Seasons 1 and 2

Moonlighting: Seasons 1 and 2

Moonlighting: Seasons 1 and 2 is a piece of television history that will add a lot to any collection

Moonlighting: Seasons 1 and 2

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There are some television shows that just resonates with the audience, a concurrence of the right cast and writing that strikes a cord with the viewers and becomes an almost instant hit.

In the later part of the eighties one such show was Moon-lighting. There were a lot of detective shows on television back then but this one had a little edge to it, it was not the typical pabulum the other networks where presenting, it was something rare on TV, it was intelligently done. The premise was simple. Former model Maddie Hayes (Cybill Shepherd) was enjoying life. She had been the public face of Blue Moon shampoo, a gig that afforded her a very comfortable life style. That is until she wakes up one morning to find that her personal chef was breaking every thing in sight. It turns out that the source of this ire was the paychecks to Maddie’s staff have bounced. Maddie goes to her lawyer and discovers that her once trusted accounted has absconded with all of her liquid assets leaving virtually without a dime to her name. What she still has are a bunch of failing businesses that had been used as tax write offs. There was a nail salon, a porno store and a broken down detective agency. Maddie starts going to the businesses to inform then she has to liquidate the assets she visits the detective agency where she is met by the quirky receptionist Agnes DiPesto (Allyce Beasley) who answers the phone with long, involved rhymes. Next she chats with the head of the agency, David Addison (Bruce Willis), a cocky man that is sure the agency can be turned around and make a profit. Maddie and Addison wind up pulled into a mystery that threatens their lives. Once out of danger with the case solved Addison proposes that Maddie official join the firm lending her name to help induce clients. Although Maddie balks at the offer Addison, with his usual flair, calls a press conference to announce the change forcing Maddie to agree. What followed was one of the truly great television series which redefined the genre forever.

The key point that made Moonlighting: Seasons 1 and 2 work was without a doubt the on screen chemistry between the leads. There was more than the usual sexual tension between them. Maddie was attracted to Addison, he was the bad boy that perennially attracts beautiful women, but there was also inside a good man with a strong sense of ethics. Addison was naturally attracted to his partner on a physical level but there was also a touch of big brother in the relationship. He wanted to protect this naïve person from a world she was ill equipped to deal with, this lead to the now famous bickering that made audiences tune in each week. Unlike the sickly sweet relationship depicted in Hart to Hart, there was always the on again, off again chance of the pair actually becoming a couple.

Moonlighting: Seasons 1 and 2 also had some strange cases for the duo. In one a hit man hires them to find a rival killer. In this episode, the second of the first season, keep a sharp eye out in the first five minutes and you’ll catch a glimpse of Tim Robbins in one of his first roles. In another episode they help a young woman who is convinced she is a leprechaun, not your typical television faire. One episode was done almost entirely in black and white in a homage to the mystery great Alfred Hitchcock. It even had a musical score reminiscent of the great Bernard Herrmann. It was the willingness to take risks like this that really made Moonlighting: Seasons 1 and 2 such a classic and why it holds up even twenty years after the original airings.

Like her character Maddie, Cybill Shepherd began her career as a model. This gave her an edge in creating a believable character in Moonlighting: Seasons 1 and 2. Instead of coming across as an ice queen Shepard was able to infuse a touch of vulnerability to Maddie helping the audience become emotionally invested in her plight. Although Shepard was in a few notable films such as Taxi Driver and Last Picture Show, her film career was uneven. Moonlighting: Seasons 1 and 2 propelled her to new heights and made her a favorite with the viewers. Moonlighting gave her an opportunity to show her talent for comedy, she has a natural sense of timing that player well off her co-star. Bruce Willis has never failed to entertain; I have enjoyed almost everything he has ever been in. Moonlighting was the first thing that Willis was in that he was actually credited for. As such he was a new face for the audience and he has gone on to become a true A-list star. Like his partner he has a sense of comedy supported by a quick wit and the ability to take on the most rapid dialogue possible. His patter in Moonlighting: Seasons 1 and 2 is something out of a Doctor Seuss book. He takes on these tongue twisters like few actors could. Together the pair made bickering into an art form not seen since the old classic Hepburn-Tracey films. Their chemistry came off the screen and captured the audience. While the role of sidekick or secretary is usually a very minor one Allyce Beasley took Agnes to folk lore heights. She caught on so well that episodes where introduced that featured her with the plot revolving around her. The use of her rhyming could have been tedious but Beasley made it camp and enjoyable.

The production values presented in Moonlighting: Seasons 1 and 2 was excellent. The Moonlighting series garnered several awards for direction, cinematography, music and casting. Few would have thought that a television series built around a model slash actress and a relative unknown would have affected the audience the way it did. The writing did not pander to the lowest common denominator. It required the audience to pay attention, to savor the intricate dialogue and bizarre plot lines. Sure there was action, usually Maddie getting into a jam that Addison has to rescue her from, but the interaction between Maddie and Addison carried each episode.

Lion’s Gate originally released only the two hour pilot to Moonlighting to gauge the market. They soon found out that people not only remembered the Moonlighting series but wanted more. In response to this they have now released Moonlighting: Seasons 1 and 2 in a single box set. Since Moonlighting: Seasons 1 and 2 was originally a mid season replacement the first season was only seven episodes plus the pilot. Rather than releasing Moonlighting: Seasons 1 on its own and making fans wait for the second Lion’s Gate combined the two in this six disc box set. The video held up amazingly well. The color balance remains well done with almost o artifacts. The mono audio was mixed into Dolby two channel mono. The level is a bit higher than move DVDs of eighties television shows. Lion’s Gate also included commentary tracks for select episodes as well as a featurette about the success of the series and a blooper reel. Some really funny things are to be had there! Rounding out the mix are some deleted scenes. Moonlighting: Seasons 1 and 2 is a piece of television history that will add a lot to any collection.

Movie Review of Moonlighting: Seasons 1 and 2
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