1 August 2006 | theowinthrop
Actually we all dislike iambic pentameter
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 expectant parents!
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.