Miami Vice

Season 1 Episode 1

Brother's Keeper

Aired Friday 10:00 PM Sep 16, 1984 on NBC
out of 10
User Rating
83 votes

By Users

Episode Summary

Brother's Keeper
Miami police detective James "Sonny" Crockett reluctantly teams with New York bred newcomer Ricardo Tubbs to solve several murders connected to a mysterious Colombian drug lord.

Who was the Episode MVP ?

  • The location of the "In The Air Tonight" scene.

    A famous scene from Miami Vice is the Crockett and Tubbs car trip while Phil Collins's "In The Air Tonight" plays ("Brother's Keeper," Season 1 Episode 1). For more than a decade, I wanted to know where the famous scene was filmed. I discovered the filming locations after I moved to Miami in January 2013. My enjoyment and interest in Miami Vice has increased since I became a resident of Miami.

    During the "In The Air Tonight" scene, I paused the DVD at the elapsed time of 1 hour 23 minutes and 35 seconds (1h:23m:35s). I saw a lighted "Ocean Bank" sign. The building in the scene also has two large white columns that are illuminated at night. I used the satellite view and the street view on Google Maps to look at every Ocean Bank location in Miami. I went to the building that looked like the building in the scene. When I saw it in person, I confirmed that it was the same building shown on Miami Vice.

    My trip to the Ocean Bank building allowed me to identify five buildings that are in the famous scene. There are two Miami Vice buildings at the intersection of NW 42nd Avenue and NW 7th Street in Miami: the Ocean Bank building (1h:23m:35s) and the Shell gas station (1h:23m:34s). The Shell gas station in 2013 was a Gulf station in 1984. There are two Miami Vice buildings at the intersection of NW 42nd Avenue and NW 3rd Street in Miami: Le Jeune House (1h:26m:31s) and the International House of Pancakes (IHOP) (1h:24m:05s). The Management Resources Institute building is between the Ocean Bank building and the IHOP. The Management Resources Institute building is at 550 NW 42nd Avenue (42nd Avenue is also called Le Jeune Road) (1h:26m:27s).

    Some of the "In The Air Tonight" scene was filmed in another part of Miami (the Omni area). I made a trip to the Omni area. There are two Miami Vice buildings on Biscayne Boulevard in Miami: Carnival Tower (1h:26m:49s) and the Omni buildings (1h:26m:41s). Carnival Tower is at the NE 13th Street intersection. Carnival Tower is the small part of the Sears Building that was not demolished after Miami Vice was cancelled. A better view of the Sears Building is shown later in the show (1h:34m:24s). The Omni buildings are at the NE 15th Street intersection. The Omni buildings used to be the Omni International Mall.

    The information that I gave in the previous paragraphs came from just one scene. Miami Vice was on television for five seasons.

  • After his partner is blown up during an undercover sting, Miami Vice Squad detective "Sonny" Crockett joins forces with New York cop Rafael Tubbs to solve a series of killings connected to an elusive Colombian drug lord. Good Pilot to a landmark series...moreless

    This review contains moderate spoilers.

    'Miami Vice' is widely recognised as one of the most influential television shows of all-time. Sure there had been cop shows since the very beginning of TV, but it was the sheer style, the look, the music and the whole sometimes movie-like scope of 'Miami Vice' that really shook things up when it first appeared in 1984.

    I was only five when the series was first broadcast. I was heavily into the many wonderful action-adventure shows of the era ('The A-Team', 'Knight Rider', 'The Dukes of Hazzard', etc.), but 'Vice' was far more violent and shown later at night – past my bedtime (!) – so other than the odd one-off showing in the 1990s, it wasn't actually until a year or so ago, knowing what a landmark series 'Miami Vice' was yet having actually seen so little of it, that I purchased the entire DVD collection, that I lived the series in all it's glory for the first time. Since that purchase, I've viewed every episode, but have decided now to tackle the series again, and review every single god-darned episode.

