Ever since I heard that Michael Mann was making a Miami Vice movie, I have been gritting my teeth in agony. The show was so iconic of its time, so indelible to the '80s, its ethos and mindset, so groundbreaking in so many ways (seriously -- I could count the ways, but you probably don't want to read my dissertation on why it changed the face of TV any more than you want to hear my list of things I have to do on the house), that the idea of it becoming a two-hour movie just to capitalize on the nostalgia craze for remaking old TV shows into theatrical movies just makes my blood boil. And that it was the series' producer doing it just kind of made me even sicker.
The worst part, the nail in the coffin, though, was casting the execrable Jamie Foxx as Ricardo Tubbs. I could almost kind of handle the fact that Mann was redoing his own creation (and I want to point out that even though he's the name most heavily associated with it, the person who really did the creating and the development was Anthony Yerkovich), and honestly, Colin Farrell might not have been my first choice to update Sonny Crockett, but he's not a bad choice, and he certainly has the acting chops needed to portray a guy whose undercover life is slowly destroying him mentally and emotionally. But I have never been that impressed with Foxx and have in fact actively come to loathe him -- I don't like his face, I hate the fact that he's there more for the party than for the acting, and so this story from Slate yesterday
made me ridiculously, schadenfreudily happy. Poor widdle Jamie and his entourage got scared by macho Michael Mann. It makes my heart happy.
I'm one of Mann's biggest fans, but yes, anyone who works with him has to know going in that he can be a bully and an ass. He flies totally by the seat of his pants, but that's part of his genius, and like most movie geniuses, he fails as often as he succeeds. His visual virtuosity is what made the series so successful -- it was like nothing anyone had ever seen back then, and in a lot of ways, people are still mimicking what he did on a TV series 20 years ago in movies today. And I guess it's both a testament to his creativity and grudgingly a testament to Foxx that they're gearing up for a third movie together. I will be the first person to stand up and say that although Philip Michael Thomas, who played Tubbs, was really not a good actor, he was very believable as the character and he definitely had his moments. And Jamie Foxx just isn't Tubbs. He simply isn't. Farrell can be a decent simulacrum of Crockett, but Foxx is just never going to embody the softer qualities of Tubbs.
I won't watch MV the movie. I certainly am not going to pay for it -- though if Foxx hadn't been in it, I might have, at least when it shows up on TV. I can see some of Mann's standard shots in it in the commercials (I haven't seen the trailer, and don't really want to) -- including the helicopter over the city shot from above, sliding down through the frame, sparkling light below it, which he used in both Collateral and Robbery Homicide Division, his short-lived return to TV a couple years ago and the show feochadn
and I made our vid Streets on Fire to. (Still one of my favorite things we've ever done, and never downloaded off my site. Sigh.)
Miami Vice the series was just way, way too important to me. It was the first thing after the Professionals had stopped airing on Canadian TV, back around 1980, that perked up that fannish gene in me ( four-year dry period!) and made the radar go beep beep beep. When I first met feochadn, in fact, I'd just rediscovered the fannish feelings that had been dormant for such a long time, so I'd made an effort to try to get copies of the old eps (sadly, my partner at the time recorded over all the old Vice eps we had on tape, the bastard), and we would go on, shouting at each other over our excited memories of the series. And it's stayed that way for me -- I have written fic, and may someday write more, and I have about four vids in my head but can't make them because there are only two seasons on DVD, and I'm not sure if there will be more. It appears that Universal is abandoning it, though it's hard to tell, they are such a stupid studio when it comes to TV shows on disc.
And the basic truth is, I don't understand this desire to keep mining television shows for "udpates" with new actors. It just makes no sense to me at all. I know there were people who enjoyed the Starsky & Hutch movie, but I can't help thinking it's because it was a spoof of the series more than anything. But the hash of Wild Wild West, the joke that was Lost in Space, the bomb of Bewitched, and so on and so on and so on, just leaves me gobsmacked at the total failure of creativity and shallow greed. And yet, more of these will be made, even though they often bomb, because one hit like the S&H movie with a good opening weekend keeps the brainless execs coming back for more in the hopes they'll have that one good opening weekend.
And I have no idea what to even make of it when one of those execs is, like Mann, an integral part of what made the series so spectacular in the first place. These days, all people think about Vice is the clothes and the cars. They focus on the cheese. They don't even really understand, because they dismiss it as just a relic of the '80s, how amazing the series was. It had started to decline in its third season, when it was all about hipster guest stars, but by the end of fourth season they pulled it back (largely because Mann came back) with a shocking and incredibly written story arc that had Sonny shooting a (for all we knew, unarmed) guy in cold blood, then being subsumed into his undercover identity so far he almost didn't come out -- and nearly killed his best friend and partner. The series ended badly (with Ian McShane, of all people, playing a Latin American bad guy), and I think, not as true to its nature as it should have, but even at that point, it was still miles above the rest of the stuff on TV. And it should be allowed to rest in peace that way, and not get "updated" with today's flavors of the month just to line someone's pockets.