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Moonlighting - Seasons One and Two


TITLE: MOONLIGHTING - SEASONS ONE AND TWO


Info:

DVD Release Date: May 31, 2005 (Lions Gate Home Entertainment)
Color/1985-86
MSRP: $49.95
Number of Discs: 6
Number of Episodes: 23 (22 1-hour, 1 2-hour pilot)
Running Time: 1187 Minutes
Total Run Time of Special Features: approx. 305 minutes (including commentary)
Audio: English: 2.0 Dolby Stereo Sound
Closed Captioned
Special Features:
• Commentary tracks on various episodes featuring Bruce Willis, Cybill Shepherd and creator Glenn Caron, in addition to various crew members.
• Three themed featurettes:
o Not Just a Day Job – The Story of Moonlighting (Part 1)
o Inside the Blue Moon Detective Agency – The Story of Moonlighting (Part 2)
o The Moonlighting Phenomenon


Introduction:

Starring a then-unknown Bruce Willis and Cybill Shepherd, Moonlighting was one of the highest-rated shows on television during its run on ABC from 1985-89. As the recipient of six Emmy® Awards and two Golden Globe® Awards during its impressive run, this 1980s beloved television series is brought to you now just in time for its 20th anniversary!

Golden Globe®-Winner Cybill Shepherd stars as Maddie Hayes, a former high-fashion model who discovers one morning that her business manager has stolen all the money she has in the bank. However, it turns out that she still owns some non-liquid assets – money-losing companies that were maintained as tax write-offs. Planning to shut his detective agency down, Maddie meets with David Addison (Golden Globe® and Emmy® Award-Winner Bruce Willis), and a fast-talking private eye, who persuades her to keep his business open. Maddie becomes David’s new boss, and while their personalities clash, a sexual tension arises in the time they spend together. But the question always remains… will they or won’t they? The show also stars Allyce Beasley as the receptionist at the Blue Moon detective agency.


Memorable Episodes / Notable Guest Stars:

There are some real quality gem-caliber episodes here. The Pilot episode, originally aired as a TV movie in March 1985 is absolutely outstanding. Be on the lookout for a young Mary Hart, playing herself, when Maddie is leaving the police station. Also, ALF fans may be interested to know that Raquel Ochmonek (Liz Sheridan) in this episode – mainly in the first Maddie scene. The next episode sees Blue Moon gain there first client, Pat Corley (Phil on Murphy Brown), who plays a man looking for his “son” who is lured away by David while waiting at another detective office. There’s an amazing scene in the start of the episode between Pat’s character Franklin…and Brummer (played by Tim Robbins), who was sent to kill him. The season 2 premiere, “Brother, Can You Spare a Blonde?” features ex-SNL alum Charles Rocket (most famous for saying the f-word on-air during a live SNL broadcast) as David’s brother Richard – who is being chased by a drug dealer who wants money that Richard took from him.

The episode Money Talks, Maddie walks is good – there are no guest stars, but the plot is good. Maddie, after the near-suicide of a friend, learns where her embezzling accountant (the embezzlement being how Maddie wound up becoming a detective in the first place) has disappeared to. The very next episode is significant for a number of reasons, as discussed in the special features. Orson Welles starts off the episode with an introduction, explaining how most of the episode will be in black-and-white. As it turns out, Orson Welles died exactly one week after taping of this scene. There’s a tribute graphic at the very top of the episode, dedicating the episode to him. The episode finds Dave and Maddie dreaming up their solutions to a case from 1946 left unsolved. As fans had been writing in hounding them to do from day one, Dave and Maddie kiss in the episode – while in a dream. Barbara Bain of Mission Impossible and Space: 1999 fame appears in the next episode, My Fair David. Dana Delany appears in the next episode as Dave’s old girlfriend – who’s now asking for His and Maddie’s help regarding a bad marriage. Perfect Strangers fans should pay attention to the episode Atlas Belched – Mark Linn-Baker, just a few months before becoming Larry Appleton, guests.

