Michael Mann doesn't see what the big deal is. "I guess Miami Vice was a radical departure from everything else that was on TV at the time," says Mann, executive producer of the series. But the tricks Mann and others incorporated, including the prominent use of current music to create specific emotional reactions in viewers, were common in filmmaking. On Vice, Mann aspired to a grand, Hollywood sense of theater. "We were making movies, in a one-hour frame, on television."
The music cue that first set the show apart was Phil Collins' "In the Air Tonight," in the series' two-hour premier, "Brother's Keeper," on September 16, 1984. That episode had a lofty soundtrack, including songs by the Rolling Stones, Lionel Richie, Rockwell, and Cyndi Lauper. Collins' song, which had been released in 1981, sits masterfully under a sequence where Crockett drives his black Ferrari Daytona Spyder to a rendezvous with the Colombian drug dealer Esteban Calderone. (Collins' fantastic drum fill occurs as the Ferrari races out of a dirt parking lot.) "That is probably the prototypical Miami Vice sequence," Brother's Keeper director Thomas Carter told TIME magazine in 1985, while taking credit for the idea of using Collins' song.