For mystery lovers of the ’80s, the private detective duo of Maddie and David was one of our faves: Moonlighting.
Created by well-known tv producer Glenn Gordon Caron, Moonlighting starred Cybill Shepherd as Madeleine “Maddie” Hayes, a former model who was swindled by her former accountant and now uses her notoreity to attract clients to the agency she owned.
Her co-star is Bruce Willis as David Addison Jr., who owns the City of Angels Detective Agency, and convinces Maddie to become partners in the newly launched Blue Moon Detective Agency.
Caron was inspired by watching Shakespeare’s Taming of the Shrew, wanting to create characters who were comedic and had sexual tension between the two of them. He had to lobby for Willis, as the network wasn’t convinced that there would be tension between him and Shepherd.
ABC TV wanted a detective show, and liked Caron’s work on Remington Steele and Taxi.
Their sidekick was Agnes diPesto played by Alyce Beasley, the office secretary who answers the phone in rhymes and keeps the two informed on what’s going on with their clients and cases.
Debuting in March 1985, the ABC TV series was unique in its combination of drama and comedy, using snappy dialogue exchanges that were reminiscent of screwball comedy films of past and at times had the characters break the fourth wall by asking the audience direct questions.
In the second season, the producers introduced parallel storylines, unravelling a mystery from the ’40s in black and white along with the detectives trying to figure out what happened 40 years later. The episode was introduced by Orson Welles.
The show also did a parody/fantasy episode dedicated to the Taming of the Shrew, and had several guests stars, including Pierce Brosnan as Remington Steele and well-known actors such as C. Thomas Howell, Demi Moore, Dr. Joyce Brothers, Cheryl Tiegs, Peter Bogdonavich and Whoopi Goldberg.
The series was nominated for a Best Drama and Best Comedy Emmy after its first season, and nominated again after its second season, with 16 nominations in 1986. Moonlighting became the talk of entertainment world, and the duo graced the cover of Newsweek Magazine.
As the audience grew, so did the fascination with the sexual tension between the two characters. In season 3, the episode I am Curious was when the characters consumated their love.
But problems affected the production – Cybill Shepherd became pregnant and Bruce Willis broke his clavicle while skiing, which delayed production and even caused the network to show tv commercials of ABC executives impatiently waiting for new episodes.
Season four had very little screen time with both lead characters, and tensions on set contributed to problems as the series tried to move forward. The series went into hiatus due to the writers strike, but when it returned after six episodes, it was cancelled at the end of season five due to poor ratings.
But in its heyday, this show was must-watch television and refreshed the typical detective show with its humour, silliness and snappy dialogue of Maddie and David.