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By Mark Englehart

Some television ages well, some doesn't. For every Mary Tyler Moore Show that still rocks, there's a Family Ties that's painfully mired in its era. One would think this would be the case for Moonlighting, the detective series of the mid-1980s starring Cybill Shepherd (on a career rebound) and Bruce Willis (then unknown). The ingredients are all there: '80s fashion, hourlong TV mystery plots, Wayfarer sunglasses... Fortunately--and gloriously--this is not the case. As fresh as it was when it first aired, Moonlighting is a prime example of groundbreaking television at its peak and a timeless lesson in the science of star chemistry. Shepherd, as the ice-queen model Maddie Hayes, and Willis, as the "do bears bear, do bees be?" hipster-doofus David Addison, were the quintessential match made in hell, thrown together under dubious circumstances.

In this pilot episode, Shepherd, having discovered that her accountant has left her broke, proceeds to liquidate her assets, including the City of Angels Detective Agency, headed up by Willis. However, thanks to a dead body that pops out of an elevator, the two pair up to solve a case involving a broken watch and some pilfered Nazi loot, hoping to get some publicity (and cash) for their newly rechristened Blue Moon Investigations. The plot is negligible, involving a dead jogger, a mohawked hit man, and a sadistic henchman, but the mystery was never Moonlighting's selling point--it was the sparring, the swearing, the sparks that Willis and Shepherd created together.

Watching these two at their best (before the series slid downhill when they finally slept together), you'll realize that neither has ever been paired with a better costar; they bring out something in each other that's undiluted antagonism mixed with irresistible attraction. Discounting some of Shepherd's fashion choices and hairstyles, and Willis's, well, hair (he had some), this is timeless farce and screwball comedy in the tradition of His Girl Friday, snappily penned by Glenn Gordon Carron. Also featuring Allyce Beasley as rhyming secretary Agnes DiPesto, the only supporting character in the series who could intrude upon the Shepherd-Willis repartee without upsetting their rhythm.

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Your Memories Shared!

"Moolighting was one of the great breakthrough shows. They would break that "fourth wall" and talk to the audience and recognize that they were just a tv show. My favorite episode has to be "Atomic Shakespeare" where the cast did a shortend version of Shakespeare's Taming of the Shrew. For Star Trek Next Generation fans, Colm Meany ( Lt. O'Brein) has a guest apperance."


"(Mattie Hayes knocks on the door) - David responds "Spit and slide under". More classic one-liners on that show - "Does a duck duck? Does a bear bare?". I loved it. It was definitely my favorite show in the mid/late 80's. If you watched that show - you knew that Bruce Willis was gonna be big."




Aired: March 3, 1985 - May 14, 1989

Cast: Cybil Shepherd, Bruce Willis, Allyce Beasley, Curtis Armstrong

Network: ABC

Genre: Detective Dramedy

Theme songMoonlighting by Al Jarreau

Image courtesy of ABC

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