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Now in our third calendar year
PCR #99 (Vol. 3, No. 7) This edition is for the week of February 11--17, 2002.
Will and Camaro
Prime Time and Syndicated Television Shows about, or filmed in, Florida    Part 2.

Matt's Rail
The Enlightenment
Movie Review
Mike's Rant
PCR Archives 2002
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The 1980s
As pointed out in our last edition, the 1960s were Florida's "Golden Age" for prime-time viewing with shows such as "Surfside Six", "Flipper", "Gentle Ben", and the "Jackie Gleason Show". The 1970s were a bust with none! Florida's luck would change for the better with a "Silver Age" infusion through the 1984 debut of "Miami Vice" and the 1985 debut of the "Golden Girls". A little bit of Florida would linger on into the 1990's on to today through some short lived and infrequent shows. We will take a look at these shows in the last of our two-part series.

Miami ViceMiami Vice
"Miami Vice" was possibly the finest prime-time television show filmed in Florida history. Debuting as a two-hour movie special on Sunday September 16, 1984, this one-hour police series ran on Friday nights on the NBC network until July 26, 1989. The brilliance of this series was a team effort by its creators starting with NBC head of programming Brandon Tartikoff, who scribbled down the idea in a two word phrase, "MTV Cops", a pilot script called "Gold Coast" written by "Hill Street Blues" producer Anthony Yerkovich, and produced by film director Michael Mann ("Manhunter", "Last of the Mohicans").

The Introduction
The first episode centered around Bronx detective "Ricardo Tubbs", a black street wise member of the NYPD whose older brother, "Raphael Tubbs", also a member of New York's finest, was shot dead by a Colombian drug lord known as "Calderon". "Ricardo" or "Rico", played by Phillip Michael Thomas, migrated down to Miami as it was reported that "Calderon" was last seen in the area, possibly as a means to escape capture for the killing of the elder "Tubbs". The New York City filming beautifully captured the coldness and brusqueness of that City. Next scene we are thrown into the Tropical Streamline Deco world of Miami Beach where Miami vice detective "Sonny Crockett", played by Don Johnson ("A Boy and His Dog", "Dead Bang", and several other movies, as well as the recently cancelled CBS San Francisco based detective show "Nash Bridges") is seen in white and blue linen clothing lounging against a wall of the Carlyle hotel. With him is fellow vice detective "Eddie Riviera", played by Jimmy Smits. "Riviera" is later killed by a car bomb in a drug deal gone bad, and guess who did it? Yep-"Calderon", known in Miami as "the Colombian". "Crockett", a lone wolf elder vice cop of 10 years, and "Tubbs", who forged documents and used his deceased brother's name in order to work with Miami Vice to try to apprehend "Calderon", initially hated each other, but by the end of the movie were best of partners, and would remain so for close to five years.

The Appeal
The appeal of this show was multi-faceted. Michael Mann did a masterful job of cinematography. Shot on location, he revealed sides and moods to the visual and spiritual natural and man made components of Miami unlike anyone before or after him. Always in an artistic flair, Mann would emphasize tropical colors both in sets, live shots, and clothing. Once these images were coupled with appropriate musical scores by the artists of that era, the end result was always evocative and memorable. He had no problem with showing cocaine cowboys die in slow motion, or integrating scenes of an ocean at sunset overlaying the naked forms of "Tubbs" making love to "Calderon's" daughter. Not be understated was the fine music of former Jeff Beck sideman, Jan Hammer, who created the "Miami Vice" theme song, as well as several great scores for the show.

The Cast
Although the show pretty much centered around "Tubbs" and "Crockett", other cast members included Gregory Sierra who played "Lt. Lou Rodriquez" in the first three episodes: Saundra Santiago, who played Detective Gina Calabrese: Olivia Brown, who played Detective Trudy Joplin: Michael Talbott, who played Detective Stan Switek: John Diehl, who played Detective Larry Zito: Edward James Olmos, who played Detective Martin Castillo: and semi-regulars Charlie Bennett, who played "Noogie Lamont", and Martin Ferrero who played "Izzy Moreno".