Twas the Episode Before Christmas, the show’s first Christmas episode, is quite good – and has a couple of notable guest stars. A pre-Homicide/Law & Order Richard Belzer, who at the time was best known for his stand-up, guest stars alongside a pre-Fresh Prince James Avery In the episode, Ms. Dipesto finds a baby left in her apartment by a woman trying to escape from hit men…at the same time that Dave and Maddie are fighting about using the office phone system as a “Santa Hotline.” That is great stuff. The episode itself actually ends early, as the last few minutes is nothing but the cast, crew, and their families gathered on the soundstage singing “The First Noel”. Every Father’s Daughter is a Virgin is noteworthy if only for the introduction by Dave and Maddie, reading viewer letters, wanting to know if they’d ever kiss (within the context of an actual episode, rather than a dream The whole introduction is one of the somewhat rare “breaking the fourth wall” moments when actors, while IN character, acknowledge they’re in a TV show. Whoopi Goldberg, Judd Nelson, and a pre-Hogan Family Edie McClurg guest star in the awesome 2nd season finale, in which a woman (Whoopi) on the run from a crooked cop (Nelson) accidentally saves a senator’s life while running from the cop. These are just the HIGHLIGHTS; the other episodes are still great in their own right.


Packaging:

The box is rather unique. As opposed to going with a Digipak – which is what most studios use for releases this size, they’ve bound three double-sided disc holders to the spine of the box itself, creating a book-like package. The graphics of the box are done in a color-change reflective style – the box changes color depending on how light hits it. The back of the box is rather simple, featuring the standard David and Maddie appear in front of a moon above the skyline. As is revealed by opening the set, the moon in fact turns out to be another part of the packaging all together – it’s the first disc. There are six discs total. The first disc is home to the 2-hour pilot episode, as well as the first 2 regular episodes. Disc 2, keeping up the theme, features the moon on the left half of the disc, while there’s a shot of Maddie and David on the right half in purple. This disc holds episodes three through six. The third disc – holding episodes 7 through 10 - again features a moon on the left half, while the purple-hued photo on the right this time is a shot of Maddie. The fourth disc holds episodes 11-14 – the disc art being the same as disc three’s – except with David instead of Maddie. Episodes 15-19 are on the sixth disc, which features Agnes on the right half – though in a blue hue instead of the purple on 1-4. The final four shows are on the sixth disc, which has a face-shot of David and Maddie covering the entire moon, with only a white moon outline near the edges of the disc.


Moonlighting DVD Menu

Menu Design and Navigation:

Menus are excellently done, and are a marvel to behold – Lions Gate should be very proud of their work on them. The start of the first disc is a bit different from the other five. The beginning starts out with a clip from the bar scene in episode 2 where Bruce Willis’ character says “Long time no see! Hey, you remember me, right!” The menu then leads into a series of animations before settling on the main menu. In the main menu, various clips from the episodes on the discs play inside the moon on the left side of the screen, while the menu options are on the right side. The long version of the slow-paced music that was used as the opening theme on the pilot episode, as well as background music in various scenes, plays in the background on a loop with the clips. Episode selection menus, after an animated transition from the main menu (the animations exist on menu-out regardless of which option chose) feature small images and episode titles inside the moon taking up the left half of the screen. Main Menu is selectable in the bottom right corner. The episode title serves as the menu options for most episodes. Episodes with commentary tracks appear slightly differently. The episode title is no longer selectable on those episodes…Play Episode, and Play Episode with Commentary by [x], [y] and [z] are the selectable options.


Video and Audio Quality:

Video looks awesome for a show from 1985. The episodes were Digitally Audio sounds awesome. Amazon.com lists a 5.1 audio track, but I can’t find it. Even with a 2.0 setup though, the audio still sounds great. The awesome Al Jarreau theme is loud and crystal clear – fairly evenly mixed across both the left and right channels. Sound effects and music rarely overshadow the vocals, and the few times it does it was intended to DO that. Overall, the set sounds and looks great – the picture is sharp without appearing over-corrected. There’s minimal grain considering the age of the set, and when it occurs, it’s generally unobtrusive. Chapter stops are well-placed at each fade-to-black.


