10/01/1984 at 01:00 AM EDT
NBC (Fridays, 10 p.m. ET)
Premiere: Friday, Sept. 28, 10 p.m. ET
Miami Vice had a special sneak premiere two weeks ago, and it was a compelling, riveting introduction to an immensely promising series (which officially premieres this week). The pilot was written by co-executive producer Tony Yerkovich, formerly of that touchstone of quality TV, Hill Street Blues. So the style of both shows is similar, but Vice hits harder, faster. Its sound track is full of oomph and its direction picks up tricks from music videos—quick cuts, odd angles, odder lighting—to give the show tension from the start. The writing is filled with know-it-all street talk, but it has some comic twists (a druggie in the preview laments Desi Arnaz's obscurity: "The fact that that dude never copped an Academy Award says something very deep about the American psyche"). Don Johnson as detective Sonny Crockett is a former footballer living on a yacht with an alligator named Elvis. That alone makes Vice sound like the idiotic Riptide, an excuse for bikinis and bimbos and bubble-headed dialogue—but that couldn't be further from the truth. As Johnson and his partner, Philip Michael Thomas, track down drug dealers and other high-rolling lowlife, you are forced to follow along and think. Be warned: Vice does not paint a pretty, palm-lined picture of Miami. The talk is tough; there is violence, but in Vice, unlike The A-Team, people don't laugh at guns. If you let Vice lure you along with its suspense, you will be rewarded. Unfortunately, Vice faces heavy competition on the Friday schedule: Falcon Crest on CBS and Matt Houston on ABC. It will never succeed if nobody watches it. So do yourself a favor: Watch!