Miami Vice: The Lost Hours

This episode opens with Trudy and Stan Switek a stakeout in the outdoor area of a shopping center. While looking for their suspect, they get distracted by two men sword-fighting in 1960’s esque space alien costumes. Stan recognizes them from other stakeouts and says their always connected to a crime wave that follows them. They don’t seem to be clear on whether or not these guys are involved with any larger conspiracies or if they’re just a couple of monkey-wrench abstract theater performers who also commit ad hoc crimes. Regardless, Stan isn’t maintaining a low profile around these two. He yells at one of them for grabbing a passerby’s ass and also call him out for pick-pocketing a separate individual.

Shortly thereafter the man Trudy and Stan appear to be waiting for arrives in the courtyard. Stan points out another shifty looking dude and asks Trudy to keep an eye on him while he pursues their suspect. Trudy’s mark appears mesmerized by the sword fighting aliens and then seems to have some sort of panic attack that involves him ripping his own shirt to shreds. He then rushes up the stairs and throws his body through a plate glass window. There is truly never a dull moment on Miami Vice.

Let me preface this post by saying this is not a good episode. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, Miami Vice was consistently best in its first two seasons with some great episodes peppered throughout the latter three. This season four episode is an example of the weaknesses that plagued the series in its final years. It’s truly unfortunate because Trudy is one of the most underutilized characters in this show and she’s the unequivocal the star of this one. I wish the writers had given her better material to work with.

The bizarre plot elements start off very quickly in this episode. Trudy saw the man crash through the window and she saw him bleeding out from his carotid artery. But at the morgue, the medical examiner tells her that the man only has a superficial scratch over his carotid.

Also, am I supposed to believe that this is a morgue with the weird art posters and poor lighting?

Back at headquarters, Trudy goes over the case with Tubbs. Everything about the dead guy’s personal effects seems pretty normal except that he was carrying twenty-four jars of peanut butter in a shopping bag and had over a thousand dollars in cash. He also carried a strange photo of what appears to be a very sad looking houseboat.

Based on photo alone, Trudy tracks down the mysterious location in the next scene. Clad only in teal stilettos and a bright purple scooped-back body-con dress, Trudy boards “The Sapphrophyte” and encounters MORE JARS OF PEANUT BUTTER. They’re all opened and arranged in a circle on the floor.

As an orange mist rolls across The Sapphrophyte, James Brown joins her. I think it’s better if you watch this part for yourselves.

This must have been cutting-edge technology for 80’s TV. I wonder how much they spent on this.

Meanwhile the dead man’s wife shows up at the station and wants to talk to Trudy, but no one knows where she is. She hasn’t been in all morning, so they assume she’s sick. Crockett talks to the grieving wife in Trudy’s stead. He learns that her husband disappeared under mysterious circumstances and she hasn’t seen him for two years. She was with him at the time of his disappearance and woke up with a circular pattern shaved into her hair. She also couldn’t account for the past twelve hours. THAT IS ABSOLUTELY TERRIFYING.

At the morgue, his wife is unable to identify the body because the body is MISSING. Evidently, Trudy has signed for its release. Back at headquarters Tubbs determines that the name of the mortuary Trudy listed on the release form is fake. And Switek confirms that the address is that of a Dairy Queen. Then Chris Rock (playing electronic file clerk, Carson) starts talking about the vice team being mentioned on the “Starchaser Bulletin Board” — a “computer bulletin board” he’s part of but Gina brushes him off.

Castillo asks Carson to tell him about the board. Carson clarifies that Trudy was actually the only one mentioned. The board is dedicated to UFOs and the dead man appears to be from the “Elko Abductions.” Castillo asks for the backstory on the abductions and Carson begins to describe how two couples — oh wait sorry we don’t get to hear because suddenly Trudy walks in singing “I Feel Good” like nothing at all strange has happened. The team stares dumbstruck as she walks over to her desk and burns the photo of The Sapphrophyte.

Understandably, the team starts asking her a whole lot of questions. Trudy insists she didn’t sign the body out of the morgue. She also says she spent the night partying with Lou De Long (James Brown). She explains that she met him at the dead guy’s houseboat. When Castillo asks why she burned the photo, she just shrugs.

