Friday, August 14, 2015

31 Day Miami Vice Challenge, Day 7: Favorite Minor/One-Time Character

Miami Vice had, if anything, a colorful cast of minor characters, ranging from the goofy - Izzy Moreno - to the truly terrifying - the assassin hired by Calderone in the first season. For today's challenge, though, I'm going to stick with non-villains, because that gets its own challenge next!

Who I chose for my favorite minor character was phased out pretty early in the series because of negative fan reaction ... probably. While I found him charming and amusing, I can definitely see why people would wish for his untimely, and undoubtedly painful death. He was comedic relief, much like Switek and Zito were, and when the show took a more serious tone, the writers excised him, and his last appearance was in Season Four's "Missing Hours," quite possibly one of the worst episodes of the entire series.
Via Return to the 80s
Yes, I am indeed referring to Neville "Noogie" Lamont, a somewhat accidental confidential informant of Sonny and Rico and a happily amoral conman. He's hapless and incompetent, somehow surviving on the mean streets of Miami through his ability to talk his way out of anything. Noogie only appears in a handful of episodes, but they are all mainly within the first season. His last two appearances were in "Trust Fund Pirates" from Season Two and the above-mentioned "Missing Hours," which means he wasn't in a single episode of Season Three. That kind of makes sense because he didn't really fit within Dick Wolf's change in direction, but it was a symptom of the gradual decline in the show when he didn't even offer to help the squad with whatever criminals they were dealing with.

Noogie wasn't the smartest of criminals, like I said previously, but he seemed to know that playing both sides of the criminal world was a way to keep himself safe ... ish. In his first episode, he was held hostage by drug dealers after the police arrested the wrong men and ended up getting shot, and in later episodes, he is basically threatened by Crockett and Tubbs to give them information, even when he's getting married to the hilariously bimbo-esque Ample Annie*. But he decided it was worth it so he could continue to live off the grid, using the cops (although we don't often see this side of things, so that could all just be in Noogie's head) when he needs them in return for his "services."

I'd be remiss if I didn't mention the racism involved with his character, although I don't feel Noogie's race necessarily plays into things as much as, say, Izzy Moreno's does. The casting director could have easily placed any other actor into the role but picked Charlie Barnett, a comedian with a natural flair for the overly dramatic. Writing him as a bumbling moron was problematic, sure, but I'm not entirely sure it was the intention to attribute that to Noogie's being black. But that is a discussion I'll be having with myself later on this month.


* Ample Annie is a close second on this particular challenge. Her attempt to sing in the episode "Buddies" while doing a shimmy is quite possibly one of the funniest things ever on Vice. Also, their wedding is an inspiration to every human being on the planet. 
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