Untapped Resources: Eartha Kitt

One of the things I love about Miami Vice, one of the qualities that helps it endure, is the strength and depth of character, both amongst the main cast and many of the guest stars.

This past weekend, after I had finished reading the obituaries covering the life and accomplishments of Eartha Kitt, I actually pulled out my Season 2 DVD and watched the episode “Whatever Works” again.

ChataMartin.jpg Even though she was on screen for maybe a total of 5 minutes, Eartha Kitt brought a presence to her character that was able to project a depth of character far beyond the few spoken lines she had. Giving her that sparse dialogue made it very easy to connect with the idea that she and Castillo had been long time acquaintences; two people who are both comfortable with themselves and their personal power, and comfortable with each other’s strong sense of self… friends from different walks of life to whom those differences matter not.

A lost opportunity, in my eyes, was the chance to later expand on the relationship between Castillo and Chata. Both of them projected the aura of strength and integrity with a quiet self-assuredness that was most definitely rare amidst the go-go flash of the mid-1980s. The scenes with them alone held a quiet yet raw energy that begged for more story to be told. It makes me wonder if anyone ever had the thought to have her character appear again, maybe 2 or 3 more times that season, or maybe have her show up once or twice a season, or a make a fixed number of appearances during the rest of the series run.

The simple truth is that to have been given a chance to explore that relationship between Chata and Castillo a tiny bit more, to have found out a little more about their past by seeing them work together again — and to see both Eartha Kitt and Edward James Olmos on screen together again — would have been a treat for the show’s fans, and should have been a creative story process that the show’s producers and writers should have been craving to put on screen again.

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