The Cows of October
12 (80th Overall)
February 5, 1988
June 10, 1988
A cowboy's ostensible plan to improve his cash in on bull semen ensnares Vice, Cuban agents, the federal government, and Izzy.
In a relatively light-hearted episode with no killings, the team is staking out a 30 key drop by a dealer named Roxy when suddenly a herd of cattle begin stampeding, blowing their cover as Roxy's men drive by afterwards. They find a man knocked out and a hissing silver can nearby, which is confiscated when they suspect it of being a bomb.
The lab determines the "bomb" is actually bull semen, and its irate owner, Calvin Teal (Gerrit Graham), stops by because they let it thaw, claiming he had two containers of Gargantua's sperm (his now-deceased bull, named for his "equipment"), worth $100,000 each, one was stolen and the other was thawed by the police, they both were to be shipped to Teal's partner in Belize.
At OCB, Castillo brings in FBI Agent Timothy Anderson (Harry Shearer), who needs a local liaison to locate the missing semen, and after a lively conversation about bovine sex habits, Tubbs & Switek go speak to a farmer who tells them all they need to know about cows, including how to check for pregnancy (gloves provided), Gina looks at a picture of "Gargantua", and Teal said he died after tripping into a hole "servicing a heifer" and had to be sold to slaughter.
While Tubbs, Switek & Teal go see Izzy (selling bullwhips with Manny), a man named Rojas is taking pictures and communicating that he has the Texan under surveillance. Izzy said there is someone he can speak with about the semen and will contact them. Izzy brings the seller, Paco, to a marina where Switek busts him, then as Anderson comes out as well, shots are fired, Paco and the shooters escape, and Rojas leaves Anderson a pink cigar on his car hood. At OCB, Anderson discloses that Cuban intelligence is after the semen for miniature cows, causing a run of laughs and guffaws from the team.
The miniature cows are to be used for lower cost milk production in Third World countries. Izzy agrees to set up a meet with Paco and Teal for the semen, Teal has $86,500 and Switek adds some as an investment to get the amount up to a round number. Then Anderson stops by Izzy's threatening to take his outstanding warrants to INS, then agrees to a deal for the semen at $200,000, then Rojas (Geno Silva) calls Izzy, also calling in his warrants, and agrees to $259,000 for the semen, which Anderson has a tank of, but those are full-size cows, not minis. Izzy meets with Rojas, then Anderson takes a shot at them, which causes Rojas and his goons to throw Izzy into their car and escape. Tubbs & Switek are stunned Anderson was involved in their escape, but lets them in on the scam. Rojas has Izzy hung upside down, and the informant pleads to be let down as he told them Anderson was the one scamming, but finally cracks and tells Rojas Paco has the tank, and Rojas gives him a booby-trapped briefcase totalling $300,000, and it's set to blow up if Rojas decides to.
Teal gives Gina some of his cowboy "charm", and Crockett & Tubbs decide to do a make on him. Izzy gets a call from Paco (while Rojas listens through the case's hidden mic and Switek through the phone tap) and arrange a deal for the tank in the amount of $275,000. Izzy meets at a railroad crossing with Paco, who takes the money and the tank, while Izzy is stuck between two cars (Rojas & Anderson), who converge on Izzy, have a quick shootout with each other, and then both leave. Switek wants to shoot Izzy for letting the money and the tank get away.
Crockett gets back the report on Teal and finds he's a bunco artist with rap sheets from Los Angeles and Denver, and stole $100,000 from investment bankers on a phony mutual fund deal, much to Gina's & Switek's shock. Izzy is packing his bags when Teal stops by with what he claims is the real tank, and wants to make a deal with Izzy, and calls Anderson to offer the tank for $550,000, then Rojas wants it for $600,000, and a bidding war starts, finally reaching $1,000,000 from Rojas, and the meet takes place in the Miami River. But Anderson intercepts Izzy, who takes the tank at gunpoint and switches it with another, then gives the tank to Rojas in exchange for the money, while Crockett observes. Teal & Izzy are set up in a luxury hotel and Izzy wants his 20% cut promised by Teal, but the cowboy offers Izzy a deal for his 20%--"guaranteed" contracts from the Saudis for 20 tanks of bull semen, saying the Arabs crave milk. Izzy agrees.
