Tropical Heat (or Sweating Bullets as it was known as here in the U.S.) aired from 1991-1993 as part of CBS’ original Crimetime After Primetime lineup, a collection of TV shows involving characters solving crimes in exotic locales. Tropical Heat follows the adventures of overly-confident Nick Slaughter (Rob Stewart), a former DEA agent who moved to Key Mariah, Florida to open open his own private investigation company. His partner (and the brains of the operation) is Sylvie Girard (Carolyn Dunn). Sylvie is the more sensible and fiscally responsible one who keeps Nick on task and makes sure the business keeps running. Nick is a player, always hitting on new women and getting into trouble. Sylvie seems to be one of the only woman not taken in by Slaughter’s charm. Together, Nick and Sylvie assist people in trouble, find proof of infidelities, investigate insurance fraud, and help solve crimes on the quay. In the process, they usually end up butting heads with local cop Lt. Carillo (Pedro Armendáriz Jr.).
In the premiere, Slaughter teams up with Philadelphia cop Ollie Porter (Eugene Clark), who later returns to the quay to join the Key Mariah PD. For the first two seasons, Slaughter often hangs out with, and seeks help from buddy Ian Stewart (John David Bland), the owner of a beachside bar called Tropical Heat Bar. During the second season, Spider Garvin (Ian Tracey) replaces Ian as the new owner of the bar, and regular consultant. The second season also adds dorky coroner Rollie (Allen Nashman)—a former client with a crush on Sylvie—and Sgt. Gregory (Ari Sorko-Ram), who eventually replaces Carillo as the thorn in Slaughter’s side. In the middle of the third season, the series also introduces dimwitted cop Deke (Craig Urbani). In 2001, the 2-part 1992 episodes, “Deadly Switch: Parts 1 & 2”, were re-edited (now with nudity) and released as the feature “Criss Cross< From the Files of Tropical Heat“.
While I was a big fan of CBS’s Crimetime After Primetime lineup (I even co-founded the official Silk Stalkings fan club), for some reason I never really watched this series. So I was excited to get the chance to check it out via Mill Creek’s new DVD box set. I have to say that I was pleasantly surprised. In a lot of ways, it reminded me quite a bit of Silk Stalkings. While the storylines and cases are a bit less based in sex, the show does seem to move more in that direction as the series goes along, especially with the Criss Cross film. There is also a lot more humor in Tropical Heat. There is this great chemistry between the characters, especially between Nick and Sylvie. They have this fun banter with one another, but I like that the writers didn’t go in the will they/won’t direction, and instead just made the characters partners and friends. There is also this really dry humor to the show, with the characters constantly cracking one-liners.
Slaughter: Spider, I need you to distribute a picture.
Spider: What do I look like, 20th Century Fox?
The jokes often remind me of the Airplane style of puns and double-talk. In addition to the humor, the series also has a lot of action. Often the cases result in some sort of shootout, chase, or other dangerous situation. Though things always manage to remain light and fun, setting the mood with an upbeat reggae score and the extremely catchy “Anyway the Wind Blows” theme song by Frank Mollin.
This is not the type of show that is going to win any Emmys. The acting and writing are not always at the highest level, but that adds to the charm, nostalgia and entertainment value of the show. As I made my way through the series, I wondered why I never watched this when it originally aired. I was thoroughly enjoying myself and couldn’t wait to watch more. The shows sets up this fun world that you just want to take in and enjoy. (Or maybe it’s just seeing the tropical locations after being locked down for a year!) I would love to see Mill Creek give more fo the Crimetime After Primetime shows, especially Silk Stalkings, the same re-release treatment including a convenient digital copy.
Tropical Heat was previously released on DVD by Tango Entertainment almost 15 years ago, but that release crammed 66 episodes onto just 9 discs. The picture quality on Mill Creek’s new re-release fares a bit better, spreading the episodes across 11 discs, and including the 2-hour film Criss Cross on a separate disc. The picture quality of Criss Cross easily looks the best, while season 2, where 7 episodes are placed on each disc, definitely looks more compressed than the others. That said, the picture quality is pretty decent given the source. You’re never going to get a pristine, detailed image out of a series like this, but it is certainly watchable, and likely better than it would have looked on old VHS tapes. As for the audio track, all of the sound resides in the center channel, but the dialogue still remains clear among the score. Each disc offers a Play All option and optional English SDH subtitles.
