TIME Magazine discovers Miami Vice (in September 1985, of course)
The seeds of this new cop show were planted in mundane TV fashion, in the Burbank, Calif., office of NBC’s Tartikoff. Trying to figure out how the network might cash in on the success of rock videos, he had jotted down a few notes to himself; one read simply, “MTV cops.” Tartikoff presented the notion to Anthony Yerkovich, 34, formerly a writer and producer for Hill Street Blues, who related a movie idea he had been mulling, about a pair of vice cops in Miami. Yerkovich went to the typewriter and turned out the script for a two-hour pilot, originally called Gold Coast and later Miami Vice.
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.”