By Steve Vivona
I was a huge fan of the television series "Moonlighting" when it aired on ABC from 1985-1989, so when Anchor Bay announced they were producing a DVD special edition of the pilot episode I was thrilled to say the least.
As usual my heroes over at AB went the extra mile with this release by including a great commentary from series creator Glenn Gordon Caron and star Bruce Willis, as well as the screen test that won Willis the role of David Addison (as well as that of another actor who didn't make the cut).
The plot is simple (plots were never an essential element to "Moonlighting's" success). Supermodel Madeline Hayes (Cybill Shepherd) wakes up one day to realize that her business manager has embezzled her fortune leaving her virtually penniless.
In order to remain solvent Maddie must close a number of money-losing corporations she formed as tax write-offs. One such corporation is the Blue Moon Detective Agency. Blue Moon is helmed by fast-talking, wise-cracking David Addison (Willis), who immediately attracts Maddie's ire when he mistakes her for a centerfold.
It's apparent from the start that the two are oil and water. David is floored when Maddie hands him the pink slip thereby ending his free ride. David proceeds to pester Maddie wherever she goes and tries to convince her that with one big case he can prove the agency's value.
One falls right into their laps when a mysterious man with a wristwatch dies right in front of them in a restaurant. David convinces Maddie to take the case and the pair begin their love-hate partnership.
"Moonlighting" succeeded on the strength of the chemistry between Willis and Shepherd. Their well-written banter was reminiscent of the best Katherine Hepburn-Cary Grant comedies, only updated for an eighties audience.
The show catapulted Willis to stardom and revitalized Shepherd's career. It also pushed the envelope of television comedy by having its stars break "the fourth wall" and talk to the audience.
Anchor Bay's DVD presentation is flawless. The pilot looks better than it probably ever did on television, with strong colors and a sharp image that is free from grain.
Having seen the pilot so many times I rushed right to the commentary. It's great hearing these two old friends reminisce about their experiences and it's obvious they still have a great affection for the show. Their remarks are often very candid. For instance Caron admits he advised Willis against doing his mega-hit "Die Hard."
The screen tests are the icing on the cake for this great package. From those it's obvious that Willis was the obvious choice (commentary is provided over those as well).
Anchor Bay has announced plans for further episodes of "Moonlighting" on VHS and DVD. I for one can't wait.