The Guest Stars
Guest appearances by actors who would become famous household names included Ed O'Neil ("Married.With Children"), Bruce Willis ("Moonlighting" and a myriad of movies), Harry Shearer ("This Is Spinal Tap" and "the Simpsons"), and comedian Chris Rock. Also guest starring were rock musicians Glen Frey (who wrote two songs for the series, "Smugglers Blues" and "You Belong to the City"), Phil Collins, Ted Nugent (who played a stone cold killer in the beautifully filmed episode "Definitely Miami"), rappers the Fat Boys, and rhythm and blues artists Little Richard and James Brown. There were even guest appearances by Watergate defendant G. Gordon Liddy, and former Chrysler President Lee Iacocca. Film actress Pam Grier played "Tubbs's" former lover "Valerie Gordon", while Belinda Montgomery played "Sonny's" first wife "Caroline", and recording artist Sheena Easton played "Crockett's" second wife "Caitlin Davies". Established actors included Keye Luke, Dean Stockwell, and Jerry Hardin.

The Music and the Mobiles
As exciting as the visuals were, so was the music, which was such an integral part of the show. The musical scores could be as varied as reggae by Scientist to the jazz guitar of George Benson. Artists included, among many others, Dire Straits, Peter Gabriel, Damn Yankees, the Church, the Tubes, Phil Collins, Mike and the Mechanics, Dolly Parton, Tina Turner, Jimi Hendrix Experience, Russ Ballard, and Jean Loves Jezebel. An unforgettable scene is that of "Crockett's" black Ferrari Daytona prowling the night streets of the South Beach to Phil Collins's "In the Air Tonight". Then there was "Stan Switek" with his late 50's teal Thunderbird, "Tubbs" with his long tail finned aqua 60's Cadillac, and "Crockett's" white Testorosa. What made "Miami Vice" so special was that in many ways, it was the ultimate Florida show, and the show that best symbolized the excesses of the 1980s. For those of us born between the late 40s to early 60s, this was a show for and about our generation. We were young enough then to still have youth, vitality, and optimism for the future, but old enough to start living independently. The series also underscored the significant changes both to Florida and sto American society twenty years after this same generation was watching "Flipper" and "Gentle Ben" in innocent, wide-eyed wonder. A great web site to visit, with some fantastic calendar pictures is http://www.wildhorse.com/MiamiVice/.

The Golden Girls
Filmed in California, the "Golden Girls" debuted on Saturday September 14, 1985 on NBC. It was the story of four spinsters who lived in a suburban home at 5161 Richmond Street in Miami. The primary star was veteran actress Bea Arthur ("Maude") who played "Dorothy Zbournak". Sophia Petrillo played "Dorthy's" mother. "Maude" sidekick Rue McClanahan played "Blanche Devereaux", while ex-"Mary Tyler Moore Show" alumnus, Betty White, played "Rose Nylund". The show ran all the way until May 9, 1992. The house, though filmed in California, can now be seen at Disneyworld in Orlando. Although I did not regularly watch this sitcom, it has a very large fan base to this day. The guest stars were incredible, and deserve mention here-Leslie Neilsen, Nancy Walker, Steve Landesberg, Ken Berry, Ken Howard, Merv Griffin, Alex Trebek, Art Metrano, Cesar Romero, Brenda Vaccaro, Kristy McNichol, Hal Linden, Peter Graves, Pat Harrington Jr., Fred Willard, Lyle Waggoner, Bebe Besch, Robert Mandan, Robert Culp, Howard Duff, Harry Shearer, Martin Mull, Sonny Bono, Anne Francis, Bob Hope, Pat McCormick, Elinore Donahue, Monte Markham, Maclean Stevenson, Rita Moreno, George Clooney, Conrad Janis, Mickey Rooney, Joseph Campenella, Jerry Hardin, Gordon Jump, Lois Nettleton, Keye Luke, Vito Scotti, Sheree North, Billy Barty, Jeanne Dixon, and Alice Ghostley.

The 1990s

The 1990's were not as kind to prime time Florida, and the first decade of the new millennium appears even bleaker. Although movies (lots of Jim Varney flicks) and t.v. shows (MTV's "Remote Control" and the Burt Reynolds series "Evening Shade") were being filmed at Universal Studios over in Orlando, none were prime time shows about Florida (although "Second Noah" may have been filmed by either Universal or Florida MGM). There were nevertheless two bright stars filmed in Florida, one of the right here in Tam-pah!

