"Contempt of Court" for me was a disappointment. It was a harbinger of things to come in season 4, in that it became increasingly apparent that Miami Vice had been burning the candle at both ends and was just getting tired of itself.
A large portion of this episode simply deals with tedious courtroom procedural. All the things that had made Miami Vice great and a pop culture and critics darling were merely glimpsed at, and viewers were made to sit through many minutes of courtroom talk that rarely felt this much out of place on the show that was Miami Vice.
It is said that this episode was chosen as the season opener to start the season with a bang, since Crockett is sent to jail for not giving up an informant. Well, that was an intriguing premise the first time around in "Give a little, take a little" in season one, but it says a lot that the best shot they felt they had at drawing in viewers was a recycled season one story line.
Season three was a slight disappointment in that the lighter tone of seasons 1 and 2 was given up in favor of endlessly brooding, nihilistic story lines that spent more time offering social commentary than staying true to Vice's original premise. On the other hand, storytelling wise, it featured some of the greatest moments of TV film noir in the entire series.
But season 4 was when Miami Vice didn't just jump the shark, but as somebody has said, was also doing back flips and singing show tunes while doing it. Very probably, the producers would have just had to continue the winning formula of seasons 1 and 2 and perpetuate and evolve it very carefully, without most of the radical changes that this TV series saw repeatedly during its five-year run. But Instead, season three first of all alienated viewers who had been tuning in for the gorgeous light pastels and the portrayal of easy criminal living in the Sunshine State, and then season four came along and made it worse by sometimes appallingly poor storytelling, and story lines that would have been too daft even for the campest of its TV crime drama contemporaries. Miami Vice by that point had become a self-caricature of its own former glory, a flaky and incoherent pastiche of elements of its former popular success.
My verdict is: Don't watch "Contempt of Court". Don't watch season four at all, or anything that came after it. Watch the first two seasons for their captivating vibe and gripping story lines, and a careful selection of season three episodes to witness the zenith of Miami noir. That will still leave you with a body of some 50 very watchable episodes, without staring into the abyss of burnout and hapless self-reference that was Miami Vice's latter two seasons.
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