Carson asks Trudy to tell him the name of the disco or explain it in anyway, but she isn’t able to. She says it was like a dream. Carson tells her that she has “memory displacement,” which happens in alien encounters. So Castillo has him removed from the room. Gina is tasked with getting Trudy to a doctor while Crockett and Tubbs track down Lou De Long.

They find him at a seminar on alien abductions. Tubbs and Crockett introduce themselves to Lou and tell him that they all know Trudy. When he denies knowing her, Tubbs calls him a scammer and threatens to expose him unless he gives them info about what happened with Trudy.

Lou denies that the alien thing is a scam, but he does say that the experience of alien abduction is not one that he would recommend. They take him to see Trudy and she’s shocked that he’s middle-aged. You see, the Lou De Long that Trudy went to the club with was young Lou De Long and he looked just like the man the record she’s had since she was thirteen.

When Trudy realizes that Lou’s signature isn’t on the album that she thought he had signed for her the night before, she starts to unravel. Lou explains to her that the abductors take memories and use them. He believes her but he wasn’t with her. With Lou’s help, Trudy begins to remember “two men with weird eyes and purple auras.”

Castillo tells the team to go back to the houseboat and see what they can find, but no one can find it. None of the reports contain the address. While the detectives try to figure out how to track down the houseboat, Carson states the obvious: just ask the wife.

The wife is staying at the “Tropical Motel.”

As they pull up to the hotel, Crockett and Tubbs see the wife being thrown into a black sedan by two suits. They try to follow the car, but their car won’t start and a bright blue beam of light descends upon them. After the light passes, Tubbs uses a nearby pay phone to call for help while Crockett works on the car.

Crockett gets the car working again, so he and Tubbs decide to investigate the wife’s motel room. Tubbs supposes for the sake of argument that the abductions are real. It would stand to reason then that the wife was taken because the aliens don’t want her to reveal the location of the houseboat. Tubbs also posits that Carson might be an alien plant. This is all too much for Crockett who decides it’s too crazy to even think about.

He does, however, agree that Carson has been a little suspiciously close to the case. He decides to pull Carson’s record. Tubbs decides to keep investigating the alien angle on his own.

Meanwhile back at her apartment, Trudy is extremely on edge. So she decides to undergo hypnosis. It looks a little something like this:

Through hypnosis, Trudy is able to remember the location of the houseboat. When Trudy and Gina return to the houseboat, they find the wife’s dead body. Meanwhile a man who looks suspiciously like someone who was hanging around Lou De Long’s seminar watches them from close by.

Gina notices that the wife has a circle shaved into the back of her head. When Trudy crouches down to get a closer look, Gina notices that Trudy’s head has a similarly shaved spot. (She’s somehow able to see this even though none of us can see it when we look down at Trudy’s head.) When Gina points this out to Trudy she understandably freaks out.

Elsewhere, Tubbs talks with Lou again. This time in the middle of a crop circle with his gun drawn. Except it’s not really a crop circle, it is a “Jacob’s Ring.” Lou explains that this kind of pattern is created by spaceship landings. Lou says he’s there to wait for the “sponsors.” Tubbs clocks a couple of men watching them through binoculars but doesn’t mention it to Lou. Tubbs asks Lou who the sponsors are, but Lou doesn’t know and doesn’t seem to care. He’s just there to drop off the records from the seminar in exchange for $2,000.

Tubbs bids farewell to Lou and hauls ass out of there, getting involved in a game of chicken with the binocular men’s car along the way. Lou watches with a cheerful smile on his face as the binocular men’s car falls off a precipice. As they emerge from the wreckage, Tubbs holds them at gunpoint. Then and Lou have a fairly pleasant conversation with them.

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The binocular men explain that they are federal agents conducting nuclear tests in Dade County. It’s all super duper top secret because of the Cold War. They say that everything Lou’s seminar attendees mistook for alien activity was actually related to their tests. Tubbs pushes back and says that doesn’t account for the missing people and the lost memories. The feds say these are all mere coincidences. Tubbs figures the dead man must have seen more than he was supposed to and that the feds did all of this weird shit to cover it up. But they say that they had nothing to do with any cover up. (Of course they would say that.)

