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This Twitter Thread of 'Miami Vice' Guest Stars is a Damn Celebrity Time Capsule

Miami Vice is one of those pop culture phenomena that if you weren't there to experience it, no description will suffice to explain it. And if you did bear witness to it, none is necessary. 

It is one of those pieces of art that is completely and utterly of its time. A few years earlier, it would never have been made. A few years later, and it would've been irrelevant. It came on the heels of the birth of MTV, back when Music Television was not just its name, but its entire existence. When the music video format was taking over all of entertainment. Both in style, and in the case of Miami Vice, substance. Because somebody came up with an idea (while probably staring into his own eyes reflected in a mirror between rails of cocaine) that went something like, "Kids are really into these rock videos. What if we worked them into the stories of a TV series? Like, I dunno, a cop show or something?" 

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Boom. That coke-addled elevator pitch became a megahit. Set in one of America's most picturesque cities. With two impossibly handsome leading men wearing tailored clothing that no honest cop could afford. With one driving a new car and the other a vintage car that cost more than the average late '80s Florida home. 

Personally, I was not a viewer. Vice was on Friday nights, which was etched in stone as a going out with my friends night at that time in my life. Though I was working my way through school with a job at a video production house in Kenmore Square. And all my older, more settled co-workers were fascinated by it. The technical and stylistic aspects of it anyway. After months of hearing them talking about it, I finally had a Friday where I was either too banged up from going out on Thirsty Thursday or too broke - or both - so I stayed in that night and, holy moly was I in for a treat. A giant, Hillshire Farms sample board of Grade A, all-American cheese. 

What I'll never forget is that Don Johnson's Sonny Crockett character going out to a bar where a hot chick picks him up and takes him somewhere for a night of wild stranger sex. Later on he wakes up alone, with his gun and badge stolen. So he does what any law enforcement officer would do. He wanders the streets, leans on lamp posts ripping butts with a pensive look on his face while Glenn Frey sings "You Belong to the City." Then randomly he meets up with the same woman and says to her, "That was uncool lady. That was major uncool." 

Later, some goons were holding Phillip Michael Thomas' Ricardo Tubbs' family hostage. He's told to drive up to this house by himself to deliver the ransom. So he pulls up in his city-block-long vintage Caddy convertible with the top down. And lying down out of sight across the back seat is his partner Sonny, holding a machine gun. While wearing shades. Because on that show, even while you're trying to rescue you best pal's wife and kids from a certain death, you didn't want to ever look major uncool. I was hooked. Not enough to give up my Fridays or record it. But hooked nevertheless by the utter ridiculousness of it.

Which brings me, finally, to this Twitter thread. Some creative genius went through the guest stars who appeared on Miami Vice before their acting careers really took off. I've long assumed that no show has ever launched more careers than the Law & Order franchise. But I stand corrected. As ludicrous as the rest of the show was, it must have had the greatest casting directors in television history. Because look at just some of these stars before they were stars. Besides Ed O'Neill, they had:

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I could go on, but I'd be here all day. Oscar nominee after Oscar nominee playing all manner of lowlife hood and crime overlord. And that doesn't even include the long established music superstars like Willie Nelson and Phil Collins who played bit parts. Just an amazing form of time travel, courtesy of mass entertainment and the internet. 

I think the reason Vice has never gotten the snarky, satirical update like Baywatch or 21 Jump Street did, is because you can't parody something that was already a parody of itself.  You can't out preposterous the preposterousness of the source material. So it has to stand alone, as is. Meant to be kept forever on the kinds of cable channels that carry ads for reverse mortgages and William Devane telling you to buy gold and silver. Watched by aging hipsters who were there and remember a time when cruising through Miami, the water and skyline of the city a blur outside your car window while a pop music anthem blared as you went to bust some dangerous perp was the dream of every male. And fixing the wounded soul of this damaged loner was every female's fantasy. I just never realized how great this silly, absurd series was at churning out legends. Until now. 

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