Early episodes of the series start off with this odd recap of the episode before it even airs. When this happened on the first episode, I thought I had missed something, not realizing it was actually meant as a preview of the current episode and not a recap of a previous episode. Fortunately, these unnecessary spoilers are only part of the first production season (22 episodes) and then dropped for the later seasons. While there is no bonus material on the discs, Mill Creek’s new release does include a digital copy of the episodes/movie for its MovieSpree streaming service. This is such a great, convenient addition! When comparing some of the earlier episodes between the DVD and the streaming, I think the picture actually looked a bit cleaner and brighter on MovieSpree. However, fast motion seemed to cause some ghosting and clarity issues on the picture while streaming.
The series comes packed in a sturdy carboard box. Inside are the digital copy redemption sheet as well as 6 tall cardboard cards, with a slot on either side to hold one disc. The first season’s 9 episodes are spread across 2 discs, the second season’s 21 episodes across 3 discs, the third season’s 36 episodes across 6 discs, and the Criss Cross film resides on its own disc.
- All 66 episodes of the series, plus the feature film Criss Cross:
- Season 1 (1991, 9 eps) (7:32:58):
Disc 1: “Hard Case”, “Fowl Play”, “Death’s a Beach”, “Family Affair”
Disc 2: “Roll of the Dice”, “Double Time”, “Forget Me Not”, “For a Song”, “Marissa”
- Season 2 (1991-92, 21 eps) (17:29:14):
Disc 1: “The Mariah Connection”, “Mafia Mistress”, “A Perfect .38”, “Dead Men Tell”, “Big Brother is Watching”, “This Year’s Model”, “Writer Wrong”
Disc 2: “Runaway”, “Sex, Lies and Lullabies”, “She”, “Tara, Tara, Tara”, “Abandoned”, “Deceit”, “Party Girl”
Disc 3: “Double Fault”, “Alive and Kicking”, “Tattooed Lady”, “Users”, “Frame Up”, “Going to the Dogs”, “Dial 9 for Murder”
- Season 3 (1992-93, 36 eps) (29:47:13):
Disc 1: “Twice as Dead”, “Deadly Switch: Part 1”, “Deadly Switch: Part 2”, “Over My Dead Body”, “White Hot”, “Stranger in Paradise”
Disc 2: “The Pro & the Con”, “Don’t Say Nothin’ Bad About My Baby”, “Ocean Park”, “Jack of Diamonds”, “His Pal Joey”, “Grasping at Shadows”
Disc 3: “The Last of the Magnificent”, “The Patsy”, “May Divorce Be with You”, “Feedback”, “Basic Black”, “Born Tomorrow”
Disc 4: “Object of Desire”, “Royal Pain”, “Poison Ivy”, “Massage in a Bottle”, “Mutiny and the Bounty”, “Seen at the Crime”
Disc 5: “You Stole My Heart”, “Gun Shy”, “Kiss Kiss Bang Bang”, “Spider’s Tale”, “Turning Screws”, “Tess”
Disc 6: “Deal of a Lifetime”, “Katie’s Secret”, “Slummin’ It”, “Man with the Midas Touch”, “Forbidden Fruit”, “Smut and Nothin’ But”
- Criss Cross: From the Files of Tropical Heat (1:27:19)
- Season 1 (1991, 9 eps) (7:32:58):
- 480i / 1.33:1
- Audio: English Dolby Digital 2.0
- Subtitles: English SDH
- SD Digital copy redeemable via MovieSpree
Digital (code may be subject to expiration):
There is no bonus material included on this release.
Tropical Heat (aka Sweating Bullets) is a really entertaining action/comedy with fun characters and interesting storylines. While the picture and sound quality isn’t the greatest, this is a limitation of the source. However, it is still quite good given the age of the production, and never detracted from my enjoyment of the series. There is no bonus material included on the discs, but the release does include a digital copy of the series on the MovieSpree service, which provides a really convenient way to watch without the discs. This release is an easy recommendation for any fan of the series, 90s cop shows, or the Crimetime After Primetime lineup in general, or anyone just interested in a fun show about a crime solving duo.