Wednesday, August 12, 2015

31 Day Miami Vice Challenge, Day 5: Least Favorite Season

I nearly turned this into a tie because, let's face it, Vice really declined after the third season. Obviously, there are a myriad of reasons as to why this is the case, from its change in slots during its third season, in which the show was competing with Dallas, to the original writers departing from the show after a very successful second season. It could also be blamed on Dick Wolf, who completely changed the tone - by changing the color scheme to more subdued hues and by using what has made his Law & Order franchise so successful: the "ripped from the headlines" technique - and turned it into a much more serious, much darker show. What really offset the incredibly harsh quasi-reality of Miami Vice was that it was portrayed with such a light atmosphere, both with its pastels and its sillier qualities, like Izzy and Noogie, so it was more palatable with audiences that weren't quite ready to see that seedy underbelly of which they'd rather be unaware. And honestly, I preferred it that way. I don't expect a cop show about vice cops to be the equivalent of My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic, but I also was never a big fan of the super gritty character study that was Breaking Bad.

Can you help me find this image's home?
Now, like I said above, the last two seasons came exceptionally close to forcing me into a tie. The fourth season had some absolutely horrible episodes, and the Caitlin/Sonny romance was problematic for so many reasons, and the fifth season was just ... you know when you see the high school football star try to relive his glory days when he's several years past his supposed prime? That's what the fifth season is like. And it's why I had to go with Season Five as my least favorite season. Plus, look at Sonny's hair* above; even Tubbs' unfortunate beard from Season Four wasn't that bad.

Basically, ratings were going down the toilet and of course, producers were like, "It must be because of the color scheme! And not because Season Four had some spectacularly awful episodes and ended on a ridiculous cliffhanger! Or because we stopped being more of an ensemble show** and focused on the disastrous love life of a tanned white dude! We can't fail!" So they traded the more somber blues and greens from the past two seasons and brought back pinks and whites, except for Rico, who sort of always dressed in darker colors because he was a) from NYC and b) a black dude. This was the 80s, remember?

Cliffhangers at the end of seasons always irritate me because it just seems like lazy writing to me. As much as I love Friends, this was one of my chief complaints about the series; every single season ended with a big question that was supposed to entice me to return the following fall, but I was just happy to see the gang again. I didn't need cheap tricks to bring me back. And the ending for Season Four of Miami Vice was just that: a cheap trick to get people interested in the show again. The first part of Season Five was getting Sonny back to nominal after he loses his memory in a boat explosion - because that's what happens when you blow up, I guess - and believes he is Burnett, a drug dealer. Once he does come to his senses, the rest of the season is pretty much Sad Sack Central, where Switek is addicted to gambling, Trudy and Gina are just kind of there, and I can honestly say that I stopped caring completely after Sonny somehow returned to the police force after being part of a drug empire. It's not like I thought the show was an accurate representation of life or anything, but my suspension of disbelief can only go so far.

Now, I will say that several episodes that were released after the season concluded were decent; sad, but decent, especially the one involving Valerie and her drug-addicted friend, except that it dealt with the terrible topic of child sexual abuse and can be difficult to watch. Even those episodes cannot redeem the otherwise underwhelming final season, however, so I tend to even forget that it exists and go back to rewatch the first two seasons.


* I am totally going to do a Sonny's Hair supplemental next, because even if that picture show's something akin to a feathered mullet, you don't see its full glory. And of course, there's the issue of Crockett's ponytail. 
** I know it was always more focused on Sonny and Rico, but the writers really took a dive into the inner workings of Crockett instead of evenly distributing storylines to the rest of the cast. 
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