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The Great McCarthy


8 (8th overall)
November 16, 1984
April 5, 1985
TV Rating
Guest Stars
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"The Great McCarthy" is the eighth episode of Miami Vice's first season. It premiered on November 16, 1984, and was rerun on April 5, 1985. The episode introduces Crockett and Tubbs' long-suffering informant Izzy Moreno, who would go on to be regular supporting character over the course of the series.


Crockett and Tubbs use information from an informant to catch a drug smuggler with a taste for powerboat racing.


Crockett and Tubbs respond to a bank robbery in downtown Miami, chasing the thief into a nearby building under construction. They eventually find him hiding inside a dismantled escalator, covered in anti-theft dye from money he stole. The thief is Isadore Moreno, better known as Izzy. Back at OCB and facing his fourth felony conviction, Izzy begins giving up the names of every criminal associate he knows in a desperate attempt to stay out of jail. The Vice squad pay little attention to the litany of low-level offenders he lists, until he mentions one name that rings a bell... Louis McCarthy, whom OCB are currently investigating due to his alleged drug smuggling activities.

Tubbs (as Richard Taylor) visits the local marina and meets McCarthy, who mentions his annual boat race to Bimini and back but refuses to Tubbs and his associate Sonny Burnett enter. Tubbs continues to try and ingratiate himself, mentioning other business interests besides boating, but McCarthy seems uninterested; he does, however, invite Tubbs to come and watch the upcoming race. Also present at the meeting is McCarthy's accountant Dale "Giff" Gifford, actually an informant working for Crockett. Later that day, the Vice cops pay a visit to "the first class weasel" at his office, hoping to dig up some dirt on McCarthy. They check Giff's books -- while McCarthy certainly lives an extravagant lifestyle, they find no sign of illegal activity on his part. They do, however, learn that Giff is skimming money from his boss for McCarthy's girlfriend Vanessa, who runs a high-class men's clothing store. Crockett and Tubbs decide to go shopping, and Tubbs immediately hits it off with Vanessa while trying on sports jackets. They arrange a brunch date at McCarthy'd for the following day; much to Tubbs' annoyance, Crockett elects to join them.

At brunch, Tubbs' and Vanessa's mutual attraction begins to flourish, while Crockett unsuccessfully tries to secure a deal with McCarthy, either for drugs or a slot in the race. Nevertheless, McCarthy invites them both to a party at his house that night. After dark, Crockett and Tubbs search McCarthy's boat for any hidden smuggling compartments, but find nothing. Tubbs is anxious to leave and see Vanessa at the party, leading Crockett to warn him about getting too involved, but Tubbs assures him he is only using her to get to McCarthy.

At the party, Tubbs and Vanessa continue to flirt, until Giff arrives and invites her to dance. Elsewhere, Izzy attempts to help one of the beautiful women present light her cigar, but is thwarted by a faulty lighter. Crockett and Tubbs go and look for McCarthy, finding him beating his other guests at pool. Crockett challenges him to a game with a heavy wager -- if Crockett wins, he gets a slot in the race; if McCarthy wins, he gets Crockett's Ferrari Daytona. Crockett dominates the match and wins easily, and a gracious McCarthy shakes his hand. Their place in the race secure, Crockett goes to prepare, leaving Tubbs to dance with Vanessa; the pair end up passionately kissing on the dance floor. Afterwards, McCarthy confronts Tubbs at the bar, but seems neither surprised nor particularly angered by their actions. Izzy catches Crockett before he leaves and tries to pass on some important information, but is interrupted by the sound of a woman screaming outside. The party guests, Crockett and Tubbs included, rush to see what the commotion is about, arriving in time to see Giff's body being pulled from the water.

