When Miami Vice was originally broadcast by NBC, the order in which the episodes were shown was ultimately chosen by the network. In several instances, this involved moving episodes earlier or later in the season, which in turn introduced continuity goofs that are obvious to anyone watching the show in the supposedly "correct" broadcast order. The purpose of this article is to propose an alternate "chronological" order in which to view the episodes, so that any goofs brought about by the reordering of episodes are undone.
The lists below include notes detailing which episodes have been moved from their original broadcast order and why.
Season 1 is not affected by any obvious continuity goofs as a result of reordering.
Season 2 is perhaps the most widely affected by network reordering. As a result of their changes, the beard Zito grows for the start of the season continually appears and disappears between episodes for more than half of the season, indicating several episodes were broadcast earlier than intended.
- "The Prodigal Son"
- "Whatever Works"
- "Out Where the Buses Don't Run"
- "Buddies" -- Zito has his beard, so this episode comes before those where he is clean-shaven
- "Junk Love" -- Zito has his beard
- "Tale of the Goat" -- Zito has his beard
- "Bushido" -- Zito has his beard
- "Bought and Paid For" -- Zito has his beard
- "Phil the Shill" -- Zito has his beard
- "One Way Ticket" -- Zito has his beard
- "The Dutch Oven" -- Zito's beard does not appear again, meaning all the earlier episodes where he is clean-shaven appear now
- "Back in the World" -- Zito's beard is gone
- "Definitely Miami" -- Zito's beard is gone
- "Yankee Dollar" -- Zito's beard is gone
- "Little Miss Dangerous"
- "Florence Italy"
- "French Twist"
- "The Fix"
- "Free Verse"
- "Trust Fund Pirates"
- "Sons and Lovers"
Season 3 contains perhaps the most glaring example of a goof brought about by the network reordering episodes, when Crockett's Ferrari Daytona is magically resurrected in "El Viejo" after being destroyed six episodes earlier in the season opener.
- "El Viejo" -- Crockett has his Daytona, so this episode comes before it is destroyed
- "When Irish Eyes Are Crying"
- "Stone's War"
- "Streetwise" -- uses the same version of the show's opening sequence as the first few episodes of season 3
- "Walk-Alone" -- the title appears at the bottom of the screen, so this episode comes before it is moved to the middle of the screen
- "The Good Collar" -- the title appears at the bottom of the screen
- "Shadow in the Dark" -- the title appears at the bottom of the screen
- "Better Living Through Chemistry" -- the title appears at the bottom of the screen
- "Baby Blues" -- the title appears at the bottom of the screen
- "Killshot" -- the title now appears in the middle of the screen
- "Forgive Us Our Debts"
- "Down for the Count (Part I)"
- "Down for the Count (Part II)"
- "Cuba Libre"
- "Duty and Honor"
- "The Afternoon Plane"
- "Lend Me an Ear"
- "Red Tape"
- "By Hooker by Crook"
- "Knock, Knock... Who's There?"
- "Viking Bikers from Hell"
- "Everybody's in Showbiz"
- "Heroes of the Revolution"
As with season 1, season 4 is not affected by any obvious continuity goofs as a result of reordering.
Season 5 contains another goof relating to a character's beard, when Tubbs appears clean shaven in "Borrasca", only for his facial hair to return in the next episode, before he then shaves it off during that episode. Another major continuity issue in the season concerns the placement of the "lost" episodes -- these were not originally broadcast as part of thew show's network run, but were instead shown later. This is typically reflected in lists of the show's episodes, but having them appear after Crockett and Tubbs quit the force in the series finale "Freefall" clearly makes no sense.
- "Hostile Takeover"
- "Redemption in Blood"
- "Heart of Night"
- "Borrasca" -- Tubbs has his beard, shaving it off during the episode, so this episode comes before those where he is clean-shaven
- "Bad Timing"
- "Line of Fire"
- "Asian Cut"
- "Hard Knocks"
- "Fruit of the Poison Tree"
- "To Have and to Hold"
- "Miami Squeeze"
- "Jack of All Trades"
- "The Cell Within"
- "The Lost Madonna"
- "Over the Line"
- "Victims of Circumstance"
- "World of Trouble" -- the "lost" episodes should evidently take place before the season finale
- "Miracle Man" -- one of the "lost" episodes
- "Leap of Faith" -- one of the "lost" episodes
- "Too Much, Too Late" -- one of the "lost" episodes
- The modification of the order of a television programme's season by the network was a fairly common practice prior to the 1990s. It usually resulted from a desire to have more striking, hard-hitting or simply better quality episodes shown at specific points in a show's season (typically at the start of a new season, during November and February "sweeps" -- when advertisement rates are set for the remainder of the season -- and towards the end of a season, also known as "May Sweeps"). However, as television series of the time generally contained little in the way of overreaching plots that crossed multiple episodes, networks often made these changes with little research as to their consequences.
- While Miami Vice's cross-episode continuity was often affected by network tampering, producer Michael Mann's other 1980s television series, Crime Story, had no such problems, largely because NBC executives were made aware from the start that it featured a single plot arc that stretched across it's entire production, necessitating a fixed broadcast order. This arc-driven style is commonplace today, with shows such as 24, The Sopranos, The Wire and the re-imagined Battlestar Galactica all featuring stories that reach across multiple episodes and even multiple seasons. Crime Story is often cited as the prototype for this concept.