Special Features:

Numerous special features can be found on the set. Here’s a brief run down of the other features:

Commentary tracks – there is commentary on 5 episodes. Virtually everyone associated with the first two seasons does commentary at some point. Pilot: Commentary by: Creator/Writer Glenn Caron, Director Robert Butler, Editor Artie Mandelberg, and Producer Jay Daniel. Glenn reveals he’d turned down pilots called “Hill Street Station” (later Hill Street Blues) and “St. Elsewhere”. They reveal that Bruce Willis – in his first fight scene – was making sound effects every time he threw a punch. They also say that every director the series ever had was made to watch the pilot before they could start directing any episodes so they could get an accurate feel for the template set in the pilot. The episode runs 1:33:07, and they manage to fill it all with commentary – including over the 2:30-long closing credits sequence.

The Dream Sequence Always Rings Twice: Commentary by: Director Peter Werner, Creator/Writer Glenn Caron, and co-writer Debra Frank. Right off the top of the episode you learn something very interesting – the top of the episode features an introductory by Orson Welles, filmed only a week before his death (there’s a tribute graphic at the very beginning of the episode) – they even mention that the FULL soundstage could tell that Orson didn’t have long left. Also, they mention that ABC wanted them to film the black and white sequences in the episode in color, and then they’d down-convert to B&W, but the production team was insistent that it be shot in B&W. They also bring up the show’s Emmy nomination-to-win ratio for that year (16 nominations, 1 win for “best editing”). Episode runs an amazing 49 minutes and 33 seconds.

My Fair David: Commentary by Director Will Mackenzie, and also by Bruce Willis. One thing brought up is that they made Will re-shoot the opening scene due to their dissatisfaction with the original. Most of the commentary track on this episode is just Will and Bruce watching the episode, so there’s quite a bit of silence from them. Episode runs 50:10.

Twas the Episode Before Christmas: Commentary by Director Peter Werner, Producer Jay Daniel, as well as Allyce Beasley. They reveal that this episode only had three days between the wrapping of taping and the debut of the episode. They also reveal that the start date of taping on the pilot was delayed four times since the network wouldn’t sign off on Bruce Willis as David – they talk more about this in the first featurette. They also mention that Cybill was often insistent – particularly early on, that she be shot from the right side…which leads to the anecdote about showing her pictures from her right and left side – and every time they handed her a shot from her left, she said it looked worse…they’d flipped the film, and every “left shot” was actually a shot from her right. Anecdotes like this fill the 41 minutes.

Every Father’s Daughter is a Virgin: Commentary by: Glenn Caron and Cybill Shepherd. Glenn admits right at the top of the episode he hasn’t seen this episode in years and wanted to watch it – though ultimately Glenn and Cybill manage to fill the episode nicely. Glenn mentions that, usually, he’d have a last minute quick-add one-take scene that would be done right before the episode HAD to go to post (for example, the scene with David and Maddie in the office at the start of the show in this one). Glenn talks about how on Moonlighting, and on Medium, the sound guy each time says that the sounds overlap – and each and every time he has to tell the sound guy how to make them overlap. Cybill also brings up that the ONLY scenes she didn’t have a pair on tennis shoes on were when her feet were show. Many things worked into the 44 minutes, including even more comments about the pilot (since an hour and a half just isn’t enough).

Also on the set are three featurettes. Each feature takes a look at a different part of Moonlighting. In the first two features, the cast and crew talk about the show’s development, its pickup, plus backstage info on the show.

*Not Just a Day Job – The Story of Moonlighting (Part 1)
*Inside the Blue Moon Detective Agency – The Story of Moonlighting (Part 2)
*The Moonlighting Phenomenon

In the first featurette (14:48), they reveal that Moonlighting was the third of a series of three pilot orders ABC had commissioned from Glenn Caron. For this pilot, ABC told them that they wanted “a boy/girl detective show” – to “do what you want with it, but that’s what we want.” Also, due to the pacing of the show, the scripts usually were double the length of the normal one-hour shows.

