|Moonlighting: Season Three (1989)
Starring: Bruce Willis, Cybill Shepherd, Allyce Beasley, Curtis Armstrong, and Mark Harmon
Sometimes, it’s easy to forget that Bruce Willis used to be a TV star...although if he continues his trend of releasing movies that make it into and out of theaters in just a few weeks time, he’s liable to be one again pretty soon. But, indeed, he remains a movie star for the moment, and what started him on his merry way was the buzz he created when he played alongside Cybill Shepherd in “Moonlighting,” the third season of which has been released by Anchor Bay.
“Moonlighting’s” third season was arguably the best of the show’s run, even if it was a short one (only 15 episodes), and it was certainly the most creative. “Big Man on Mulberry Street” includes an extended dance number that’s choreographed to the Billy Joel song of the same name, “It’s a Wonderful Job” is the obligatory Christmas episode where Maddy Hayes (Shepherd) finds out what her life would’ve been like if she had sold the Blue Moon Detective Agency, and the cast takes on “The Taming of the Shrew” in “Atomic Shakespeare,” which is really done in iambic pentameter. There are clever cameos during the season, including Pierce Brosnan as Remington Steele and Lionel Stander, reprising his role as Max, from “Hart to Hart.” Other guest stars during the season included Gary Cole, Donna Dixon, Cheryl Tiegs, and Paul Sorvino, playing Willis’s father. Even what would normally be a snoozeworthy clip show (“The Straight Poop”) is turned on its head thanks to its framing device: gossip reporter Rona Barrett interviewing Maddy and her partner, David Addison (Willis), about the reason for the extended delay between new episodes of “Moonlighting.” Yes, the third wall is broken on a regular basis during this season, usually by David; in one scene, where he and Maddy encounter two pairs of visitors, each claming to be FBI agents, he observes, “Either somebody’s lying, or the writers just Xeroxed the other scene.”
As far as the special features on the set, there are audio commentaries from the stars as well as writers, directors, and producers on the show…but the most interesting one is a fan commentary, done for “The Straight Poop.” The four contributors were all major players in the campaign to get “Moonlighting” released on the DVD, and this was a really sweet gesture by the producers to pay them back for their hard work. Additionally on the set, “Memories of ‘Moonlighting’” is a fabulous half-hour documentary which includes new interviews with all of the members of the cast, including Willis, Shepherd, and Allyce Beasley (Ms. DiPesto), as well as 3rd season addition Curtis Armstrong, who played Herbert Viola. Even Mark Harmon pops up, chatting about his role as Maddie Hayes’s love interest, Sam Crawford, and there are observations from the behind-the-scenes players as well, including creator Glenn Gordon Caron, who reveals that the “Taming of the Shrew” was actually the lowest rated episode in the history of the show. Willis, however, offers the funniest comment when he reveals that, as a result of Shepherd getting pregnant that season, he ended up with enough time off to film the first “Die Hard” movie, which really kick-started his movie career. “So, honey,” he says to Shepherd, putting his hand on her knee, “thanks for having sex!” (The documentary, by the way, is dedicated to the memory of Charles Rocket, who played David Addison’s brother on the show.)
As noted, this is way too short a season, but, thankfully, the quality more than makes up for the quantity.