Television can be like looking through an old photo album - we see old friends and wonder what's become of them. This week's episode evokes such a feeling of nostalgia with the guest appearance of Philip Michael Thomas. After MIAMI VICE, it was distressing to occasionally see Philip Michael Thomas on some late night infomercial. Thomas did a kind of lounge act, fancying himself a singer and harping about the Psychic Friends Network. Thomas also did a made-for-TV movie, but appearances on TV have been scarce. So it's genuinely warming to see Thomas and Don Johnson together again on NASH BRIDGES.
We've repeatedly pointed out how NASH BRIDGES occasionally starts looking like MIAMI VICE. Nostalgic fans of Don Johnson yearn for the trappings of VICE - the car, the gun, the clothes - all items laden with emphasis on male indulgence. Along with these outer trappings of masculine style, MIAMI VICE had story themes of being undercover and pretending to be somebody else, of cops circumventing the law to preserve their cover, and in short, of being more criminal-like than cop-like. The location of Miami was also featured as part of the VICE style of coastlines with fast, sexy cigarette boats skimming along the Florida shores.
Blink and cut to this week's NASH episode "Wild Card." We see the familiar Crockett and Tubbs tooling about in a sports car, and NASH BRIDGES even manages a coastline with a cigarette boat skimming along the San Francisco Bay. There's even a musical guest star (like MIAMI VICE) with Meat Loaf as the Bad Guy of the Week. In "Wild Card" Nash helps out his Bahamian pal Rick (played by Philip Michael Thomas) by getting Rick into a high stakes poker game. Nash even vouches (in the amount of $10,000) for Rick to get him into the game. Are these the actions of a police officer or Sonny Crockett undercover? Helping a friend out of debt by getting him into a high stakes poker game is like giving a martini to an alcoholic - but then this is NASH BRIDGES.
Lest we get carried away and start yearning for replacing Cheech Marin with Philip Michael Thomas and making it truly the MIAMI VICE of old, Tommy Chong is also along for the nostalgia ride. Cheech and Chong fans will snort in reference to the "Dave's not here" routine at an SF marijuana club. Consider how complete a turnaround Cheech has made, playing a cop on NASH BRIDGES and telling a suspect to "step away from the bong."
We got tons of e-mail from fans asking about and hoping for, praying for, a MIAMI VICE reunion movie - similar to the DUKES OF HAZZARD movie that preceded NASH on what CBS called "Flashback Friday." How do we answer? We can't predict the future and we can't speak for Don Johnson, but if you truly were a fan of MIAMI VICE, then you'd know that MIAMI VICE was a particular vision of producer Michael Mann. It made Don Johnson a star, but a star that outgrew that vision. That moment in television has past and Don Johnson is in a different place. It was good to look back and remember, but the past is the past.
For more, see synopsis for Episode 30