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STUDIO: Lion’s Gate
RUNNING TIME: 600 minutes
• Original screen tests for Cybill Shepherd and Bruce Willis
The best show of the ‘80s and the biggest flameout of the ‘80s…
Cybill Shepherd, Bruce Willis, Allyce Beasley, Curtis Armstrong
"Man do I love it that you’re an Aerosmith fan, Maddie…"
After the major downer of a Season 4, which had David and Maddie in separate cities for half the season, Maddie pregnant with either Dave’s or Sam’s *scorn contempt scorn* baby, only to have her re-emerge married to some schlub named Walter Bishop (Dennis Dugan) she met on the train ride back to LA, and also saw the emergence of Bert Viola (Armstrong) to help pick up the slack, Season 5 sought to try to right the ship for our heroes, only to have a network axe the show, and that damned Anselmo case was never solved.
I’ve enthusiastically reviewed the first three seasons of the show (here and here), and although the boat sailed on Season 4, which in itself ain’t no great loss, I’m back to try to wrap up things on this, one of my favorite shows ever and the one I think was the of the ‘80s. Hands down, Moonlighting is one of the best examples of sharply written dialogue, great stories, and chemistry between the lead characters in TV history. But the behind the scenes difficulties of producing it, including frequent delays, coupled with Shepherd’s ill-timed pregnancy and an accident or two by Willis, served to rob the show of its full potential and shorten its Nielsen lifespan.
The original concept for the show, Moonpreschooling, definitely needed some reworking…
Season 5 picked up with Maddie still very pregnant and business as usual at the office. But this story happens to be told from the POV of her unborn papoose, Baby Hayes (Willis in a diaper), who learns who his parents are going to be from a guardian angel (“Womb With a View”). Of course if you’ve seen the show, you know that the whole baby thing doesn’t exactly work out as Maddie had a miscarriage. And for the record, David was the father, not *blind hatred* Sam. Maddie and David then spend most of the next episode, “Between a Yuk and a Hard Place”, avoiding each other over their loss, until things get worked out by a long, silent stint stuck in an elevator, thanks to a little sabotage by DiPpesto and MacGillacuddy. Eventually they work things out while solving a case, and the season tries to go on much like it used to before getting complicated with the storylines that plagued Season 4.
Sorry, I had to use the bathroom during this caption.
However, Maddie and David’s relationship wouldn’t ever be quite the same. In “The Color of Maddie,” they struggle to get their relationship back on track. But they eventually decide to just keep things on the business partner tip, as if either of them would ever be happy with that. Finally though, things really hit a snag when Maddie’s cousin, Annie (mmm, Virgina Madsen), shows up in town and when all is said and done, Maddie’s not the only blonde member of the Hayes family that David bags. A certain Demi Moore also makes a cameo in that episode. When the David / Maddie / Annie triangle is wrapped up in the last episode, there’s barely enough time for David and Maddie to say two words to each other before a network exec shows up to tell them they’re cancelled, even as the sets are being torn down.
It was obvious from the start that the Bruno the Kid show wasn’t going to work so well in live action…
Season 5 did feature some of the unique casework that Dave and Maddie found themselves involved in, including “The Color of Maddie,” where a woman hires them after her husband of only seven days shows back up after a ten-year disappearance. Or in “Plastic Fantastic Lovers,” where a disfigured man hires them to prove that the plastic surgeon who worked on him made him fugly on purpose. And in “I See England, I See France, I See Maddie’s Underpants,” the detectives are on the case when a man seeking their help drops dead in their office.
"You know, Demi, you really shouldn’t be sleeping with Ashton."
"And why not?"
"Because it’s 1989…and he’s 11…"
The first three seasons of Moonlighting were definitely some of the best TV I’ve ever watched, and despite the horrid fourth season and this somewhat disappointing fifth, it did manage to keep some of the sparks that established the show in the outset. But I do see why it got the axe when it did, because like the mysterious guy (frequent episode director and erstwhile Walter Bishop, Dugan) in the darkened screening room said to Dave and Maddie in the series finale: we fell in love with them falling in love, but they kept falling too long and never managed to land anywhere, and when they didn’t that was that. And strangely enough. I liked Ms. Dipesto and also Viola, but not really them together. Nevertheless, I was a huge fan of the show and it still holds up remarkably well after 20 years. It’s just a shame that it couldn’t hold up for a couple of extra seasons.
Good, I love Africa…
The thing that first stands out to me is that the packaging for this isn’t exactly what you’d call “slender”. Even though there’re only three discs, the case if the size of a six-or eight disc set. Other than that, the picture and sound are fine and there’re two commentaries: “Womb with a View” by Glenn Gordon Caron and exec producer Jay Daniel, and series finale, “Lunar Eclipse” features one by Dennis Dugan. There’s also a three-minute screen test from the pilot between the two leads that features commentary from Caron and Daniel.
"David, the show’s over, just like that. What are we going to do?"
"Well it’s only about a decade or so until that asteroid comes gunning for us…"