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Moonlighting - Season Four


TITLE: MOONLIGHTING - SEASON FOUR


Info:

DVD Release Date: September 12, 2006 (Lionsgate)
Color/1987-88
MSRP: $39.98
Number of Discs: 3
Number of Episodes: 14
Running Time: Approximately 600 Minutes
Running Time of Special Features: 193 minutes, 7 seconds --­ all commentary
Audio: Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo
Closed Captioned
Special Features:
Commentary on select episodes by creator Glenn Gordon Caron and stars Bruce Willis and Cybill Shepherd


Introduction:

Enjoyed Moonlighting so far? That’s great. Here’s where things start to get problematic. By the third season, the production crew was getting more and more behind schedule --­ despite a full production order, the staff only got FOURTEEN shows produced --­ hence the small number in this DVD set. In addition, this is the season when ratings begin to slide --­ in part due to the frequent reruns, but also due to Maddie and David sleeping together at the end of season three ­ the moment many feel the show “jump the shark” (IE: began its downward trend). In addition, due to Bruce’s growing movie career, his skiing accident, Cybill’s pregnancy…it just gets progressively more problematic. Then there’s Walter Bishop.

For the uninitiated --­ as I was when I started this review series --­ Moonlighting was a drama-comedy hybrid (a “dramedy”) take on the mass of detective series of that era. The show ran on ABC from 1985 for 1989, with a total of 66 episodes. The series revolved cases investigated by Maddie Hayes (Shepherd) and David Addison (Willis), the proprietors of Blue Moon Investigations. Hayes is a former model, who finds herself bankrupt after her accountant embezzles all of her liquid assets. She’s left only with a few failing businesses used as tax write-offs. One of these failed businesses is the agency, helmed by Addison. In the beginning of the show, he convinces her to help run the agency with him. The show also stared Allyce Beasley as Agnes DiPesto, the agency’s receptionist. By season 4, Curtis Armstrong had joined the cast as Herbert Viola. The series was noted both for its use of breaking the fourth wall, as well as its extensive use of fantasy sequences.


Memorable Episodes / Notable Guest Stars:

This is the fourth season --­ the one many felt caused the sharp decline in ratings. So you know, going in, this won’t be the best season to watch. That said, there *are* some gems here. These aren’t even necessarily storyline relevant episodes, these are just ones I think would be entertaining enough. The season starts out good enough --­ in “A Trip to the Moon”, Maddie questions her relationship with David, who has a little announcement. Maddie gets advice from Dr. Joyce Brothers, while David gets advice from…Ray Charles. In the next episode, “Come Back, Little Shiksa”, David is given $10,000 to find the woman who suddenly disappeared after just one night together. And then --­ and I know I said I’d focus on quality, but I’ve got to mention…we go into the rabbit hole with episode 3. . Maddie goes off and does whatever it is she’s doing, while David takes Viola along on a case regarding a missing fiancée. The show rebounds for “Father Knows Last”. Maddie’s father hints to David about taking some responsibility for Maddie’s unborn child. Meanwhile, let’s just say that the business isn’t going so well at the moment. I won’t even discuss the episodes that come after that, but there IS one more to mention…”Maddie Hayes Gets Married”. Walter. Bishop.

Guest stars include the aforementioned Dr. Joyce Brothers and Ray Charles, as well as Robert Webber, Eva Marie Saint, John Goodman, and Pat Boone.


Packaging:

Another shiny bit of Moonlighting packaging--this time, the shiny sky that’s the backdrop of the huge moon in front and center of the front cover is a reflective blue color --­ this goes really well with the pre-existing color choices for the sets. The moon again takes up a large portion of the front cover. David and Maddie stand posed --­ ironic, since they spent most of the season apart. Rear cover has the applicable show text in the top left, next to the barcode. Below that is the diminished features list. Below that is a strip of still images from the show, and on the bottom half of the rear cover is the skyline of the city. Opening the case reveals the front cover shot on the interior-left panel, but with the photo of David and Maddie replaced with a silhouette of them inside a reflective-white moon. Interior right panel has the skyline from the rear cover, with the buildings protruding out letting the booklet go there, like previous releases. Then there’s the discs. I don’t need a breakdown for this one. The disc art is almost entirely the same on all three discs ­ the only difference is that the star pattern on each disc spells out the disc number. All 3 discs use a blue skyline shot as the base. The show logo is at the top. Episodes 1-4 are on disc 1, 5-9 are on disc 2, and 10-14 are on disc 3.


