(last edited November 28, 2008)

Miami Vice/Brothers Keeper

"Brother's Keeper" is the pilot episode of Miami Vice's first season. The episode premiered on September 16, 1984 with a two hour (including commercials) season premiere. The episode was received well critically, winning two out of three Emmy award nominations.

  1. Plot
  2. Notes
  3. Style


James "Sonny" Crockett (Don Johnson) is a Metro-Dade vice detective who has just lost his colleague Eddie Rivera (Jimmy Smits) at a car bombing, when they were trying to arrest a small-time drug dealer. He also is in the middle of an ugly divorce, since his wife can't stand the stress of having a husband working undercover with criminals.

Crockett is investigating a Colombian drug dealer, named Calderone, when he meets a New York police agent called Rafael Tubbs (Philip Michael Thomas). Since they are having problems approaching Calderone, Crockett and Tubbs team up, after a suggestion from Crockett's Lieutenant Rodriguez (Gregory Sierra) to work together, even though they don't like each other.

Crockett is also dating a colleague, Gina Calabrese (Saundra Santiago). But he is not very fortunate, since he whispers his wife's name at Gina, when they are in bed. Gina and her colleague Trudy Joplin (Olivia Brown) still help Crockett at all job matters, and they discover that Rafael Tubbs is actually a dead New York officer. Crockett confronts "Rafael" and discovers that he is Rafael's brother Ricardo that wants to catch Calderone, his brother's murderer.

They still decide to work together and it pays off, and discover the traitor to be Scottie Wheeler (Bill Smitrovich), a DEA Agent who works closely with the Vice squad. Calderone is arrested, but within a matter of hours gets a judge to sign his release on $2 million bail. Sonny and Rico arrive just in time to see Calderone get into a seaplane and fly off. Crockett and Tubbs decide that they like working with each other after all, and Tubbs decides to transfer to Miami.


Most of the series regular cast are introduced in this pilot episode: Sonny Crockett (Don Johnson), Ricardo Tubbs (Philip Michael Thomas), Gina Calabrese (Saundra Santiago), Trudy Joplin (Olivia Brown), Stan Switek (Michael Talbott) and Larry Zito (John Diehl). Only Edward James Olmos is missing, since his character, Lt. Martin Castillo would not show until the sixth episode. The Squad's boss was for the first four episodes Lt. Rodriguez (Gregory Sierra). This episode also featured regular supporting actor Martin Ferrero, but he played the transvestite killer Trini DeSoto? instead of his usual Izzy Moreno character, the small and incompetent criminal who confides to Crockett and Tubbs. The opening theme to the episode is an extended version of the "Miami Vice Theme" which is only used for the first five episodes of the series. After that, the Miami Vice opening theme was altered to include the signature electric guitar riff over the original Fairlight-generated synthesizer sequence. From then on, it remained unchanged throughout the series.

This episode, which has a 2 hour duration (with commercials) is also sometimes split as a two part episode each an hour long in some countries. On the Miami Vice DVD release, the episode is presented in its entirety.


This episode started developing the trademark Vice style. Aspects of Miami Vice considered revolutionary lay in its music, cinematography, and imagery, which made large segments of each episode resemble a protracted music video. A good example of combining these three aspects is found in this episode when Crockett and Tubbs are in the Ferrari Daytona Spyder, driving through a damp, nighttime Miami downtown heading to a somber showdown with a sinister, murdering druglord as "In the Air Tonight" by Phil Collins surrealistically plays along. As Lee H. Katzin, one of the series' directors, once stated, "The show is written for an MTV audience, which is more interested in images, emotions and energy than plot and character and words."

The pilot included some of the series trademarks, such as Crocketts' Ferrari Daytona Spyder 365 GTS/4, his boat, the St. Vitus Dance and Elvis, his pet alligator.

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Edited November 28, 2008 (diff)