Still working the alien abduction theory, Carson calls Trudy and tells her they need to investigate the houseboat again because he thinks it may be a communications station. Elsewhere, Crockett explains to Tubbs that Carson’s background looks clean. However, he’s brand new to his job and skipped his night school class at the community college that night. When Tubbs calls Switek to check on Trudy, he says she isn’t at her apartment, but she left a note saying she is with Carson.

Crocket and Tubbs race to the houseboat. (The creepy guy is still nearby.) Tubbs sees Trudy on the deck of the boat. She seems pretty out of it again. Crockett finds Carson in the cabin. Carson explains that someone was tugging the houseboat when he and Trudy arrived. The creepy guy then appears behind Crockett and shows him the ownership papers. Evidently, the dead guy left the houseboat to Lou’s seminar program.

Crockett, Tubbs, Carson, and Trudy leave the creepy guy behind on the houseboat. And as soon as they depart, a light turns on by itself, the radio starts whirring, and the cuckoo clock cuckoos. Shortly thereafter, the engine dies on Crockett’s speedboat. Behind them, they hear the tugboat horn. As they all look back, the houseboat explodes into a ball of fire.

Then Trudy wakes up from this horrible dream. Ah it was all a dream! We next see her arriving at work. She opens her desk drawer and…there’s the photo of the houseboat she supposedly burned. And an almost empty jar of peanut butter.

Very Special Bizzarro Lesson: I think first and foremost the key takeaway here is that nothing good ever happens at abandoned houseboats.

Seriously, so much of this episode was bizzare. Not even the subject matter. Lest we forget, 2020 was the year when the pentagon announced they would declassify some UFO program information. But there are soooo many loose threads here that the only explanation is truly: “guess the aliens did it.”

However, the most bizarre thing of all was that this is a Miami Vice episode with essentially no music. There’s like that one James Brown song and maybe one other song briefly while Trudy is in her apartment. Where is the music video vibe I want and need???? And why did they use a real James Brown song and attribute it to a fake character? I guess James’s team was like listen this is the worst script we’ve ever seen. You need to ask them to change your name in the show.

I’m so sorry Trudy. You really deserved better.

Miami Vice: Shadow in the Dark

044e1e853c7493ad7351f236a936a3deVery Special Readers, I give you the scariest episode of Miami Vice ever. While this is not explicitly a Halloween episode, it did originally air on October 31st and it will give you nightmares. It’s a dark and spooky night and this dude is crossing a drawbridge as it opens. It’s just him and like some delivery trucks and he’s making creepy hand gestures like he’s commanding the bridge to open. He should have straight up have been arrested on the bridge, I think. But it’s Miami in the 80’s, which this show leads me to believe was a totally a completely lawless time. So he ends up at this luxurious house. He’s wearing latex gloves and has his boots duct taped to his pants. He’s moaning which oh my gosh I hope is not a sexual noise on his part. It’s not a sexual noise I have ever heard before, but I think this may be par for the course with this guy.

He starts mime-walking with his hands across the glass of this sliding door. And then he just turns with arms outstretched like he’s saying, “Behold the pool area!”

Ugh, no seriously this guy wants to make sweet, sweet love to this house. This is some kind of creepy disorder that you’ve heard about for the first time here on The VSB, bringing you breaking news from 1986.

Omg no, he goes to the kitchen and covers his face with flour. Ugh no, I will never eat cold cuts again. Oh thank goodness, cue the credits.

The next day, Crocket and Tubbs show up to investigate this “cat burglary”where this dude has only stolen pants. You know what, I’m not even surprised. Of course, he only stole pants.

He’s also left a crude lipstick drawing on the wall. (Whoops, looks like I only review Miami Vice episodes with crude drawings). Crockett tastes the lipstick. Wtf. How is that relevant to this investigation??

