Only 21 comments proceed this one on this particular thread. That is
incredible to me. For in the middle and late 1980s MOONLIGHTING was one
of the biggest (if not the biggest) phenomenons to hit television.
It dared to take a normal type of show - the detective show - and turn
it into a mind blowing experience as it's battling heroine and hero
confronted cases, each other, and the universe weekly. Mattie Hayes
(Cybill Shepherd) and David Addison (Bruce Willis) ran a detective
agency together, only because it was Mattie's last asset after her
accountant ran off with her fortune (a later episode allowed them to
confront the scoundrel). Addison was running the small agency, but
since Mattie now depends on it for her income she takes over running it
and collides head on with Addison. He is a self-satisfied male
chauvinist, and she is a determined feminist. But despite their rigid
points of view they are attracted to each other. So the result
(normally) is that they get a client, and in analyzing the client's
problem it raises some issues that actually confront Mattie and David
in their lives, but the audience in it's lives too. The only other
regulars were Allyce Beasley as Agnes DiPresto, their receptionist who
always had a poetic effusion to greet the customers on the phone, and
Curtis Armstrong as Herbert Viola, a late arrival who is the firm's
bookkeeper and David's back-up man (and eventually Agnes' boyfriend).
I think the episode most people recall from this show is the experiment
with Shakespeare's TAMING OF THE SHREW, wherein Willis was Petruchio
and Shepherd was Katherine. Certainly it was a nice spoof, especially
as Shakespeare's play is out of step with present day views about
sexual equality. But the Shakespearean dialog was also spoofed -
leading to the concluding line (which suggested my "summary line"
above). But it was not the only good episode. The one where Agnes and
Herb solve a case by themselves was interesting - and the conclusion
where Mattie and David burst into the room to congratulate them, and
then turn around with Mattie saying, "And hopefully next week we'll
have more to do in the episode." was a good one too. So was one with
Joseph Maher as an angel talking to Willis as Mattie and David's child
in embryonic state. The birth of the child was expected by the
audience, but at the last moment the writers have poor Mattie miscarry.
Maher cheers up Willis by saying he shouldn't fear - he may end up the
new baby on one of two other current shows then on television that had
The writing, at it's best, shoved this show to the heights. In the
middle of an argument, Mattie tells David she does not give "a flying
frig" for his opinion. David looks at her quizzically, and says he
doesn't know what she means by "a flying frig". She looks at him
casually and says, "That doesn't matter...(they turn towards the
viewing audience)...THEY KNOW WHAT I MEAN!" In a moment of pure genius
the dialog would suddenly pick up a life of it's own and become pure
Dr. Seuss, with everyone in the scene joining in. There were in-jokes
about other shows. In an episode based on IT'S A WONDERFUL LIFE, Mattie
discovers what would have happened if she had sold the detective agency
(as she originally planned). It is bought by a husband and wife pair of
detectives who we never see: the Harts, from HART TO HART. But we see
their factotum assistant Max (Lionel Stander) still working for them.
In another episode, David (in a fit of emotion) begs Mattie to run off
with him and forget the agency. "If anyone has any problems, let that
old lady from the movies on the other channel solve them for them.", he
says. He's referring to Angela Lansbury in MURDER SHE WROTE on CBS.
With all the delays in production, all the unfortunate ego clashes, and
even the dip in the series quality in the last year, MOONLIGHTING was a
terrific show. It rarely is revived today, which given it's quality is
a terrible shame and waste.