Tuesday, June 3, 2014


Kerry Hammond gets in the way back machine with the button set for the 1980s and Moonlighting...Do bears bear? Do bees be? 

I recently became nostalgic for 1980s TV shows, you know the ones – where there are private investigators and amateur sleuths instead of police officers and crime scene techs. I recently watched Remington Steele from start to finish, devouring all of the zany episodes and wacky cases, and enjoying the side romance between Laura Holt and Remington Steele.

My next trip down memory lane was another PI firm in LA. You guessed it, Moonlighting. Moonlighting aired on ABC from 1985-89 and consisted of 66 episodes. It was definitely heavier on the humor than on the private investigation, but no less entertaining. The two detectives often stood in a room and accused everyone there of the crime, only to have the guilty party be the last one they chose. Other times they just stumbled into a room where the criminal was holding a gun on someone, thereby unmasking the guilty party.

Maddie Hayes, played by Cybil Shepherd, is the former Blue Moon Shampoo girl and model. She wakes one morning to find that her accountant has run off with all her liquid assets. Her lawyer suggests she start visiting some of her other investments, namely companies she owns and has used as tax write-offs when they lost money.  He suggests she close these companies, basically get what she can from them and get out.

Maddie eventually ends up at a private detective agency run by David Addison, played by Bruce Willis. What she sees is a bunch of underworked employees lounging around and playing cards. David begs her to keep the firm in business, claiming that they were only running at a loss because they were supposed to. He insists that new clients are going to show up any minute. He plays on her sympathy for putting all of the employees out of work, but what seems to really resonate with her is that she needs something to do. She no longer has a successful modeling career and needs a focus as much as they need jobs. David renames the agency, and the former City of Angels Detective Agency becomes Blue Moon Investigations. 

Business is slow at first, and David even poaches clients from other agencies just to bring people through the door. But the adventures keep coming, even if they don’t all bring along a payout, and the witty banter between the two stars gets better and better as the seasons continue. Anyone who remembers the show will smile when they think of Agnes DiPesto, played by Allyce Beasley. She was the receptionist at Blue Moon and always answered the phone in rhyme. Often these rhymes were several minutes long and the caller gave up before ever getting to speak to anyone. No wonder they couldn’t get clients!

The show has often been credited with being one of the first successful “dramedies,” a mix of comedy and drama. It was also one of the early shows to try certain script/camera techniques. David would frequently make mention that things couldn’t be done because the “network” wouldn’t air it. He would sometimes turn to the camera and give the watchers a knowing look. Several episodes opened with the two stars talking to the camera, in character as Maddie and David, about the episode. And at the end of their first Christmas episode, the camera follows the stars off the set and pans out so that the audience sees everyone behind the scenes, all singing a Christmas tune.

One of my favorite episodes is called “The Dream Sequence Always Rings Twice.” Maddie and David argue about the details of a crime that took place in 1940 and each of them dream about it later that night. Both dreams are shown in black and white and Maddie and David play the key characters in the 1940s crime (see photo above). Cybil Shepherd even sings a wonderful version of the song I Told Ya I Love Ya, Now Get Out! and Blue Moon.

A quirky tidbit: the show mocked it’s similarity to NBC’s Remington Steele and had Pierce Brosnan in one episode in a cameo as Mr. Steele. They also paid homage to Shakespeare in “Atomic Shakespeare” by doing a parody of The Taming of the Shrew. Guest stars were numerous throughout the show’s run, and included Mark Harmon, Orson Welles, Tim Robbins, Whoopi Goldberg, Judd Nelson, and Demi Moore – just to name a few.

I haven’t decided where to stop next on my quest, but I am leaning toward Cabot Cove, Maine.


  1. I definitely need to watch this one. :) Sounds like a great show. I love older mystery shows.

  2. Now I need to watch some of these episodes. I also loves Remington and don't forget Simon and Simon.