Oh no, it wasn’t cold cuts I don’t think. They find raw meat all over the kitchen. Oh please tell me he was getting that flour out for some deep frying. Was he eating raw meeting??? (Sorry, taking a brief break because I may be physically ill. Wtf, Miami Vice, where are the drug cartels?? What is this weird depraved, shit???)

Oh by the way, if you were like “What does this have to do with Vice?” Good question. Crockett and Tubbs have been loaned to another lieutenant on this case. His name is Lt. Gilmore and he’s batshit crazy, presumably from spending too much time on this case. He goes nuts, attacks a criminal informant, and is admitted to a mental hospital. Crockett and Tubbs continue to work the case, but now they’re working out of their usual vice office. I don’t know anything about police work, so I’m just going to assume that this weird scenario is perfectly plausible.

mqdefaultWith Lt. Gilmore indisposed, Crockett takes the lead on the case. Having learned absolutely nothing from the cop who just went nuts working this case, Crockett tells Castillo that he needs to start thinking like the burglar. So he starts speaking in insane babble and staying up all night. And then he just drives his car to like the middle of nowhere suburbia and is all spooked at the noises of birds cooing. And there’s tons and tons of lipstick drawings all over the road and street signs. OH WAIT JUST KIDDING IT WAS A DREAM. He wakes up at his desk. Then he takes his vice team on a stakeout. But it’s a crap stakeout because they’re all standing outside of a sports car bemoaning the fact that they haven’t seen anything. They give up and go home and the cat burglar is in a house RIGHT NEXT TO WHERE THERE CAR WAS. Omg. Someone is NOT getting re-elected over at Metro-Dade.

At the hospital, Crockett and Tubbs do a really terrible job of questioning this trauma victim. But Crockett says,”I’m starting to get a sense of when this guy’s gonna move. And this time, he’s gonna go further.” I’m not sure how he got that from tasting lipstick paintings but fine. Lt. Castillo tells him that if there is not a break in the case soon, they will send the case back to burglary.

Cut to: Crockett playing with flour, raw meat, and red lipstick. Omg he’s putting flour on his face. Crocket, stop. This makes no sense!

Crockett continues to spiral out of control until he and Tubbs are pulled from the case. I mean, Tubbs has basically not even been working the case. But he can’t get Crockett to stop. Crockett took pictures of all of the houses in the area and he’s sure that he’s selected the house that the burglar will hit next. He somehow convinces Tubbs that if Lt. Gilmore picks the same picture that Crockett has picked, then the lead is good. Cause they’re both so “tuned-in” to the case and all.


Hahhaah oh my gosh what am I watching?? Luckily, Crockett gets to the house just in time and stops the burglar, who has now gotten a little stabby. Happy Halloween, yikes.


Very Special Halloween Lesson: Work-life balance is so, so important, guys. So important. I cannot stress this enough.

Oh P.S. there’s a good chance that literally all of this was a dream because Crockett wakes up in a cold sweat in bed on his boat at the end of the episode.

Miami Vice: Little Miss Dangerous

I know we spend a lot time talking about the great silliness of very special episodes But the fact of the matter is that watching too many very special episodes can create long-lasting and real-life repercussions. Take for example, this cautionary tale from Miami Vice.

Ordinarily, Detective Ricardo Tubbs is smooth and collected. But in “Little Miss Dangerous” he basically loses his shit because he creates his own little very special episode in the midst of being in the underbelly of the Miami sex trade world. Or would that entire world be an underbelly? Can you have an underbelly of an underbelly? Anyway, suffice it to say that Ricardo Tubbs probably watched the refrigerator episode of Punky Brewster right before working this case and it definitely affected his sense of reality.

I’m pretty sure this is just the re-purposed exterior that they use for the precinct.

This episode opens with the titular character performing in an S&M show with her boyfriend, except that it’s really more like an interpretive dance. And aside from one pudgy sad looking-man standing outside of the club with a beer and a shit that won’t cover his gut, all of the patrons are clean-cut looking and smiling appreciatively at the spectacle while jovially glancing at one another like my isn’t this high quality entertainment we are experiencing here in Miami! So basically it feels like something you’d see on a cruise ship.