The second featurette, Inside the Blue Moon Detective Agency, is a continuation of the above. It starts off with the crew talking about how they had a problem with the network trying to cut their expenses – Glenn goes so far as to call the network concept of “you get [x] amount for a 1 hour show” asinine. Some productions ran so behind schedule that some episodes only made the wild feeds beamed to affiliates (the signals sent to each ABC station with that night’s programs) by 30 minutes. As a result, they mention that they got away with a lot of stuff, particularly in the east-coast airings, that wouldn’t have otherwise made it past. They also spotlight that Bruce and Cybill both had a problem with being able to “drive” during an in-car scene due to getting caught up in the scene. They also mention that Cybill slammed the doors so hard they had to be rebuilt after every season. They talk about The Dream Sequence Always Rings Twice again – this time adding that the network was concerned about running an episode largely in black & white in 1985. They also talked about matching the music in post to match Bruce’ finger movements. This featurette runs 15:34.

The final featurette runs 11 minutes, and is more of a segment about the fan’s and crew’s enjoyment of the show. This segment isn’t really good for any behind-the-scenes information, but is enjoyable if for no other reason than to see fans commenting on the show in a professional DVD release – something rarely scene. The cast and crew thoughts are also great to hear.

Finally, on disc 1, there are various promos for the Moonlighting promo premiere. Each one runs 0:10, 0:15 or 0:30, for a grand total of 2:15. Some release information lists a gag reel – it’s not included in the set. Also, some release information cites deleted scenes; however, there is no deleted scenes option in the menus.


Final Comments:

Until I received this set, I’d never seen the show. I was still rather young when the show went off the air here, and as it happened, I’d never managed to catch any of the show in reruns. That being said, it’s a great show. The fast-paced dialogue between characters and sometimes-wackiness of Bruce Willis’ character are amazing, plus Maddie isn’t exactly hard on the eyes. For a “boy/girl detective show”, as it was referred to first by ABC executives when telling the creator of the show what they wanted, it’s quite good – it’s amazingly good, and doesn’t even come close to fitting the mold of other shows of it’s type, which is a VERY good thing.

The set itself is quite a wonder. I do have a couple of complaints. First is the absence of the promised gag reel. To the best of my knowledge, the copy I have is from the production run that will hit the store shelves, but the promised gag reel is nowhere to be found – though there are some bloopers in the first two featurettes. I was quite disappointed by this. Also, the cleaning up of the picture did leave a few bits of grain. However, when comparing the video quality in the pilot promos with that on the DVD itself, the difference is remarkable.

On another note, I often complain in my reviews when studios replace music in releases – the fans buying these sets REALLY loathe this practice. That being said, Lions Gate has my thanks for securing the rights to the complete audio soundtrack for the release. It’s GREATLY appreciated. However, while the songs are all there, there IS something I feel it’s my job to bring to your attention and I didn’t mention it before since I’m honestly, as of this writing, unsure of what the problem is . Something is odd about the episode runtimes. You may have noticed that the runtimes in some episodes run almost fifty minutes long, while others only run 40-41 minutes. It’s unknown, as of this writing, whether the short episodes are syndication prints, or whether the long episodes have had deleted scenes re-added (that would explain the deleted scenes mention in the original release info I have here), or some combination of both.

Update, 5/31: It's been revealed since this review that at least three episodes, maybe a few more, *are* syndication cuts and not the original prints. This being said, I'm honestly not surprised given Lions Gate's actions with previous sets (ALF, anyone?). Still, it's disappointing to know.

For the 3rd season set – Aside from maybe making sure the plastic snappers that hold the disc in its holder are less likely to break, I can’t think of anything significant that needs to be changed. The inclusion of a gag reel, and maybe a couple more commentary tracks, would be nice, but otherwise, the set’s great. Even if most other shows in the mold of, to quote the ABC executives mentioned in the commentary and featurettes, “a boy/girl detective show” aren’t your cup of tea, you’re going to love the show. The set itself is great, and the episodes are quite good across the board.


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

Video Quality: 5/5
Audio Quality: 5/5
Special Features: 5/5
Menu Navigation/Design: 5/5
Overall: 4.5/5

Seth Thrasher Seal of Approval

-- Reviewed by Seth Thrasher on 05/28/05 (updated 05/31/05)

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

http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ASIN/B0007XBMA2/ref=nosim/happydaysonline4-20


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