Moonlighting - Seasons 1 & 2 is what I like to call an inspired box set. Finally, we are getting a one that isn’t getting the “treatment” just because it is a fantasy/sci-fi DVD. I am not trying to cause problems, but it seems like those are the box sets that get all the best extras. With Moonlighting - Seasons 1 & 2 , we get a 6 disk set that takes place in the present day and while not packed with extras, it has just the right amount to make fans of this show very happy. After all, who doesn’t enjoy seeing the chemistry between Cybill Shepherd and Bruce Willis unspool in each episode. Who does not enjoy seeing the regal, blue blood Shepherd chew the scenery while Bruce Willis goes out of his way to be a smart ass with brains. Watching these two people work together, it is like having an acting school in a box set.
In a nutshell, this is show is about two people being partners at the Blue Moon Detective Agency. Within that we get to examine the aforementioned Shepherd/Willis relationship as it plays out through the trouble that they get into. With 23 episodes (24 if you consider the pilot), we get to see all the fun and games these characters can handle. The writing for this show is so good, the plots so interesting that it isn’t any wonder why the actors seem to be having the fun they are. Each one of these episodes is a performance piece. A showcase. A way for the actors to strut their stuff while adding depth and a wholeness to their roles. I also love how watching the “Pilot” episode, I didn’t feel like I was watching the first offering of this show. The tone and feel obviously changes throughout the episodes, but it just seems like from the very beginning the creators and performers knew they had something.
Moonlighting wasn’t a show that I ever really watched when it was originally on. Although, for as long as I can remember I have been a fan of Bruce Willis. It is so nice to see him in this show acting again. Not that he doesn’t act now, but he’s Bruce Willis now. He’s guarded. He can’t be as spontaneous and fun as he was on this show or in movies like Blind Date. This show is just a lot of fun. A good time. A way to relax and be stimulated as we watch the plots and sexual tension unfold.
The Story of Moonlighting ese are two very well done, highly in-depth looks at what went into creating seasons 1 and 2 of this show. We get to see interviews with the cast and crew (yes, that does include Bruce and Cybill), but I felt that I was watching a much more interesting “making of” piece then what we usually get. This is the kind of thing you could imagine being on “TV LAND” or something. It is just nice to hear the stories and the “behind the scenes” goings on of how the shows creators kept on having to standup to the network to get what they wanted. TV is such an interesting and surreal place to work it seems, and I feel that both parts of this show capture not only the spirit of the the show but the spirit of the TV environment as well.
The Moonlighting Phenomenon
This cool little piece talks about how the show was so much a product of it’s time, yet the writing and performances are so well done, that it makes Moonlighting itself almost timeless. We get to hear from the creators as well as fans of the show about the effect that it had on them. How this show came out of the conservative 1980s and was able to subvert all of the cultural mores and ideas of the time, while not really calling attention to the fact that it was doing that. They really seem to have gone the extra mile with the supplemental materials on these DVDs. No stone has been left unturned in the DVDs creators attempts to help illuminate more about this show.
Select Episode Commentaries
These commentary tracks feature the shows creator Glenn Gordon Caron, Cybill Shepherd, Bruce Willis and others (like directors of certain episodes, etc.). I love “TV on DVD” commentaries more then commentary tracks for regular movies, simply because there just seem to be better stories. There seem to be so many more examples of studio executives feeling one way about the material, the actors and the shows creators feel another, and it is through this infighting that the material gets elevated and many times becomes better it seems. Bruce Willis just seems to be having a good time, telling stories and reminiscing about his past, present and the show that made him.
Full Frame Format. Starting in 1985 I wasn’t really expecting the 20 hours of episodes to be in widescreen. In fact, I don’t think any TV shows from the 1980s were in that format but I might be wrong, right? These shows all seem to follow the typical mystery show format. A murder happens and then the two leads of the show invariably get involved for one reason or another and then they solve the crime. Okay, it doesn’t always work out this way but I think you get my point. These shows look great. I am not sure what they shoot TV shows on nowadays, but everything looks too stylized. The look of all the episodes in Moonlighting - Seasons 1 & 2 is straightforward and simple. I am assuming that these episodes were shot on film, but they aren’t cut like how shows are today. The characters get a chance to really be on the screen. We get to feel and sense their presence. There just seems like there was more time with these shows. The plots may not have gotten going until sometime past the halfway mark. There wasn’t a need to inundate people with information. Personally, I find the older shows like Moonlighting easier to watch.
Dolby Digital. As this show is heavily dialogue driven the sound has to be good but that is about it. Music and effects and all that other jazz are secondary. This again points to my belief that shows from the past were really much more concerned with the actor’s performances. There is a free wheeling intensity to this show. Sure, it is mainly given to us by Bruce Willis but he can’t act alone and this is where Cybill Shepherd makes the perfect foil. I was able to set the levels on my TV to about the middle portion of the screen I didn’t have to touch them after that. As a viewer I was able to hear all of the characters jokes, asides and regular dialogue that advanced the plot. It is so nice to hear good writing being delivered by such good actors. In fact, it seemed like entire shows were just dialogue pieces with very little effects or music. As a result the pacing of this show moved very solidly. I never felt jolted out of my viewing experience by unnecessary music or sounds.
The packaging features Willis and Shepherd on the front cover looking as though they are about to get married. They are framed by a purple cover, the lights of the city, with the shape around them to be that of, what else, a moon. This six disks that make up this set make it look like a detective novel. Each disk features a half-moon and pictures of the main character’s from the show. Inside, there is also a listing all of the shows episodes and the extras that these disks have to offer. The back cover has a description of the show, the extras, a small credit list and some technical information. This is a thickly designed box set but it’s very easy to negotiate. I found that taking the disks out was a lot easier then I thought it would be. The cover is also heavy duty plastic which will make people who want to preserve their DVDs, quite happy. My only gripe is that the index doesn’t tell us what disks the extras are on but a little work can help figure that out.
Moonlighting - Seasons 1 & 2 is a must own for fan’s of 1980s TV. Truthfully, I think it is a must own for anybody who likes TV at all. I say this because I don’t remember there being too many character’s on TV like the one that Bruce Willis created. I am sure that there were, but he just seemed invincible. Nothing bad was ever going to happen to him, no matter how far he pushed it but that didn’t detract from the show at all. You still believed the situations that David and Maddie got themselves into. You rooted for them and in a certain way you didn’t want them to get together. You didn’t want to see their relationship blossom because they would have been terrible together. They would have probably killed each other. As working partners there were so many more areas for them to go, so many more interesting avenues, that I am glad this show stayed true to itself.
So buy Moonlighting - Seasons 1 & 2. Watch the episodes, enjoy them, revel in them and at the end of the day put them somewhere prominent in your ever growing DVD collection.