In between shows, Little Miss Dangerous (played by a singer I’d only heard of because of this show. Also, she has hair like Tiffany) finds a john who offers her $90 to sleep with him. According to the CPI Inflation Calculator, that would come to $195.96 in today’s world. Her boyfriend tries to talk her out of it, saying she’s an “actress” not a “prostitute”. But she’s all like “It’s 90 bucks,” which leads me to wonder how much they’re being paid to do the S&M show. (See what I mean by underbelly? No one should have to do that math for a living.) Then mid-coitus she stabs the john with a switchblade that was just casually lying on the bedside table.

So like I guess this dude was pretty trusting to allow a complete stranger into his bedroom with a weapon within arms reach. Her boyfriend starts to worry because she’s been gone longer than expected, so he heads into the building and discovers her cowering in the corner and cradling the knife, having burned the dead guy’s clothes. And he’s all like okay let’s just go home.

Okay, maybe it’s not the same building, but it has a pretty similar basic shape.

Castillo tells the Vice Squad that finding the killer is their top priority and that “all days off are canceled until further notice.” That sucks. I mean I guess this took such a priority because the dude she killed was a sailor? Oh no wait, it’s because they found a creepy crayon drawing by his body and apparently connected it to a string of other murders. Thus, Castillo has the team raid the red light district.

That’s where Tubbs meets Little Miss Dangerous a.k.a. Jackie. I guess he thinks she’s automatically innocent of any crimes because her voice sounds like she has a constantly stuffy nose, like Copper in The Fox and the Hound. Or the girl who played Pippi Longstocking in that awful Pippi Longstocking movie. Anyway, Tubbs is all like that poor kid. So like basically Tubbs is about to get majorly overly involved.

They arrest Jackie’s boyfriend because a bag-lady saw him drop one of her creepy crayon drawings. And then Crockett has to through Tubbs out of the room because he’s getting like way too personal. It turns out that her boyfriend is just another lost soul and like really does love her and definitely didn’t help her kill anyone. But Tubbs is still like way too close and worries that the boyfriend will hurt Jackie, so Castillo allows him to watch him but says “do your social work on the outside.”

But Rico doesn’t listen. He sends Jackie to the safe house and then goes with Crockett to watch the S&M show. I guess as like…research? I’m not really sure what the point of that was. Anyway, it’s good for the boyfriend that they went to the show because now they can provide him with an airtight alibi since Jackie was out killing someone else when she was supposed to be at the safe house.

Instead of looking at the next logical suspect associated with the dude who had evidence but clearly isn’t the serial killer, Tubbs decides to bring Jackie some fruit and discuss how she grew up in an orphanage. She says some seriously red flag things about not being good enough for love or whatever and he still doesn’t get that she’s kind of unstable. And then she falls in love with him, of course.

But one thing Jackie didn’t account for is that leaving her boyfriend means that he won’t cover for her anymore. He calls Crockett and promises to tell him who the killer is. Meanwhile, Ricardo tries to let Jackie down easy and is encouraging her to have an independent life. But she talks him into staying that night with her because the safe house is big and scary.

That night, Jackie drugs Ricardo. And Crockett goes to her apartment and sees all of her creepy drawings and realizes that Jackie is the killer. So he races to the safe house as Jackie’s boyfriend follows behind on him motorcycle. I guess turning Jackie in was all an elaborate plot to find her? In the midst of all this, Tubbs wakes up to find himself handcuffed to the bed and Jackie’s clothes and drawings on fire beside him.Jackie’s all like “I don’t want to hurt you.” And gets ready to shoot herself, I guess to stop her from shooting Tubbs? Does she not realize she’s just going to leave him to die in a blazing inferno? Crockett is about to shoot the lock on the safe house door when her boyfriend decides to break it down by riding his motorcycle into it. Just at that moment, Jackie kills herself. But at least Crockett is there to put out the fire and save Tubbs.

Very Special Lesson: Don’t try to very special episode people in real life. Okay so Miami Vice isn’t real life, but if you don’t learn from Tubbs’s mistakes, then I don’t know how to help you.