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Phil the Shill


11 (33rd overall)
December 13, 1985
Repeat Airdates
May 23, 1986
November 28, 1986
TV Rating
Guest Stars
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"Phil the Shill" is the eleventh episode of Miami Vice's second season. It premiered on December 13, 1985, and was rerun on May 23, 1986 and November 28, 1986.


A scheming con man arranges a drug deal as part of his scam.


Switek and Zito call in sick from work so Switek can appear on a game show, Rat Race, with game show host Phil Mayhew to win $100,000. It turns out the game is rigged, and Switek loses to a plant, Joe, that Phil uses to get the money for himself (and a $20,000 share to Joe that he also ends up keeping for himself). During this time, Crockett and Tubbs (filling in for the absent Switek and Zito) manage to arrange a bug on drug dealer Tony Rivers' car (after Crockett gets smacked around by Rivers' bodyguard and has his Ferrari spat on).

After the fight, Crockett and Tubbs see Switek and Zito on television, angering them for seeing they weren't really sick. Meanwhile, Rivers is angry about two guys who caused him to miss a vital drug connection and now needs a new source, so they were hanging from a warehouse by their feet and killed by Rivers' bodyguard. Crockett and Tubbs have a 90% positive make on Rivers' Mercedes in the area at the time of the killings. After overhearing Switek's rant on losing on Phil's show, Castillo decides to put Switek and Zito on double shifts to observe Rivers (and docked a day's pay for faking illness to be on the game show). Switek becomes obsessed with bringing Phil down. Crockett tells Castillo that the car wire shows Rivers is expanding his business, moving kees to doctors, stockbrokers, etc., using his girlfriend as a broker, but he supervises delivery. Phil takes his $100K and proceeds to buy a new Lamborghini, car phone, house, telescope, shoes, new clothes, and watches. During his watch shopping he runs into Rivers' girlfriend Sarah MacPhail, buys her a pearl necklace, claims he's a shopaholic around women and charms her into a date. Crockett and Tubbs observe Rivers' boat where Sarah and Phil are dining and observe Tim Stewart, a pilot Crockett busted four years earlier, with them. Izzy (called in by Switek and Zito) poses as an interior decorator, and he becomes Phil's right-hand man, arranging introductions if needed. Crockett and Tubbs confront Switek and Zito about this and Switek admits he called Izzy in because "Phil took my money!". Gina runs Phil through the computer and finds he has a long history of con jobs in England and has moved to the United States. Izzy completes his interior decorating (including a row of hubcaps on the wall, a fish over an archway and mismatched furniture) to Phil's approval and arranges a party with Sarah. Crockett and Tubbs lose Rivers' car while tailing it, then Rivers' bodyguard lets Rivers know he found the bug under the Mercedes' rear bumper while detailing the car and destroys it, preventing further observance by Crockett and Tubbs. Rivers then kills Stewart thinking he put the bug on the car.

Crockett and Tubbs find mainly lightweight buyers on Phil's party list so they will be attending as Burnett and Cooper. Castillo got a new wiretap warrant for Rivers thanks to the pilot's death so Gina and Trudy pose as caterers to set up the bugs on Rivers' boat. Phil's party starts and Sarah arranges for some drug buys, however Phil acts like a dealer and arranges for a lower price and larger volume than Sarah, and Rivers, agreed to. On Rivers' boat, Rivers is incensed over Sarah moving large weight (as he prefers selling "small respectable amounts to respectable people") and Phil moving in on his turf, so Phil is brought in for an offer he can't refuse - make the deal for the lower price and act as the middleman in exchange for his life (and a little beatdown by Rivers' men). While Izzy and a girl dance to no music, Phil tries to run, but Crockett and Tubbs find him first and let him know he will go to jail for what he has done, but Phil said he will hold up his end (and give up Sarah and Rivers) in exchange for immunity. Phil gets the place and time for the buy, the buyers show up at Phil's house to pay for their drugs, Phil said he will take their money and get their merchandise, however Burnett and Cooper "go where their money goes" so they go along with Phil, leaving the buyers at the house. They all meet at an amusement park where a shootout ensues, Rivers is killed, his men are shot and arrested, while Phil and Sarah got away with all of the money from the buyers (who won't come forward about their money without admitting to buying drugs). Switek is incensed that Phil got off scot-clean and Castillo closed the case. Later Zito and Switek are watching TV and see Phil on a faith healer show with Sarah as his co-host. Switek is so angry he pulls out his gun and after saying "This one's for you Elvis!", shoots out the television.


Guest Stars



  • A "shill" is a person who is secretly in league with another person or organization while pretending to be neutral, usually for financial gain.
  • We learn that Crockett's Daytona is painted Tuxedo Black (twelve coats, to be exact).
  • Phil Mayhew's distinctive car in this episode is a Lamborghini Jalpa, the lesser known Lamborghini of the 1980s behind the more famous Countach. A black Jalpa previously appeared in "The Dutch Oven", while another black Jalpa would be driven by an undercover Castillo in the season 4 episode "Indian Wars".