At OCB, Crockett suggests Giff was killed because McCarthy found out he was an informant, or because he was having an affair with Vanessa in exchange for skimming money into her account. Tubbs scoffs at the second suggestion, but Crockett feels he is blinded by his attraction to Vanessa. They meet with Castillo, who tells them Gifford was shot once in the back of the head with a .25 caliber pistol before being dumped into the ocean. He goes on to inform the Vice cops that he cannot secure the $25,000 ante Crockett needs to enter McCarthy's race, talking him that headquarters "doesn't have enough confidence in your racing ability". He does, however, suggest the two cops go and see Gina and Trudy, who are running a drug bust targeting a college professor and have $25,000 in buy money. After watching Gina, Trudy, Switek and Zito chase the dealer around the beachfront hotel before finally busting him, Crockett convinces Gina to lend him the money, promising to get it back. She warns him of the consequences to her career if she doesn't get it back before handing it over. That night, Tubbs and Vanessa end up making love.

The Great McCarthy's boat race

On the day of the race, Crockett, Tubbs and Zito arrive late in Crockett's Stinger and almost miss the start. During the race, they discover how McCarthy is smuggling his drugs into Miami -- by using two identical boats, the first of which (piloted by men impersonating McCarthy and his crew) runs the outbound leg to Bimini, where the second boat (crewed by McCarthy himself and carrying the drugs) discretely takes its place and makes the return run to Miami. Crockett pushes his modified cigarette boat to victory in the race, and at the marina afterwards McCarthy and his crew are arrested by Castillo and a force of Metro-Dade officers.

That night, Izzy goes to see Crockett on the St. Vitus Dance, where the Vice cop is spending a romantic evening with Gina. Izzy shows him what he wanted to tell him about at the party -- the gun used to kill Giff. He explains that he witnessed the murder and that Vanessa was responsible, killing Giff when he threatened to tell McCarthy about the money he was helping her skim after she tried to break off their affair. Crockett and Gina go to Vanessa's house to arrest her; Tubbs answers the door, and Crockett tells him that ballistics have confirmed the gun was the one used in the murder and that the fingerprints on it match Vanessa's. Taking the gun from Crockett, Tubbs goes back inside to arrest Vanessa for murder.


Guest Stars




  • This episode marks the debut of Martin Ferrero as informant Izzy Moreno. Ferrero previously played the cross-dressing Calderone lieutenant and killer Trini DeSoto in the pilot episode "Brother's Keeper". He would go on to reprise the role of Izzy in a further twenty episodes of Miami Vice, becoming the only character outside of the principal cast to appear in every season of the show.
  • The Jan Hammer track "Rico's Blues" also makes its debut in this episode, in the scene where Crockett and Tubbs visit Vanessa at her "very exclusive, very expensive" clothing store. The piece can be considered Tubbs' theme in the series, his equivalent of "Crockett's Theme", and often appears, appropriately enough, in Tubbs-centric episodes.
  • The Barnett Bank building that Izzy robs in the opening is now owned by Bank of America. Compared to the amusingly hopeless get-rich-quick schemes he is typically seen taking part in, bank robbery seems an unusually ambitious crime for Izzy to attempt.
  • During the boat race you can see several of the "Stiltsville" buildings out in the ocean. Stiltsville would be featured prominently in the episode "Out Where The Buses Don't Run".
  • This is another episode that features one of the leading duo becoming involved in a romantic relationship with a woman linked to the case, a relationship that inevitably ends in heartbreak by the end of the episode -- a recurring plot point in the series. Surprisingly, despite Crockett arguably being more famous for this, it is once again Tubbs who becomes involved, with Vanessa, who is ultimately revealed to be Giff's murderer.
  • This episode also features one of the few cases where Crockett and Tubbs are not ultimately revealed as undercover police officers to the target they are chasing -- McCarthy is busted by Castillo and uniformed Metro-Dade officers while Crockett and Tubbs merely look on, so as far as McCarthy is concerned, they are still the well-to-do drug dealers they always claimed to be.
  • Another example of 1980s "extravagance" is evident during McCarthy's party, extravagance being a recurring theme during the first two seasons.
  • Maria McDonald would return in the season 3 episode "The Afternoon Plane", as Tubbs' girlfriend Alicia.
  • The famous boat race scene would be emulated in the Director's Cut of the Miami Vice film, which opens with a similar race around Miami harbor.
  • "The Great McCarthy" would not be the last time Don Johnson raced powerboats. He later took part in the APBA powerboat championship in the late 80s, racing a Wellcraft SCARAB, the same boat Sonny Crockett piloted in seasons 2-5.
  • The aforementioned scene is also one of the very few times the color red appears on the show; red was one of the colors Michael Mann 'banned' from use on the production of the series, but owing to the fact the extra boats taking part in the race were simply owned and crewed by members of the public, the production team had to relent on this occasion and allow the red speedboat to take part.
  • This episode is the last in the series to show Crockett and Gina as being in a relationship. It is never really explained at what point they stop seeing each other, but evidently by the end of the season -- specifically the episode "Nobody Lives Forever" -- they are no longer together.


