Video: Cool Cops, Hot Show

With flashy visuals and a rock score, Miami Vice sets a new TV beat

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With virtually all filming done on location in Miami (at an average budget of $1.3 million per episode, compared with $1 million for a typical cop-show episode), the show goes to unusual lengths to find the right settings and props. "I found this house that was really perfect," says Roth, "but the color was sort of beige. The art department instantly painted the house gray for me. Even on feature films people try to deliver what is necessary but no more. At Miami Vice they start with what's necessary and go beyond it."

The show's directors are encouraged to look for creative ways to use music. "What I wanted to do was not to use music as just background but as psychological subtext, if you will," says Thomas Carter, who directed the pilot episode. "What I felt was happening to Crockett at one point was he had lost touch with reality. His marriage had fallen apart, and he had discovered that his ex-partner was leaking information to the bad guys. So I said, 'I want to do a sequence with Crockett and Tubbs in a car, lay some music over it, and I think they should drive somewhere.' I came up with the idea of using a Phil Collins tune, In the Air Tonight." The song, combined with striking shots of the street lights glinting off the detectives' sleek black Ferrari, gave the scene a mournful resonance. Says Carter: "That is probably the prototypical Miami Vice sequence."

Unlike other TV shows that have utilized rock music, Miami Vice can spend more than $10,000 per episode buying the rights to original recordings, rather than using made-for-TV imitations. The selections have ranged from '50s hits like the Coasters' Poison Ivy to recent numbers from Todd Rundgren, U2 and Frankie Goes to Hollywood. The rest of the show's bracing musical score is supplied by Jan Hammer, a Czech-born composer, using sounds stored in a digital computer synthesizer. Working in a state-of-the-art studio in his 150- year-old colonial home near Brewster, N.Y., Hammer composes the score for each episode from a rough cut sent to him by network courier. That is another break with TV tradition. "The old style was for the composer to sit in production meetings, and someone would say, 'Let's put something here,' or 'Let's put something there,' " says Hammer. "We have managed to bypass all that. The only occasional talk with Michael is when he wants even more music."

The same attention is lavished on the show's fashions. On a typical episode, Crockett and Tubbs wear from five to eight different outfits--always in shades of pink, blue, green, peach, fuchsia and the show's other "approved" colors --from such chic designers as Vittorio Ricci, Gianni Versace and Hugo Boss. "The concept of the show is to be on top of all the latest fashion trends in Europe," says Costume Designer Bambi Breakstone, who has just left for a trip to Milan, Paris and London to pick outfits for the coming season.

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