Sunday, August 25, 2013

No. 284 – Voices

Performer: Russ Ballard
Songwriter: Russ Ballard
Original Release: Russ Ballard
Year: 1984
Definitive Version: None.

I can’t hear this song and not think of Miami Vice. It doesn’t matter that I haven’t seen the episode in question in nearly two decades; I can’t think of anything but Crockett and Tubbs in the cigarette boat blasting through the waves at sunset heading off to get Calderone.

Although, as I mentioned, I caught on as to why Miami Vice was good fairly on, I didn’t really become a fan until the show had almost run its course. After I moved to Mt. Prospect at the end of 1988, Mom sent me a Christmas present—a VCR.

It was my first VCR, and its arrival meant two things. First, I no longer had to prop a tape recorder next to a TV speaker to record something on TV. Second, I could record, say, any episode of a particular TV show for watching any time—and in the future.

In 1989, just as Miami Vice announced it was ending its run—and it was clear from its final season that it was over—the USA Network began showing Miami Vice reruns every night. Best of all, it showed them in order, from the pilot, divided in two, to the end of the fourth season. (It couldn’t show any episodes from the fifth and final season until after that season ran its course on NBC in May.)

This was awesome. I could go back and see all the episodes from the first season before I became a fan, and I could rewatch all my favorites. It got to be like clockwork. If I missed a particular episode on USA, I could figure out when it would air again a couple months later and set the VCR for that night. (One night, I think Friday, USA showed two episodes.)

It became a post-dinner ritual. I’d flip on USA just as Miami Vice was getting started and fire up the VCR. I got Doug into it, so he became a fairly regular viewer, too. When the final season aired the next year in Grand Blanc, I had as complete a Miami Vice library as you could have, and the episodes were required late-night viewing throughout my Flint Journal tenure.

When it became de rigueur to put out entire seasons of TV series, and even the series themselves on DVD, I clung to my videotapes tightly. I knew—I just KNEW—they’d never release Miami Vice, because they’d never be able to get the rights to all the music, just like my favorite show from the late Seventies/early Eighties—WKRP. As far as I was concerned, either show without the real, original music was less than worthless.

Finally, several years ago, DVDs of Miami Vice did in fact start to come out. Supposedly they include all the original music, unchanged from when they aired. (WKRP apparently will never include all the original music. It’s on DVD with entire scenes deleted—less than worthless.)

I’m dubious about the Miami Vice DVDs, and until I’m certain, my videotapes—unwatched for more than a decade but still kept secure in a storage locker—will remain in my possession. Some things are sacrosanct.

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