I’ve been catching up on Miami Vice recently, and was surprised to find beyond the glitzy 80s MTV playboy cops trappings that everyone remembers, was a solid, and initially an astonishingly hardboiled and uncompromising, and surprising cop drama. People lived, people died, and only pain was guaranteed.

I mean that first three seasons has some brilliant, wrenching, even jaw dropping shows. It also has a few horrendously 80s clunkers, most of them revolving around the painfully unfunny ‘comedy’ relief of its snitches, Noogie and Izzie, played by walking stereotypes. Any show that features them dominantly is “turn-off” material. In addition there were a few episodes that were just padded, moronic, and poorly written and directed.

But thankfully the weak episodes of MIAMI VICE are definitely in the minority.

Today’s review is for a season 3 episode called WALK ALONE….

I just watched season 3 episode 4 of MIAMI VICE entitled WALK ALONE. Man is that frigging good. While undeniably 80s and of its time (the clothes, the music, some of the groan inducing levity or comedy relief), it manages to transcend or transform its weaknesses into a chorus for its strengths. And its strengths are many, this is just some great, riveting, compelling yet incredibly straight forward television.

I had forgotten, or never knew, just how much crap they put Phillip Michael Thomas’ character of Tubbs through in that show. The trappings of glamour contrasting with stories about people doing their best not to fall apart. Add to that this tale of fragile love, and corrupt prison guards is buoyed by a stellar cast of young actors from Lawrence Fishburne to Ron Perlman. And James Olmos’ taciturn Castillo is the epitome of cool.

Olmos has since gained recognition for another popular show, but Castillo remains his definitive role, THE definitive role. A great episode, that is all the more great, because it shouldn’t work, this throwback to a younger, gentler prison age that seems positively civilized compared to the aberration that is the current American penal system. However, the episode does work, with grittiness rubbing shoulders with a fun, easy charm. And while today everything is about the overarching multi-part storyline, there’s a lot to be said about the brilliant self-contained story. Where you can come in on any episode, and be not lost, and more… be thoroughly entertained and treated to a complete story. A rare thing to pull off today.

The strengths of episodic television at its best. An easy A-.

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