In the Air Tonight

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.

Too bad it is a Corvette kit car instead of the real deal, but beggars can’t choosers

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.

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