Maddie Hayes & David Addison
Created by Glenn Caron
Maddie: Wipe that stupid grin off your face.
Moonlighting is the one we now officially claim to hate, but once upon a time, it sure was fun. This is the television series that brought screwball romantic comedy and high-speed banter back into fashion and made Bruce Willis a star. If only we'd known what a monster we were creating...
In the sassy, spunky pilot, Cybill Shepherd played MADDIE HAYES, a fabulously successful (natch!) model forced to liquidate after her business manager skips town with most of her assets. The Blue Moon Detective Agency, originally purchased as a tax dodge, and run by DAVID ADDISON (Willis) is one of her doomed properties, but an unexpected mystery throws owner and employee together and a classic love-hate relationship blooms.
That may have also been the last episode where the mystery actually had much of anything to do with the plot. The "mystery" angle forever after was really just an excuse to throw Maddie and David at each other, and let the sparks fly. And to the show's credit, the sparks did indeed fly. Maddie was prim and proper, a good girl with very pre-set notions on almost everything, a tightly-wound prima donna intent on remaking the world in her image. But where Maddie was tightly-wound, David was just, frequently, hilariously tight. And unshaven and unwashed. A fast-talkin' scam artist, a laidback lout, a rock'n'roll party boy with all the morals of an alleycat, one of the highlights of the early shows was the episode where Maddie comes into her office one morning only to find David inexplicably hanging from the back of her door, still drunk from the night before, warbling Aretha Frankin tunes.
The show was a huge hit, and at least at first deservedly so -- a clever, updated spin on Hammett's Nick and Nora, slyly switching all the Prohibition-era talk about booze into AIDS-era double-entendre-laden ripostes on sex. The public loved it. There were spin-off record deals and hype up the wazoo, Shepherd was rescued from obscurity, and unknown Bruce Willis became a star. The critics loved it, too, praising its wit and inventiveness.
Unfortunately, Shepherd, Willis, the producers and writers also read the reviews, and started to believe their own press. They ended up loving themselves. What had started as a often-hilarious spin on everything else, became a self-referential ode to itself, a masturbatory orgy of self-love. Originality became just another gimmick, to be played solely for its own sake, while egos spun helplessly, hopelessly out of control, and what had been a great diversion became increasingly nauseating to actually watch. By the time the show finally crashed landed under the weight of all those egos and pretensions, Shepherd and Willis were showbiz names to reckon with, and everyone else was left with a bad taste in their mouths.
Still, the show had, and has a lot of dedicated fans. There was, until a 2002 campaign to get the series released on DVD (they finally started releasing them on DVD in May 2005) and even a renunion campaign that as far as I know is still going strong. Here's a bit from their "mission statement" of the reunion campaign:
And some people think I have no life....
Since the show, Willis and Shepherd have gone on to occasionally play other private eyes, but fortunately, not together. Shepherd actually appeared in a pilot about LA P.I. Sam Weathers, and Willis has played various cops and other law enforcement offices in a string of action flicks, including the Die Hard series and The Last Boy Scout, where he played private eye Joe Hallenbeck, a pumped-up, sociopathic version of his David Addison character.
Report respectfully submitted by Kevin Burton Smith.
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