As Hollywood legend has it, Miami Vice began life with just two words scrawled on a scrap of paper by NBC executive Brandon Tartikoff: “MTV cops.” The television landscape had been revolutionised on 1 August 1981 by the launch of MTV, which ushered in an era of slick, glamorous music videos with high concepts and higher budgets.
When Miami Vice debuted in 1984, the show lived up to its initial pitch with a rock’n’roll soundtrack, fast cars and a flashy wardrobe provided by Armani, Versace and Hugo Boss. But it was also darker and more cynically subversive than it has since been given credit for.
A hugely popular hit throughout its six-year run, the show was rebooted in 2006 by original executive producer Michael Mann as a film starring Colin Farrell and Jamie Foxx which has gone on to become a cult favourite. As Mann returns to the small screen with Tokyo Vice – a new series based on US journalist Jake Adelstein’s memoir about crime in Japan – it’s worth remembering just how ground-breaking the original Miami Vice really was.