Series 1 [DVD]
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The complete first season of the American crime television drama, starring Don Johnson and Philip Michael Thomas as Detectives Sonny Crocket and Rico Tubbs of the Miami Metro-Dade police 'Vice' department. The detectives investigate a series of murders connected to a Colombian drug baron, an arms dealer selling stolen Stingers, and are assigned to protect crime boss Al Lombard before he is to testify in court. Episodes are: 'Brother's Keeper (1&2)', 'Heart of Darkness', 'Cool Runnin', 'Calderone's Return (1)', 'Calderone's Return (2)', 'One-Eyed Jack', 'No Exit', 'The Great McCarthy', 'Glades', 'Give a Little, Take a Little', 'Little Prince', 'The Milk Run', 'Golden Triangle (1)', 'Golden Triangle (2)', 'Smuggler's Blues', 'Rites of Passage', 'The Maze', 'Made for Each Other', 'The Home Invaders', 'Nobody Lives Forever', 'Evan' and 'Lombard'.
To hear the opening beats of Jan Hammer's percussive, propulsive Miami Vice theme is to be instantly transported back to 1984. But this groundbreaking series, with its cinematic sensibility, cool clothes, and killer soundtrack is no mere blast from the past. It still rocks. This three-disc set would be worthless if it didn't. Music was an integral part of Miami Vice's hip vibe. The soundtrack propelled the stories and established the mood like no series before it. So the first thing you want to know is: Have the music rights been secured for this DVD release? In the pilot episode, does Phil Collins's "In the Air Tonight" still play ominously as vice undercover cops Crockett and Tubbs speed toward a bust? Does Eric Clapton's "Wonderful Tonight" serenade Sonny and Gina on his boat in the episode "One-Eyed Jack?" And what would the benchmark episode, "Smuggler's Blues" be without Glenn Frey's instant classic? From the Rolling Stones on a boombox to Elvis Presley singing "Rubberneckin'" on a TV, Vice's cutting-edge soundtrack has been preserved and honed in 5.1 surround sound glory.
Miami Vice made stars out of Don Johnson, Philip Michael Thomas, and Edward James Olmos, who won an Emmy as the intense, taciturn Lt. Castillo (watching him bust some martial arts moves in "Golden Triangle" is like Yoda cutting lose in Attack of the Clones), but the first season also offers time-capsule glimpses of actors on the cusp of stardom, including a pre-L.A. Law Jimmy Smits in the pilot, a pre-Crime Story Dennis Farina in "One-Eyed Jack," and a pre-Moonlighting Bruce Willis in "No Exit." Miami Vice put a neon sheen on cop-show convention. Its fashion sense (pastel suits, no belt, no socks), and the brilliantly employed freeze frames are still arresting. Miami Vice was a TV watershed, and this DVD set does it full justice. --Donald Liebenson --This text refers to an alternate DVD edition.See all Product description
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Firstly: the good.
The transfer utilises the same Universal masters as the U.S Mill Creek set, however this release has been arranged over 25 BD discs as opposed to the 20 discs of its counter part. So it looks like Fabulous have really maxed out the bit-rate to provide the best possible visual quality. Whether or not that's detectable to the naked eye is debatable - personally I didn't notice any perceivable difference between the two on a decent sized screen. Other good news from the Universal master is that the picture quality is terrific. Miami Vice was originally shot on 35mm and as such has really benefitted from a high def re-mastering. The image is really clean and stable (no damage, wobble, noise or mastering issues) with really bright colours and detail. It's a teeny bit soft in places, (to be expected given the age and resolution of the source), and darker scenes occasionally suffer a bit of black crush but it's seriously negligible. This set is really consistently encoded, with all 112 episodes stand up to the same scrutiny.
The next big plus is the addition of all ported extras from the previous Universal Playback DVD releases. Whilst this isn't a huge amount, it's certainly a welcome addition for completists. Finally, possibly a bonus or not depending on your point of view, the initial pressing of this set included the full version of 'One Eyed Jack' without BBFC cuts. However it turns out that this wasn't a case of cuts being waived, but actually a mistake by Fabulous which unfortunately lead to a required second pressing. I'd imagine that unless you're very lucky, you're likely going to end up with the rectified set.
Talking of mistakes, this brings me onto the downsides:
To begin with there's no original 2.0 stereo track option on any of the episodes, which, when you're dealing with a vintage series is always nice to have. This release has only a 5.1 mix, which is a particular shame given that the Mill Creek set has the original stereo mix for every episode. However, whether or not that's a deal breaker, depends on your personal preference.
Secondly, as with the Mill Creek edition, there are no subtitles. This is a really frustrating issue with certain releases of vintage TV shows. I don't expect multi-language support, but it seems really inexcusable not to at least have subs for the hard of hearing. Apparently however, the inclusion of subs is extremely costly for a set with this sort of runtime.
Thirdly and most importantly are the inherited sound issues from the series one masters (which Mill Creek have subsequently rectified in the States via a replacement program). There are two episodes with phasing problems "Evan" and "Heart of Darkness" and two episodes with only a 2.0 stereo track instead of the 5.1. Have to say I didn't check all of these, but "Heart of Darkness" definitely has the same phasing fault as the US edition and Fabulous have said they are aware of the inherent faults and working on a replacement scheme in line with the same program to replace syndicated A-Team episodes in that set. However for now, at least the net result is that you have at least two faulty discs straight out of the box.
Finally of course, there's the inevitability of the price point. Now I appreciate that Fabulous are a small independent distributor and all of that and to be honest if this were the only set available, it could well warrant that sort of tag given the exclusivity, but from a fan's point of view, you have to be seriously minted or a tiny bit bonkers to be spending an RRP of £179.99. The Mill Creek edition retails at $49.99 which is roughly £38.50. Granted, it's region A, but to be honest with that price difference you could buy a region free Blu-Ray player and still have change.
But I guess it's worth what you're willing to pay and so long as you're willing, you aren't hard of hearing and don't mind contending with sound issues and/or a potential disc replacement programme, you'll clearly love this set. If not, may be worth hanging on for a price drop or an alternative region B release.
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Miami vice takes me back there.
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