Silk StalkingsSilk Stalkings
About 40 miles north of Miami is one of the most affluent places on the planet-Palm Beach County. Names of wealth and political power, such as Trump and Kennedy, live part and full time in the opulent mansions along A1A in the coastal community of Palm Beach. If you have never driven this area, you should-it is absolutely incredible! The Caribbean-like waters of the Atlantic Ocean are turquoise and the homes and mansions are amongst the most attractive in the world. But of course all or part of that wealth and power can be very dangerous in the hands of the wrong person. Debuting on the USA Network in 1991, "Silk Stalkings" was about two Palm Beach detectives, "Christopher Lorenzo" played by Rob Estes, and "Rita Lee Lanca" played by Mitzi Kapture. The original series, now known as "Classic Silk" by Stalkings fans, lasted until 1995 or 1996. It was then reincarnated in 1996 featuring Chris Potter as "Sgt. Tom Ryan", and Janet Gunn as "Sgt. Cassandra St. John". This reincarnation is known as "New Silk" to the show's fans. Once a married couple, Detectives "Ryan" and "St. John" try to solve homicides and crimes in this affluent community where trying to stand for justice can lead to unpleasant results. Again on the USA Network, this shot on location gem of a show was cancelled in 1999. One thing's for sure-"Sgt. St. John's" a lot easier on the eyes than either "Tubbs" or "Crockett"!

Thunder in Paradise
For a native-born Florida cracker-boy like me, this is just about the ultimate in a Florida TV series! Shot on location in Florida, it is a story about a Special Forces ex Marine, played by professional wrestler "Hollywood" Hulk Hogan who battles commies and weirdoes in a 45' long cigarette boat with ultra-sophisticated military hardware. The boat is called "Thunder". The Hulkster is known as "R.J. "Hurricane" Spencer". He is assisted by "Kelly La Rew", played by actress Carol Alt, and "Martin Brubaker", played by Chris Lemmon. Former "the Avengers" actor Patrick McNee plays character "Edward Whitaker". The introduction is great. Nubile maidens sunning themselves in the tropical Florida waters who begin to notice a sound-a sound of power-the sound of "Thunder"! Anyone who knows me knows I love cigarette boats. Also, "Hollywood" Hogan went to my high school (T.R. Robinson in Tampa), and he brought his own quality of machismo to the one eyed orb. This syndicated series consisted of 22 episodes starting in the fall of 1994. I will never forget the much deserved can of "South Alabama Whoop Ass" Hogan unleashed on the Mason Dixon radio show at Tampa Tribune TV critic Walt Belcher who was so critical of the series. Tampa actor Gustavo ("Gus") Perez had a cameo as one of the commie bad guys that "Hurricane" went after.

Second Noah
"Second Noah" was filmed right here in Tampa. It debuted in February 1996 on the ABC network, but only lasted until June 1997. The basic story was about animal specialist "Noah Beckett", played by Daniel Hugh Kelly, and his family comprising of "Benjamin" (Gemini Barnett), "Ricky" (James Marsden), "Danny" (john Torgerson), and "Ranny" (Jeremy Torgerson). Unlike "Miami Vice" of a decade earlier, "Second Noah" was family entertainment-which may have sadly contributed to its low ratings and early demise.

Maximum Bob
"Maximum Bob" was based on the novel by the same name by writer extrordinaire Elmore Leonard. This series, similar to the show "Twin Peaks", was often hilarious, sometimes moving, sometimes violent, sometimes, sensuous, but always entertaining. Meant as a summer series in 1998, this show, filmed on location in the Lake Okeechobee area of Florida, featured the exploits of an old time Southern County Judge who handed out the most extreme and "maximum" sentences for some of the smallest offenses. Starring Beau Bridges, the series debuted on ABC on Thursday nights.

Next Week: Monsters crawling out of the waters of Clearwater Beach, Dunedin, Tarpon Springs, and the Suwannee River in the late 1940's. All in the next edition of NCPCR!

"La Floridiana" is ©2002 by William Moriaty. All contents of Nolan's Pop Culture Review are ©2002 by Nolan B. Canova. Webpage design and all graphics herein are creations of Nolan B. Canova