  • While Tubbs, Crockett, and Vanessa walk up the stairs at the clothing store after meeting for the first time, Tubbs can be seen talking but his voice is not heard - even though it seems their footsteps can be heard.
  • At the very start of the party scene at McCarthy's house, the band's lead singer can be seen singing into his microphone, even though the band are still playing the opening chords of "Some Guys Have All the Luck" and no one is actually signing.
  • When McCarthy wins the first game of pool, his opponent laments, "I didn't even get a shot!" However, the table is empty at the conclusion of the match; if McCarthy's opponent had never played a shot, all of his balls should still be on the table. The same happens during McCarthy's game with Crockett -- it is insinuated McCarthy never gets another shot after he breaks, yet all of his balls have been potted by the end of the match.
  • Before playing pool, Crockett mentions that McCarthy's race is "tomorrow". However, judging by events that follow, the race is actually at least two days away -- the next day, Gina and Trudy make their bust at the beach, while Tubbs and Vanessa spend the following night making love. Only after this does the race happen. It seems likely some of the episode's scenes were rearranged in the edit.
  • During his game of pool, Crockett pots the yellow three times.
  • When Gina and Trudy chase the professor around the pool, Zito can be seen jumping down from his lifeguard's highchair in the background. He then jumps down again in a closeup.
  • After borrowing the money from Gina and Trudy following their bust, Crockett and Tubbs walk towards camera and jump over a wall, in the process stepping in some plants they clearly didn't know were there.
  • The boat race is a continuity nightmare, with the relative positions of the boats taking part constantly changing from shot to shot. In the middle of the race, the participants also suddenly jump from racing through a channel with warehouses and industrial buildings on either side to being in the open ocean.

Production Notes

  • Filmed: October 4, 1984 - October 12, 1984
  • Production Number: 59509
  • Production Order: 9

Filming Locations

  • Barnett Bank Building 701 Brickell Avenue (Opening -- cop cars/ Crockett/Tubbs chase begins)
  • Stephen P. Clark Government Center 111 NW 1st Street, Miami (Opening--Crockett/Tubbs chase Izzy)
  • 485 W Matheson Drive, Key Biscayne (McCarthy's home)
  • Ritz Carlton Hotel, 455 Grand Bay Drive, Key Biscayne (Professor bust)
  • Government Cut (Boat Race)


Jan Hammer Music

  • "Marina" (Tubbs meets McCarthy at marina)
  • "Rico's Blues" (Crockett and Tubbs visit Vanessa's store, Tubbs makes love to Vanessa)
  • "The Great Boat Race" (boat race)
  • "Angelina Flashback" (Crockett and Gina on St. Vitus Dance)


  • "He's given up everybody he's known since the sixth grade." -- Castillo after Izzy's arrest
  • "But your reputation as a first-class weasel is still very much intact!" -- Crockett to Gifford
  • "It's getting late, and the king's got a date!" -- Tubbs to Crockett on McCarthy's boat
  • "I can win a ride in his Ferrari?" "No, you can win a ride in your Ferrari." -- McCarthy and Crockett before the pool match
Season 1 Episodes:

"Brother's Keeper" (Pilot) "Heart of Darkness" "Cool Runnin'" "Calderone's Return (Part I)" "Calderone's Return (Part II)" "One Eyed Jack" "No Exit" "The Great McCarthy" "Glades" "Give a Little, Take a Little" "Little Prince" "Milk Run" "Golden Triangle (Part I)" "Golden Triangle (Part II)" "Smuggler's Blues" Rites of Passage "The Maze" "Made for Each Other" "The Home Invaders" "Nobody Lives Forever" "Evan" "Lombard"