Menu Design and Navigation:

The menu is like the first two releases’ menus. There is a star field that animates in, followed by the city, the options, and the moon. The options sit at the side, while clips play in the moon, and the slow instrumental version of the theme from the pilot plays. A small detail that initially missed my attention ­ stars shoot by in the background. The sky is dark blue, to match the box art. Episode selection causes the moon to go to the right side. A still image appears on the left, with the episode title, Play, and Play with Commentary options appear.


Video and Audio Quality:

The video is quite good. No, you can’t confuse this with video shot on nice wonderful HD cameras in 2006, but for video from 1987, it’s good. There’s a bit of dirt and grain ­, the colors are just about right, and the picture is neither too sharp nor too dull. There IS minor compression ­ why, I’m not sure. The video is about a peg lower than previously, but the video is still QUITE good. The audio seems a bit quiet, but when turned up a bit, everything is properly balanced, there’s no real hiss, and nothing seems distorted…it’s just quiet. There are chapter stops at the end of each scene. Set is closed captioned, but no subtitles, as before.

Runtimes
Disc 1:
A Trip to the Moon: 48:53
Come Back Little Shiksa: 49:10
Take a Left at the Altar: 48:38
Tale in Two Cities: 46:38

Disc 2:
Cool Hand Dave (I): 44:21
Cool Hand Dave (II): 44:33
Father Knows Last: 47:02
Los Dos DiPestos: 48:11
Fetal Attraction: 44:35

Disc 3:
Tracks of My Tears: 48:35
Eek! A Spouse!: 48:23
Maddie Hayes Got Married: 48:06
Here’s Living with You, Kid: 46:58
And the Flesh Was Made Word: 48:22


Special Features:

There is nothing but commentary for special features on this set. Here is a breakdown:

Disc 1:
A Trip to the Moon: Commentary by Glenn Gordon Caron & Bruce Willis. Until Glenn looked at this the other day, he hadn’t watched this season --­ or at least this part of the season ­ in 15 years. The Honeymooners spoof at the start is classic. They pretty much admit that the sending Maddie off to Chicago was more desperation. Bruce admits the first scene after the Honeymooners spoof is where the show really started to end. Glenn, however, still believes they had to get together ­-- and wanted them to anyway. 48:53

Come Back Little Shiksa: Commentary by Writers Jeff Reno & Ron Osborn and Director Allan Arkush. They just shut down production too many times for their own good. 49:10

Disc 3:
Maddie Hayes Got Married: Commentary by Cybill Shepherd & Writer/Producer Roger Director. Everyone misses Charles Rocket ­-- that’s been a recurring thing throughout the commentary. 48:06 Here’s Living with You, Kid: Commentary by Allyce Beasley and Curtis Armstrong. Curtis is Cybill Shepherd, and Allyce is Bruce Willis, and Mark Harmon is Curtis…yeah…it makes sense if you listen to the commentary. It’s fun hearing these two. Curtis admired Bogart, loved Casablanca. Relevant. 46:58

Total Features Runtime: 193 minutes, 7 seconds, all commentary.


Final Comments:

Well, this was the fourth season. There’s one more season left in the series ­ depending on your perspective, could be better, could be worse. There were highlights in the fourth season, but the show was definitely running on fumes at this point, due largely to Cybill and Bruce’s various things.

Technically, the set’s nicer than a lot of releases, but is definitely a step down from previous seasons. The features have been noticeably slashed, and the video looks a bit worse. For this final upcoming season’s release --­ season 5 --­ I’d go big. Throw everything you can onto the set, and make it worth people’s while. Promos, bloopers, deleted scenes, interviews with cast and crew, themed clip packages ­ there’s so much that could be done. I just urge Lionsgate to do it. I would NOT start with this season if you’re new with Moonlighting. That’s what the Season 1 and 2 combined release is for. This set’s really meant for the true Moonlighting fans. Recommended for purchase for fans ­ people on the fence with the show should probably get a different Moonlighting set (1/2 or 3) beforehand.


Final Numbers (out of 5 stars - How our point system works)

Video Quality: 4/5
Audio Quality: 4/5
Menu Design/Navigation: 5/5
Special Features: 2/5
Final Score: 4/5

-- Reviewed by Seth Thrasher on 09/29/06

To purchase the DVD, click below and help support SitcomsOnline.com:

http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ASIN/B000GEIRVY/ref=nosim/happydaysonline4-20

Questions or comments about this set? Post on our message board:

http://www.sitcomsonline.com/boards/showthread.php?t=184141


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