Slick, shamelessly self-aware and referential, creator Glen Gordon Caron's Moonlighting was the launching pad to mega-stardom for Bruce Willis and the restoration of model turned actress Cybil Shepherd's career.
On the surface a glossy romantic comedy-drama set within the familiar conventions of the detective show format, Moonlighting soon became a world-wide smash between March 1985 to May 1989, due to the genuinely ground-breaking approach of literally sledge-hammering the infamous "Fourth Wall" (which traditionally separates viewers from the characters in a series), into a million tiny pieces. Constantly anarchic, littered with movie and TV allusions, filled with razor-honed one-liners and breathlessly delivered over-lapping dialogue which would have made Howard Hawkes happy, the core cast threw themselves into the spirit of the proceedings with an energy and abandon which effortlessly carried the viewers along with the staff of the Blue Moon detective agency through an ever increasingly unlikely series of adventures.
The success - and also the eventual downfall of the series - was the will-they-won't-they?, romantic aspect of the relationship between Willis' cocky, brash, David Addison and Shepherd's more straight-laced, up-tight, model turned detective, Maddie Hayes. While the romance remained unfulfilled, unrequited, the show was at it's peak. The eventual consummation of their desire, along with the drawn out story arc culminating in Maddie giving birth to a baby, which was stillborn, was a miscalculation from which the show was never to recover. However at its peak Moonlighting was a screwball delight of the highest order. Genuinely innovative, it rose above its troubled and chaotic production history to emerge as a key show in the evolution of US television comedy-drama. Without the hip, fast-talking, lunacy of Moonlighting at its best, later series such as Ally McBeal might well never have arisen from its ashes.
Published on January 8th, 2019. Written by SRH (2000) for Television Heaven.