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Moonlighting - Seasons 1 and 2 Review




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Rating
Video:   8/10
Audio:   7/10
Extras:   4/10

Funny show
by Gord Lacey (All reviews)
5/29/2005

Maddie Hayes, a former model, wakes up one morning to discover that her business manager has taken all her money and fled. She still has some assets - companies that were set up to lose money and at as tax write-offs. One of the companies is "City of Angels Investigations" run by David Addison, a detective agency without any clients. Maddie visits the agency to shut it down, but Addison persuades her to keep the business open long enough to solve one big case. They pull it off, and use the case, and Maddie's fame, to bring in new cases.

I had heard of Moonlighting before the set arrived, but I hadn't seen it before. I knew it was about a detective agency, and that it starred Cybill Shepherd and Bruce Willis, but that was about all. I also heard that the characters would sing songs, and I had these horrible visions of a musical where they would break into song and dance about. I was very happy to find out that wasn't the case. It's a very funny show about a complex relationship between a man, and a woman.

This 6 disc set comes in a neat book-style case, but the disc art is pretty poor.

Disc 1 (3:09:08)
Pilot (1:33:08)
Gunfight at the So-So Corral (49:56)
Read the Mind - See the Movie (46:04)

Disc 2 (3:10:10)
The Next Murder You Hear (50:21)
Next Stop Murder (48:47)
The Murder's in the Mail (42:52)
Brother, Can You Spare a Blonde? (48:10)

Disc 3 (3:12:22)
The Lady in the Iron Mask (45:15)
Money Talks - Maddie Walks (47:21)
The Dream Sequence Always Rings Twice (49:35)
My Fair David (50:11)

Disc 4 (3:13:46)
Knowing Her (49:21)
Somewhere Under the Rainbow (47:54)
Portrait of Maddie (47:31)
Atlas Belched (49:00)

Disc 5 (3:48:55)
Twas the Episode Before Christmas (40:59)
The Bride of Tupperman (49:36)
North By North DiPesto (48:44)
In God We Strongly Suspect (45:46)
Every Daughter's Father is a Virgin (43:50)

Disc 6 (3:13:41)
Witness for the Execution (49:24)
Sleep Talkin' Guy (49:24)
Funeral for a Door Nail (46:10)
Camille (48:43)

Video

Lions Gate paid to have the episodes restored, and they look very good given their age. There's a bit of dust and grain in certain scenes, but not as much as other shows from the 80s I've been watching recently. I found a few scenes rather dark; the actors would blend into the background. Each disc contains a "play all" feature, and a chapter placed after the opening credits.

I'm sure a few of these episodes are syndicated prints, but I have no way to tell since I've never seen the show before. "The Murder's in the Mail" doesn't look right at 42:52, and the Christmas episode, "Twas the Episode Before Christmas," looks very, very short. I know they ran short on the episode, which is why they sang Christmas carols, but it's still way under the time it should be. I was speaking with Diana Maiocco, Media Director for the Moonlighting Strangers Fanzine (www.moonlighting21.com), about these cut episodes, and she told me she heard it'll be a mixture of original and syndicated episodes, but she hasn't had a chance to determine which ones are cut. Of course another explanation could be that the episodes simply ran short of material.

Update - fans in newsgroups haven't noticed anything missing from the short episodes, so it appears that they just ran extremely short when they first aired. The episodes appear to be uncut, but if you notice any changes please let us know.

Audio

The audio on this release is interesting. The package lists it as stereo, but I didn't notice any stereo effects while I was listening to it. In the commentary on the pilot someone mentions that they wanted to broadcast in stereo, but ABC said no. I find it unlikely that Lions Gate would have access to the original audio recordings and then only do a stereo mix. It's more likely that this is a stereo mono track, which means the same audio on both the left and right tracks.

The audio on the episodes is a bit quiet, so I turned my receiver up to compensate. There isn't a wide dynamic range in the voices so they sound every so slightly muffled, but that's an issue with the original recording. I should also mention that the music used in the show has been licensed and included. The episodes are closed captioned.

Extras - How we rate extras

Commentary Tracks
Pilot - Glenn Gordon Caron (writer/creator), Robert Butler (director), Artie Mandelberg (editor) and Jay Daniel (producer)
The Dream Sequence Always Rings Twice - Peter Werner (director), Debra Frank (co-writer) and Glenn Gordon Caron
My Fair David - Will MacKenzie (director) and Bruce Willis
Twas the Episode Before Christmas - Peter Werner, Jay Daniel and Allyce Beasley
Every Daughter's Father is a Virgin - Cybill Shepherd and Glenn Gordon Caron

Not Just a Day Job (14:50)
A half-hour, in-depth look at the creative arc of Season One of the show, featuring exclusive interviews with Glenn Gordon Caron (creator/executive producer/writer), Artie Mandelberg (associate producer/director/editor), Robert Butler (director - pilot episode), Jay Daniel (executive producer/director), Cybill Shepherd ("Madelyn 'Maddie' Hayes"), Allan Wertheim (first assistant director), Allyce Beasley ("Agnes DiPesto"), Neil Mandelberg (editor), Al Jarreau (lyricist, theme song singer), Reuben Cannon (casting director), Bruce Willis ("David Addison Jr.") and Peter Werner (director).

Inside the blue Moon Detective Agency (15:35)
Part 2 focuses in-depth on Season Two. Learn the amazing stories behind the creation of Episodes 6-23, including the story of how they got Orson Welles to record an introduction to the show that aired just days before his death; and the critical acclaim garnered by the show. Features interviews with Glenn Gordon Caron, Allan Wertheim, Sheryl Main (post-production supervisor), Jay Daniel, Alf Clausen (composer), Bruce Willis, Will Mackenzie (director), Cybill Shepherd, Artie Mandelberg, Debra Frank (writer), Ron Osborn (writer), Skip Beaudine (first assistant director), Jeff Reno (writer), Peter Werner, Neil Mandelberg (editor) and Allyce Beasley.

The Moonlighting Phenomenon (11:35)
A look at how the show went from a small success to a worldwide cultural phenomenon, not just when it aired, but also in its afterlife among the fans. Jeff Reno, Robert Turturice (costume designer), Barry Garron (TV critic for "The Hollywood Reporter"), Diana Maiocco (fanclub member), Glenn Gordon Caron, Michelle Krueger (fanclub member), Sheryl Main, Kim Jackson (fanclub member), Cybill Shepherd, Debra Frank, Allyce Beasley, Brian Thompson ("Alistair" - pilot episode), Sandra King Carpenter (script supervisor), Pamela G. Hardin (fanclub member) and Jay Daniel are interviewed for this piece.

Moonlighting Pilot Promo (2:17)
A few promos advertising the pilot.

Summary

I wasn't sure what to expect this show, but I enjoyed it. I really enjoy Bruce Willis in movies, and it was nice to see how he got his start. He had only appeared in a couple of movies (without credit), and an episode of Miami Vice (done after the Moonlighting pilot). The show also helped Cybill Shepherd save her failing career. After a successful modeling career she began starring in movies with the help of Peter Bogdanovich, her lover. They produced a series of flops, and she took a break from acting, returning in 1983 to star in The Yellow Rose. The series lasted a season, which freed her up for the show that would bring her back into the spotlight, Moonlighting. The series saved one career, and made another.

This is a very clever, fun show, and I'm looking forward to watching season 3 when it's released.


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