    So this is it, the Pilot (subtitled 'Brother's Keeper' when reran in two-part format). By the way, I normally research on-line and get the best version of a DVD release possible, so for MV should have gone for the R1 release, but due to finances at the time, I had to settle for the U.K. Region 2 version, with no extra features, and the Pilot split into two-part format. But hey, at least all of the episodes have their original music (something that many other vintage TV shows released on DVD haven't fared so well with), so I can't complain too much.

    Anyway, this Pilot introduces the series well, setting the scene and introducing us to the main characters. Thankfully, the high quality seen here continues on into the series.

    Don Johnson is instantly super-cool as the iconic Crockett; back in the day it sometimes felt that, as Tubbs, Philip Michael Thomas had a hard time keeping up with him, but in fairness, watching the series right through, Tubbs easily stands up on his own merit.

    Switek and Zito don't get that all that much screen-time here, but I did feel that they came across as almost unlikable, and would be "nice-ened" up as the first season continued.

    Trudy and Gina are pretty much the same as they will always be (Gina's romance with Crockett was sometimes touched upon by never really played out as it seemed it might do going by this Pilot), and then of course there's Gregory Sierra as original Vice Lieutenant, Rodriguez, before he was written out just a couple of episodes into the series.

    Other recurring elements are also set in place, such as Crockett's pet alligator Elvis. Ol' Elvis isn't liked by many viewers (finding the idea a bit silly); personally, if this was one of the other, more tongue-in-cheek shows around at the time, I probably would have taken to Elvis, but he does seem a bit out-of-place in 'Vice's more moody setting. Presumably the producers felt the same, as, after the first few episodes, he was seldom seen.

    Of the guest cast, of note is Martin Ferrero as killer Trini; Ferrero would go on to play recurring informant Izzy in the regular series (though I always much preferred Noogie personally!). Watching for the first time, the killing off of Sonny's partner, Eddie, in the first few minutes is quite a shock, considering Eddie is played by such a leading name as Jimmy Smitts – maybe the deliberate shock was the angle they were going for.

    On the weaker side, I have to say that most of the actual plot isn't actually all that interesting – thankfully better plots would soon appear in the series; it could have maybe been a bit clearer at times, and I do agree with a fellow reviewer that we don't really seem to get introduced to or find out enough about supposedly king-pin drug dealer Calderone. But this Pilot is more about the mood, the setting, what it represents in terms of the wonderful series that would follow (well, the first two seasons at least; the third season got the wobbles, and by the last two seasons, the show had lost it's way a bit, but that's for later reviews).

    Incidentally, the whole Calderone thread is one that, off and on, will span across most of the series.

    But that's the minus points; they are more than made up for by the general slickness of production. The filming of the series really raised the bar; previous "cool" hit cop shows, such as 'Starsky & Hutch' (again a classic which I love) were great, but were produced very "clunkily" much of the time; 'Vice' really raised the game, and pushed the boundaries of what could be achieved.

    The chase, of Crockett in the car, pursuing Tubbs (who at that time he believes to be a drug runner) in the speedboat, is very good, but of course, the standout moment is the legendary sequence of Crockett and Tubbs (in the original black Daytona Spyder – far cooler than the white Testarossa that later replaced it!) in the breezy night accompanied by Phil Collins's suitably moody 'In the Air Tonight'.

    Talking of music, the opening (and closing) credits use an earlier version of Jam Hammer's classic theme; this was before the familiar guitar riff was added, and is used in various edits on the first couple of episodes, but is still recognisable and suits the series well.

    All-in-all, this Pilot deserves its highly-regarded status in TV history. As mentioned above, the actual plot, which for much of the time isn't the most interesting, maybe holds things back a little, but there is so much else of note, with the characters and the whole quality of production (and that legendary 'In the Air Tonight' sequence) that I still give 'Brother's Keeper' a very respectable 9 out of 10.moreless
  • Miami Vice Detective Sonny Crockett & New York newcomer Ricardo Tubbs team up to take down Colombian Drug Kingpin Calderone.

