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.

The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air: Fresh Prince, The Movie

After my dissertation on Murder, She Wrote yesterday, I am truly aiming for a shorter post today. Thankfully, “Fresh Prince. The Movie” is a twenty-three minute episode and not, in fact, a movie.

The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air" Fresh Prince: The Movie (TV Episode 1994) -  IMDb

Over a game of poker, Will tells his friend Jazz that he recently spent time in Alabama as part of the witness protection program because he a mob hit while working in a Philly restaurant. There’s a whole lot in that sentence, so I’ll pause while you take that in.

Will narrowly escaped death himself, but luckily a postal worker arrived and interrupted the hitman. Postal workers — heroes in 2020 — heroes in this one 1994 episode of Fresh Prince. Bizarro episodes are truly timeless.

After Will identifies the hitman in a lineup, the hitman is somehow left alone to fix his hair in the two-way mirror. Will decides to taunt him only to have the hitman punch through the glass and attack him. A guard shows up and saves Will in the knick of time. But the hitman escapes, leaving Will in danger.

The feds send Will to Deliverance, Alabama where he lives in a trailer park and goes by the name “Floyd Palmer.” Will doesn’t love the idea of living in a small unincorporated area. He wants to know where the closest club is. The federal agent tells him, “The closest town is Hatred, Mississippi. I can check if there’s dancing.” Things don’t sound too promising.

Fresh Prince, The Movie - YouTube

That night a shadowy figure hovers over Will as he sleeps. (Meanwhile in the present day, Jazz is so enthralled with the story that he folds on a full house while Carlton wins with a seven high.) Will reveals that the shadowy figure is Uncle Phil! He and the family must assume new identities in Deliverance because they were also being targeted by the hitman — who is still trying to track down Will.

They’re all mad at Will for agreeing to testify against a murderer and ruining their Bel-Air lives. But eventually Uncle Phil comes around and tells Will that he did the right thing. The mood is better for a moment until Uncle Phil remembers he has to start working at the manure plant the next morning.

Will then describes how the hitman searched their vacant house in Bel-Air and found a letter from Hillary to Neiman Marcus asking that they forward her catalog to Deliverance. It’s unclear why this letter is still at the house and not in the mail, but oh well just roll with it.

Wait is this the brother from Everybody Loves Raymond?

With murder literally in his eyes, the hitman heads to Alabama. (In the present day, Jazz needs to go home. But Will and Carlton convince him to stay and keep playing poker because the next part of the story involved an encounter with a bear!) As it turns out the bear is a pet that belongs to another trailer park resident. The bear’s owner, Bertha, takes a liking to Will.

She then accuses him of getting her pregnant and her entire family shows up with shotguns, ready to kill Will This episode suddenly has some really bad To Kill a Mockingbird vibes. As it turns out it’s just a shotgun wedding and not an actual attempt to murder him.

Will persuades Bertha’s father, Hatfield McCoy, to wait until Will’s mother can get to Alabama for the wedding because he wouldn’t feel right getting married without her there. Hatfield is very understanding of this and supports postponing the wedding. Bertha then shows Will a photo she has of him that she will cherish until they can truly be together.

But wait, how did Bertha get a picture of Will?? Turns out it’s a copy of his high school graduation photo. The hitman has posted it around town in the hopes of locating Will. This is where Hatfield and his love of family really comes in handy. The shotgun gang agrees to protect Will and the Banks family.

When he shows up at the trailer park, Will confronts the hitman and says he isn’t afraid because he has “FAMILY.” That’s suppose to be the trigger word for his shotgun gang to jump out and help him. But they’re all passed out from moonshine.

At this point in the poker game Jazz runs out of cash, so Will and Carlton come clean and admit that they made up the whole story to distract Jazz — who is usually a much, much better poker player than they are. Later that night, Will wakes up at 3 am to someone banging on his door. It’s the hitman!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Just kidding, it’s Jazz with a mask that looks identical to the hitman Will made up in his mind. But honestly, that’s way way way scarier if you ask me.

Very Special Bizzaro Lesson: Lying to your friends makes them retroactively clairvoyant, which is scary as shit. I would just need to be sedated forever if I was awakened at 3 am by a physical manifestation of a spooky fantasy.

Bizzaro Episodes: The Most 2020 Trope

2020 has been nothing if not bizarre. So let’s round-out the year with a look back the moments when your favorite tv shows got well, weird.

So in case you’re like — hey, hey wait as second what is a bizzaro episode anyway? It’s anytime a show breaks from form or tone in such a remarkable way that the episode gives regular viewers an uncanny feeling. As Pop Culture Crime says of one dark episode of I Love Lucy, “I felt like I was in the midst of a weird fever dream.” If that’s the vibe you’re getting from a show you regularly watch (unless that show is Twin Peaks) then chances are — you’re viewing a bizarro episode!

Stay tuned this week for an in-depth look at bizarre episodes of The Mary Tyler Moore Show, The Fresh Prince of Bel Air, Miami Vice, and Murder, She Wrote.