Just as Teal starts hustling out the door with the million, Crockett is waiting. He lets Teal know how he caught on to his scheme—the picture taken of him & "Gargantua" is a composite (both pictures taken at different times), and Paco was working for Teal from the beginning. Teal implores Crockett as a fellow Southerner and gentleman, to let him go not least because Rojas will be after him. Crockett agrees but tells him "the money stays". Izzy & Crockett soon discover Teal left with the money and stuck them with a suitcase full of magazines. Teal is last seen on a plane, well-dressed and sophisticated, speaking in an Australian accent and trying to sucker a wealthy-looking older Asian man into yet another scam.
- Don Johnson as Metro-Dade Detective James "Sonny" Crockett
- Philip Michael Thomas as Metro-Dade Detective Ricardo "Rico" Tubbs
- Saundra Santiago as Metro-Dade Detective Gina Calabrese
- Michael Talbott as Metro-Dade Detective Stan Switek
- Olivia Brown as Metro-Dade Detective Trudy Joplin
- Edward James Olmos as Metro-Dade Lieutenant Martin "Marty" Castillo
- Harry Shearer as FBI Agent Timothy Anderson
- Gerrit Graham as Calvin Teal
- Geno Silva as Rojas
- Martin Ferrero as Izzy Moreno
- Haywood Galbreath as Policeman
- Marilyn Laudadio as Chemist
- Thelton W. McCorcle as Jerome
- Ana Menendez as Assistant
- Roxy Rapp as O'Connor
- Rene Rokk as Paco Hermosa
- Unknown as Manny
- This episode, along with "Missing Hours" and "The Big Thaw", frequently tops fans' "worst episode" lists.
- All of the non-Jan Hammer/John Petersen music are instrumental themes from famous western movies.
- We learn Izzy has twelve telephones at his place of all shapes and sizes.
- Anderson saying, "It would be wrong, but I could..." is a satire of Richard Nixon's famous admission on the White House tapes.
- Crockett dealt with another fraud artist, Phil Mayhew, in season 2's "Phil the Shill". Mayhem got away with only $175,000, instead of the million Teal escaped with.
- The episode was dedicated to Kay Talbott, Michael Talbott's mother.
- The lengthy scene with Izzy on the railroad tracks is a salute to the extended opening of the classic Western Once Upon a Time in the West.
- Despite its arguably deserved unpopularity, this episode does make a point in paralleling Vice and the classic American Western, with their similar themes of brave lawmen who try to do the right thing against conscienceless bad guys concerned only with money and power. Izzy even wears the traditional black hat of the cowboy who acts against the law.
- During the failed exchange on the railroad tracks, the briefcase full of money can be seen sitting beside Izzy in one shot after Paco has already stolen it.
- Filmed: November 6, 1987 - November 16, 1987
- Production Code: 63510
- Production Order: 80
- Las Cuevas Del Sacramonte Restaurant 1794 NE 4th Ave, Miami (Izzy's apartment)
- Railway bridge between NW 36th Street and NW South River Drive (Izzy tries to stop Rojas/Anderson's cars)
- "Theme from Red River" by Dimitri Tiomkin (Cattle stampede during stakeout)
- "Wagon Train from Red River" by Dimitri Tiomkin (Switek & Teal at Izzy's)
- "The Good, the Bad and the Ugly" by Ennio Morricone (Izzy's meet with Paco at the railroad)
- "Theme from The Magnificent Seven" by Elmer Bernstein (Izzy & Teal meet with Rojas)
- "This can cause quite an explosion...in the cow population!" -- Lab Technician to Tubbs
- "What are we supposed to do, question happy cows with that... sexual afterglow?" -- Switek to Anderson
- "For your information, most cows don't enjoy it. That's why they have such sad eyes." -- Anderson's response
- "Close encounters of the weird kind!"--Izzy to himself on the railroad tracks
- "Should I be martinized for trying to stop World War III?" -- Izzy to Switek
- "Aw, listen, federal breath!, if you can sell cola to the ChiCom's, I can sure sell cows to Castro!" -- Teal to Anderson
- "Where are you going, Hud?" -- Crockett to Izzy