    A great way to start out the show. To me the only thing wrong with this episode was that we did not hear too much from Calderone. We find out that Calderone killed Tubbs' brother Raphael and Calderone also kills Crockett's partner Eddie. So sure Crockett and Tubbs had a reason to want to take down this guy so badly. I however did not like the ending when Calderone got away because if Tubbs or Crockett would have killed him then we would not have had the 2 part stinker "Hit List" and "Calderone's Return." All and all a great way to start out the show.moreless
  • An excellent introduction to the series

    The two-part story, "Brother's Keeper", is an excellent introduction to "Miami Vice". Often screened as a feature length episode, this pilot introduced "Sonny" Crockett and Ricardo Tubbs to the world and changed forever the expectations people would have of television. "Brother's Keeper" has feature film production values, a great cast (including a young Jimmy Smits), a splendid soundtrack and a sizzling script.

    Don Johnson's performance as Crockett is flawless. Every scene with this actor is excellent. Philip Michael Thomas as Tubbs is the perfect sidekick and the chemistry between the two characters is a key factor to what makes the series so memorable.

    This pilot has an appearance by Martin Ferrero as Trini DeSoto. Ferrero was later to become a regular in the show, as informer (and light relief) Izzy Moreno.

    No matter how many times I watch this pilot, I can't help feel the original '80s vibe and excitement as Phil Collins' "In The Air Tonight" accompanies the high-speed night-time action. This is television that makes the hair on the back of your neck stand up. Dramatic, gripping, witty and sexy, "Miami Vice" remains perfect television.moreless
  • An interesting introduction!

    Miami Vice manages to introduce both the concept of the show and the lead characters to us perfectly. There's action, but it's not simply senseless chases, and the office politics and work relationships are easy to follow. Our heroes feel very real, with Sonny's anger and frustration nearly palpable and Tubbs' grief well shown beneath the persona of Raphael. Their initial suspicion and animosity plays well into the characters also, mutual punching in the face and the following almost grudging trust being a very good place to start a long journey. The plot is still interesting after two decades, and the criminals seem more than just charicatures. The moral dilemmas don't seem forced either; whether it's a cop taking bribes or Tubbs hesitating on shooting Calderone, nothing seems black or white.

    Watching the cast work together is a pleasure, as is the cast itself; there is solid acting and intriguing actors. Also, can't help noticing that there's a variety of ethnicity here that doesn't seem forced or overly PC. People are defined by what they do and not by what they look like (and am not going to even mention the way they dress...). Like I said, an intriguing beginning. Definitely makes a viewer wonder what comes next.moreless
Philip Michael Thomas

Philip Michael Thomas

Det. Ricardo "Rico" Tubbs

John Diehl

John Diehl

Det. Lawrence "Larry" Zito

Michael Talbott

Michael Talbott

Det. Stanley "Stan" Switek

Saundra Santiago

Saundra Santiago

Det. Gina Navarro Calabrese

Don Johnson

Don Johnson

Det. James "Sonny" Crockett

Olivia Brown

Olivia Brown

Det. Trudy Joplin

Bill Smitrovich

Bill Smitrovich

DEA Agent Scottie Wheeler

Guest Star

Martin Ferrero

Martin Ferrero

Trini DeSoto

Guest Star

Mykelti Williamson

Mykelti Williamson

Leon Muhammad Jefferson

Guest Star

Belinda Montgomery

Belinda Montgomery

Caroline Crockett

Recurring Role

Trivia, Notes, Quotes and Allusions


  • TRIVIA (3)

    • Jimmy Smits' brief appearance at the beginning of the episode was his first credited acting role.

    • The Ferrari Daytona Spyder convertible featured in the pilot episode and the first two seasons of Miami Vice was actually one of two replica kit cars, built on a 1980 Corvett chassis with Ferrari hardware by Tom McBurnie for auto importer Al Mardikian. Miami Vice's producers purchased the two replicas after Mardikian lost them to the IRS.

    • We learn that Sonny has a six-year-old son named Billy.

  • QUOTES (10)

    • Sonny: You ever consider a career in southern law enforcement?
      Rico: Maybe. (laughs) Maybe.

