March 3, 1985…The City of Angels Detective Agency became Blue Moon Investigations and from then on, my life would never be the same. That was the day I first met wise cracking detective David Addison (played by new-comer, Bruce Willis) and former model Maddie Hayes (Cybill Shepherd), the sparring duo that made Moonlighting, “water cooler tv.” And left you constantly wondering, “will they or won’t they?” But the show was so much more than a vehicle for Unresolved Sexual Tension. It had a little bit of everything…comedy, drama, romance, mystery, and music! The show’s theme song, by Al Jarreau, was a number 1 hit on Adult Contemporary radio back in 1987. And even had its own music video!
Then there’s the episode, “Big Man on Mulberry Street,” which features the Billy Joel song of the same name and a dance sequence directed by Stanley Donen a veteran of Hollywood Musicals like, Singin’ in the Rain.
Where else can you find such an elaborate production on television? Okay, well, maybe on Glee, but certainly not on a detective show! Music was such an integral part of the series. From time to time, Maddie & David would actually get surprise visits by famous musical acts. In Season 3, The Temptations dropped by the office to try to teach Maddie, how to get funky!
This show never ceases to entertain. In Season 4, Ray Charles and The Raylettes appear at David’s apartment to give him some advice.
You just never know what to expect! This series was all over the place! Moonlighting was such a mixing of genres, which is part of why I love it so. It was one of the first examples of a Dramedy, which led to it being nominated for both best comedy and best drama in the same year. The first time in the 50 year history of The Director’s Guild of America that had ever happened!
Here’s a little bit of the silliness that Moonlighting is known for:
Yep, Dr. Seuss-like rhymes! Even Maddie Hayes is amazed at what she’s seeing! But that’s not the only thing that separated Moonlighting from the pack. The series also frequently broke the 4th wall, acknowledging it was a TV show, referencing the viewers, the writers, and the network.
Sometimes, the show would incorporate many of the things that made the series unique all in one scene. The 5th Season’s opening was a combination of song and dance, comedy, and the breaking of the 4th wall.
This truly is a series that was ahead of its time. Not to mention very costly! One of the show’s most famous episodes, The Dream Sequence Always Rings Twice, an homage to 1940’s Film Noir, cost a whopping 2 million dollars! The high production cost is one of the reasons the series still holds up. Each episode is like a movie and was shot on film instead of tape. So, even if the subject matter isn’t your thing, aesthetically, it’s gorgeous. Thanks to Cinematographer, Jerry Finnerman, a veteran of old Hollywood. Just take a look at this clip! Cybill, doing her best Rita Hayworth, is glowing, thanks to the use of a diffusion filter.
Another one of Moonlighting’s most famous and expensive episodes is the take on The Taming of The Shrew, “Atomic Shakespeare,” where David & Maddie play Petrucchio & Kate. This installment remains popular today and is even used in some English classes.
And, of course, no Moonlighting review would be complete without showing you a little of the David And Maddie magic. And why we all fell in love with them. They had a love you could feel. Just look at this clip from one of my favorite episodes of all-time, “Witness For the Execution.” Maddie and David share their first kiss in a parking garage. And all of America went crazy. It’s what we had been waiting for, but in true Maddie & David fashion neither was willing to be the first to admit what just happened. So, instead, they denied it. But there was no denying their feelings, no matter how hard they tried.
And it’s one of the reasons we continued to tune in every Tuesday night! Even to this day, there really is no other show like it. It’s the kind of series that only comes around, Once in a Blue Moon. If you’ve never seen Moonlighting, I highly recommend you do. If for nothing else than to see Bruce Willis with a full head of hair! Happy viewing!
Moonlighting is available on DVD
And the Soundtrack album is available as well.