'Moonlighting': Mad About Maddie and David

By Jen Chaney
washingtonpost.com Staff Writer
Tuesday, May 31, 2005 12:00 AM

"Moonlighting: Seasons 1 & 2" (List price: $49.98)

Release Date: May 31

TV shows are literally flooding the DVD market these days. Classics like "I Love Lucy," contemporary favorites like "CSI" and even obscure guilty pleasures from the '80s -- "Punky Brewster" or "Too Close for Comfort," anyone? -- are all available for purchase by discriminating couch potatoes.

Consequently, it's no surprise that the first two seasons of "Moonlighting," the unconventional 1980s detective show that broke creative ground as well as Bruce Willis's career, are now available in a DVD box set. In fact, the only shock is that the screwball romance-mystery series didn't hit the home video market sooner.

Sometimes revisiting a once-beloved TV series can be a letdown. What seemed like hilarious antics in 1985 may not seem nearly as funny in the harsh light of 2005. Fortunately for "Moonlighting," which aired on ABC from 1985 to 1989, that's not the case. The 23 episodes certainly are filled with their dated moments; the only thing bigger than Willis's Ray-Bans are the shoulder pads in Cybill Shepherd's endless parade of silky business suits. But the trademarks of this ahead-of-its-time series -- rapid-fire dialogue, Howard Hawkes-style humor and the crackling chemistry between leads Willis and Shepherd -- are timeless. That makes stepping back inside the Blue Moon Detective Agency, for the most part, unadulterated joy.

I say for the most part because the special features don't pack quite as much punch as I'd hoped. In addition to the episodes, the six-disc collection includes a two-part documentary about the series; "The 'Moonlighting' Phenomenon," a featurette that includes interviews with fan club members; and commentaries on five of the episodes.

The docs uncover some interesting tidbits, including the fact that the head of ABC didn't want Willis for the role of David Addison because he "wasn't a leading man." (Good call, buddy.) But it seems like more could have been added to the mix. Where are the deleted scenes? And what about a blooper reel? Surely there must be hours of Willis comedic riffs that went unused.

Still, even if the extras aren't terribly robust, odds are "Moonlighting" fans won't mind. They'll buy the set to revisit the episodes, and those certainly won't disappoint. As a fan myself, I always knew "Moonlighting" was a good show. But this DVD collection reminded me that, very often, it was great.

Best Commentary: Shepherd and "Moonlighting" creator Glenn Gordon Caron have a lively, occasionally moving conversation while watching the episode "Every Daughter's Father Is a Virgin." Shepherd is remarkably candid, breaking briefly into tears when she realizes how much the plot mirrors her relationship with her own father. She's also not shy about expressing other sorts of feelings. "He's more attractive now without hair," she says while watching Willis, adding, "Of course, Yul Brynner was my first sexual fantasy."

Worst Commentary: Willis joins director Will Mackenzie to discuss the episode "My Fair David," which may be the best episode of "Moonlighting" ever (it's the one where Maddie bets David that he can't be a mature adult for one week). But the pair is so transfixed by the comedy that they barely make a peep.

Most Honest Bonus Point: When "Moonlighting" was at the height of its popularity, rumors flew constantly about on-set bickering. Allyce Beasley (who played Agnes DiPesto) and Shepherd both acknowledge the high-stress environment. During "The 'Moonlighting' Phenomenon," Shepherd admits that she and Willis "would fight before every fight scene" they filmed. Perhaps that's what put the tension in their sexual tension.

Coming in Next Week's 'Bonus Points': A review of "The Complete James Dean Collection."

If you have feedback about "Bonus Points" or want to suggest a DVD for review, e-mail Jen Chaney.

© 2005 Washingtonpost.Newsweek Interactive