    • Scottie: Six months ago some guy comes up to me in Little Havana. Hands me a suitcase. He says, "Compliments of Mr. Calderone." Nothing else. Just compliments. I didn't even open the damn thing for two weeks. Sonny--
      Sonny: How much? How much to buy you, Scottie?
      Scottie: 70 grand. The calls from DeSoto started about a month later. Information. That's all they wanted was information.
      Sonny: Information?
      Scottie: I tried to pull out at least a dozen times, but it was too late. I mean, I never expected anyone to get killed.
      Sonny: They changed the game plan on us, Scott. Is it still goin' down tonight?
      Scottie: Yeah.
      Sonny: Where?
      Scottie: You gotta help me, man. You gotta help me, man. I got a family. (Cop cars pull up) I got 15 years as a stand-up cop.
      Sonny: Where? Where?
      Scottie: I got two medals of valor. I took a bullet for you, for God's sakes. (sighs) They're runnin' a sports fishing boat out of Keys Marina. The drop-off's up river.
      Sonny: Am I, uh, am I missing something here, or what, Scottie? I don't get it. I don't understand this. You were my partner. I had you and Donna and the kids over to dinner, what, 20 or 30 times. (starts gritting his teeth out of anger) Thanksgiving, birthdays. I trusted you! (grabs Scottie's throat) I trusted you, you bastard! I trusted you! (Tubbs pulls him off of him, Scottie cries)

    • Rico: Crockett. James "Sonny" Crockett.
      Sonny: Very good, Tubbs. Next week we'll work on your name.
      Rico: University of Florida. All-American wide receiver number 88? Am I right or what?
      Sonny: Oh, that was a long time ago.
      Rico: You were sensational. I remember one time I watched you run a screen pass 90 yards with 10 seconds left on the clock, man, for the winning TD against Alabama.
      Sonny: It was 92 yards, Tubbs. Six seconds remaining.
      Rico: Yeah, well, excuse the hell outta me. You know, not that Vice isn't the most glamorous gig in the world, Crockett, but what happened, huh? I mean, you must have had half the scouts in the NFL on your tail.
      Sonny: Traded it all in on two years in the Southeast Asian Conference.
      Rico: 'Nam?
      Sonny: No, Coney Island.

    • Sonny (on them working together): Well, I don't know how this is gonna work, Tubbs. I mean, uh, you're not exactly up my alley--style and personawise. Heaven knows I'm no box of candy. But with all things considered, I think we may have to consider some type of temporary working relationship.

    • (After Elvis, the alligator growls at Rico)
      Rico: Hey, call him off man. I don't even like alligator shoes!
      Sonny: Hey, hey, don't talk like that man, you're gonna hurt his feelings. (pats Elvis' head) Don't mind him, Elvis he's from New York.

    • (Sonny wakes up)
      Rico: Hey, Crockett it's a great day to be alive, man.
      Sonny: Yeah, or beat someone to death, dependin' on your dispositon.

    • Sonny: 2 weeks! 2 weeks of leg work I put in on this bust, and three fourths of the dealers turn out to be cops! Me, Scotie Wheeler and (motions to Rico) Dr. Voodoo here putting in a surprise guest appearance direct from Fun City.
      Lt. Castillo: Crockett--
      Sonny: Not ot mention Heckle and Jeckle jumpin' the gun by a good five minutes. Is that what you mean by team playin', Lou?
      Lt. Castillo: What I'm trying tp tell you is there was a foul-up--
      Sonny: You know, my badge says "Miami," but lately it's been lookin' a lot like Disney World.
      Lt. Castillo: Shut up, Crockett! And I'll explain. Now, Tubbs is here on priority clearance per direct request of the NYPD. Interagency memo, Crockett. Confidential.
      Rico: I'd sorta like to keep it that way, if you catch my drift. Hey, no offense, but when it comes to security leaks, this town of yours ain't exactly Pentagon South.
      Sonny (to Lt. Castillo): Interesting perspective. Now, tell me somethin' 'Dubbs.'
      Rico: Tubbs. My friends call me Rafael.
      Sonny: Are you down here for some specific value to the taxpayers, or are you just workin' on your tan?
      Rico (laughs dryly): Well, hush my mouth! He's so funny.