This one's for you, Elvis!

  • Switek's line, "This one's for you, Elvis!" refers to the time Elvis Presley shot a TV at the image of Robert Goulet, which was the subject of the $100,000 question Phil asked Joe in the game.
  • The surname of Phil Collins' character, Mayhew, along with the surnames of other supporting characters in this episode -- Stewart, Bruford, Banks, and Hackett -- are surnames of current (Banks) and former (Hackett, Bruford, Mayhew, Stewart) members of Collins' band Genesis. Also, MacPhail was the surname of Genesis' early tour manager.
  • Phil was married to his second wife Jill Taverman at the time of filming. She appears in this episode during Phil's party and later again dancing with Izzy.
  • The abandoned hangar where Rivers has two dealers executed previously appeared in season 1's "Evan", as the location where Evan Freed gives a demonstration of the MAC 10. It would appear again in season 4's "Missing Hours", where it portrays Lou DeLong's lab, and in season 5's "To Have and to Hold", as the location where Tubbs (as Cooper) and Ramon Pendroza are ambushed while making a deal. The hangar also appears prominently in the 1995 film Bad Boys, where it is the location of the climactic shootout (and in which it is obliterated by explosion).
  • This episode marks one of the first times the word "wanker" was aired on American TV. Being British slang, Collins found himself having to explain the meaning. The director liked it so much he kept it in. However, today, with the word having taken on a more vulgar meaning, British TV shows broadcast in the US (e.g. Top Gear, etc.) censor the word or cut the segment out. Keith Mollis would later use the term in "Line of Fire" from season 5.
  • Phil's latest scam as a televangelist, seen on TV at the very end of the episode, is especially ironic given that he would later record a song called "Jesus He Knows Me" with Genesis, which serves as a scathing satire of televangelists who exploit people for financial gain, on the band's 1991 album We Can't Dance. Coincidentally, the season 4 episode "Amen... Send Money" of Vice would also delve into such televangelism.
  • While advertising his services as a bogus interior designer to Phil Mayhew, Izzy reveals for the first time that like Trini DeSoto, he came to Florida on the Mariel Boatlift, calling himself "one of the great minds of the southern Florida refugee experience".
  • This is one of three episodes that do not feature the "Miami Vice Theme" over the closing credits -- the others being "Calderone's Return (Part II)" and the series finale "Freefall".


  • After briefly disappearing in the previous episode, Larry Zito's beard reappears. This continuity error is because the network changed the running order of the episodes, and it happened several times during season 2.
  • When the shootout at the fairground starts, all of the rides are suddenly turned on and running at full speed without explanation.
  • It's implausible that Switek would be able to work undercover after his appearance on TV, since it's unlikely that no one saw him appear on the gameshow and recognize him from there.

Production Notes

  • Filmed: October 28, 1985 - November 6, 1985
  • Production Code: 60037
  • Production Order: 34

Filming Locations

  • 19056 NE 29th Avenue, Aventura (Opening where Crockett fights with Rivers' bodyguard)
  • The Galleria 2414 E Sunrise Blvd in Fort Lauderdale (Phil's shopping spree and visit to jewelry store)
  • 971 Hillsboro Mile / A1A, Pompano Beach north of Fort Lauderdale (Phil's house)
  • Turnberry Way to Mystic Pointe Dr to under Lehman Causeway to Biscayne Blvd to NE 17th Str, Miami (Crockett/Tubbs follow Rivers)
  • Turnberry Isle Marina North Miami near Aventura (Marina and Rivers' boat)
  • Broward County Fair NW 52nd Str, Fort Lauderdale (Amusement park where shootout occurs)



  • Mercedes-Benz SEL (driven by Rivers' bodyguard)
  • Lamborghini Jalpa (driven by Phil Mayhew)


  • "This is the 80s, Phil, everyone takes drugs." -- Sarah MacPhail
  • "Birds of a feather, steal together!" -- Crockett
  • "Possession, a felony, maintaining a premises for the use of, also a felony, conspiracy to obtain for sale, a felony!" -- Crockett to Phil
  • "False passports, an assortment of fraudulent schemes, a real litany of evil, ain't I? Just for trying to pass a mildly dishonest buck!" -- Phil to Crockett
  • "Phil, you have won a scholarship, a FULL scholarship to Raiford - that's a prison we've got here pal... full ride, probably!" -- Crockett to Phil
Season 2 Episodes:

"The Prodigal Son" "Whatever Works" "Out Where the Buses Don't Run" "The Dutch Oven" "Buddies" "Junk Love" "Tale of the Goat" "Bushido" "Bought and Paid For" "Back in the World" "Phil the Shill" "Definitely Miami" "Yankee Dollar" "One Way Ticket" "Little Miss Dangerous" "Florence Italy" "French Twist" "The Fix" "Payback" "Free Verse" "Trust Fund Pirates" "Sons and Lovers"