This time around we pair go-fast boats with good music
Another Mann signature long shot appeared in the Miami Vice first season episode “Calderone’s Return Part II“. The longest pre-credit scene of the show, it combines flashbacks of prior Calderone appearances with the detective duo’s sixty mile boat cruise to the islands of the Bahamas, all set to the moody but excellent Russ Ballard song “Voices“.
Don’t look back, look straight ahead, don’t turn away, then the voice it said
Don’t look back, yesterday’s gone, don’t turn away, you can take it on
“Voices” by Russ Ballard
The Chris Craft 390x came with twin Mercruiser MCM370 engines, rated at 370hp each which could push the 390x upwards of 60mph through twin four blade props, perfect for a quick run to the islands.
Unfortunately, the product placement for Chris Craft didn’t last very long because in the second season of the show Wellcraft secured a long term arrangement to have their SCARAB 38 KV appear for the rest of the show’s run. This would cement the SCARAB in people’s minds as the definition of the cigarette boat, the modern day rum-runner.
Music and sports cars are like peanut butter and chocolate.
The classic 80’s television series Miami Vice is notable for showcasing many aspects of popular culture but one of the pioneering trademarks of producer Michael Mann is the pairing of music with long shot scenes. The best known of which is from the series’ pilot episode “Brother’s Keeper” which features the Phil Collins song “In the Air Tonight” paired with a travel scene in the iconic Ferrari Daytona Spyder.
Unusual camera angles showing the lights of Miami reflecting off the car’s bodywork and wheels, along with punctuated dialog give the scene a dream-like quality that goes well with the situation the characters find themselves in, racing to confront the early series villain, Esteban Calderone. The long scene alludes to the popular conception that time slows down in stressful situations and gives the viewer the feeling that Crockett and Tubbs may not make it through alive.
Well, if you told me you were drowning, I would not lend a hand
I’ve seen your face before, my friend, but I don’t know if you know who I am
Well, I was there and I saw what you did, I saw it with my own two eyes
So you can wipe off that grin, I know where you’ve been
It’s all been a pack of lies
In the Air Tonight by Phil Collins
These types of scenes mix two mediums for an effect that is stronger than either used alone. This is something not easily replicated in other mediums such as books or role-playing games, though computer gaming can emulate the effect these days due to realistic graphics and big budgets in triple-A titles for licensed music. Despite books and role-playing games not being able to mix mediums well, these type of iconic scenes have served as the inspiration behind many written word examples as authors strive to invoke a similar slow time, flashback effects.
I know I used lots of Miami Vice inspiration when running Top Secret/SI games as I like the undercover, gritty effect more then the over the top James Bond style of story. Even with some of the camp of the Miami Vice show, there was a literal gold mine of ideas presented for underworld games.