    • Sonny: I've been takin' an informal survey of my unit this week, marriagewise. It seems out of 16 Vice cops, we're barely bttin' .250.
      Caroline: It's not the job. Oh, sure it's got a lot to do with it. (sighs) Seeing you shot that time. And your drinking. (exhales) I've been doing a lot of thinking about it.
      (They start talking over each other)
      Sonny: I've been doing a lot better--
      Caroline: You know it's funny. In a lot of ways you and your Vice cop buddies...
      Sonny: ---than when I started in plain clothes.
      Caroline: ...are just the flip side of the same coin--
      Sonny: I mean--
      Caroline: --from these dealers you're always masquerading around with. (That silences Sonny, they both sit, quiet for a minute) You're all players, Sonny. You get high on the action.

    • (Shortly after Eddie got killed)
      Lt. Castillo: You haven't changed much from your old football days have you, Sonny?
      Sonny: Listen, Lou--
      Lt. Castillo: No! You listen! I haven't heard word one from you for a whole stinkin' week. No case reviews, no updates, no progress reports.
      Sonny: I was under. I was settin' up--
      Lt. Castillo: And no backups!
      Sonny: The last time I requested a backup, I nearly got shot to death by Bluto and Lee Harvey Oswald over there. And as for progress reports, I'd just as soon buy radio time.
      Lt. Castillo: Hey, wait a minute. Wait a minute. Are you implying that I've got a bad cop in my department?
      Sonny (sighs): All I know is, every time I've gotten within 20 blocks of this Colombian, I've had the pavement pulled right out from under me.
      Lt. Castillo: By the book. By the book, Sonny, from here on or I swear I'm pullin' you off the street.

    • (Sonny punches Rico)
      Rico: Guess I asked for that, didn't I?
      Sonny: No, you didn't. That was way out of line.
      Rico: You mean that?
      Sonny (As he helps Rico up): Yeah.
      (Rico punches Sonny)
      Rico: Couldn't let you handle all that bad karma by yourself!

  • NOTES (9)

    • In conjunction with the 2008 Emmy awards, Crockett and Caroline's phone conversation was in the list of the Most Memorable Drama TV Moments. However, it didn't make it to the top 5.

    • The German episode title is "Heißes Pflaster Florida", meaning "Hot Florida Pavement".

    • In syndication, this two-hour pilot has been divided into two separate episodes.

    • The premiere episode was listed as number 99 in TV Guide's "100 Most Memorable Moments in TV History" in the June 29-July 5, 1996 issue.

    • Don Johnson & Philip Michael Thomas edged out Gary Cole and Jimmy Smits for the roles of Crockett & Tubbs. Smits would star in two series with "city-centric" titles: "L.A. Law" and "NYPD Blue".

    • This premiere episode of the series was named #100 on TV Guide & TV Land's "The 100 Most Memorable TV Moments" in December 2004.

    • When this pilot script was being considered at NBC, an executive wrote the note "MTV Cops" to summarize the show. That nickname stuck.

    • Songs Included: "Miss You" (from boombox at begin) by Rolling Stones from their album Some Girls; "Body Talk" (in New York club) by The Deele from album Street Beat; "Somebody's Watching Me" (in Miami strip club) by Rockwell from the album Somebody's Watching Me; "Girls Just Wanna Have Fun" (on the beach) was originally performed by Cyndi Lauper from her album She's So Unusual (cover); "Only In Miami" (sung in resturant) by Bette Midler from her album No Frills; "All Night Long (All Night)" (performed by band in resturant) by Lionel Richie from his album Can't Slow Down; "In The Air Tonight" (as Crockett & Tubbs drive to bust) by Phil Collins from album Face Value

    • Working series title was "Dade County Fast Lane." The pilot episode was not called "Brother's Keeper" until the series reran on USA in 1988.