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The Pilot

Seeing the pilot movie for MOONLIGHTING ($25) made me realize just how much I have missed this wonderful television series. MOONLIGHTING is probably one of the best television series of the 1980ís and proved to be something of a cultural phenomenon during its 1985-1989 run. Fans watched MOONLIGHTING religiously and the show was always the hot topic of conversation on the following day. That is, whenever a new episode of the show actually aired. You see the thing that made MOONLIGHTING such a good show was also the thing that made it a difficult show to produce. MOONLIGHTING was so well written and so packed full of intelligent, witty dialogue that the production of each episode ran days beyond the schedule of any other hour-long show on television.

One of my favorite little remembrances of the show is that the characters would actually acknowledge the lateness of episodes in clever little "asides" to the audience. MOONLIGHTING was also the show that gave birth to the career of Bruce Willis and brought Cybill Shepherd back into the spotlight. The pilot TV movie for MOONLIGHTING introduced the characters of Madelyn "Maddie" Hayes (Shepherd) and David Addison (Willis), which set up the situation for the television series that was set at the Blue Moon detective agency. As the pilot opens, Maddie Hayes, former model and TV spokesperson Blue Moon shampoo, finds herself virtually broke after being fleeced by her business manager. Hoping to turn her few remaining non-liquid assets into cash, Maddie visits the City of Angels detective agency to inform the man that runs the company, David Addison, that she will be shutting down the business.

Of course, David isnít willing to let things go just like that and tries to find some way to save the agency from oblivion. Just as David is making another pitch to her in a restaurant, a man with a Mohawk places a watch on Maddieís wrist- then dies at their feet from a knife in the back. With the publicity generated by the incident, David takes advantage of the media attention to announce to the press that his detective agency will solve the crime with the aid of company owner Maddie Hayes. Maddie doesnít like being outmaneuvered by David, but the two are soon forced into a bickering partnership to solve to crime, after certain lethal individuals make inquiries about the mysterious wristwatch. While the pilot for MOONLIGHTING has yet to develop the fine-tuned rhythm of the later TV episodes, it remains a highly enjoyable comic mystery. The cast of MOONLIGHTING also features Allyce Beasley, Robert Ellenstein, Jim McKrell, James Karen, Rebecca Stanley, Dennis Lipscomb, Frederick Coffin, Mary Hart, Henry G. Sanders, Liz Sheridan, Dennis Stewart and Brian Thompson.

Anchor Bay Entertainment has done a pretty good job with the DVD edition of the MOONLIGHTING pilot. MOONLIGHTING as if it has been given a brand new full screen transfer from an original film source. While somewhat dark, image quality is rather impressive for a TV pilot from 1985. Everything appears sharp and well defined. Colors offer respectable saturation and flesh tone always look realistic. None of the stronger hues bleed beyond their boundaries, nor are the colors distorted in any way. Blacks are fairly accurate, but the contrast renders things a bit flat looking at times. But then again, television cinematography is somewhat limited, when compared to the movies. There are no overwhelming problems with digital compression artifacts on this DVD.

The Dolby Digital soundtrack is high quality television monaural. Dialogue is crisp, clean and intelligible, while the music is reproduced without any distortion.

The interactive menus are very nicely designed and contain animation as well as music. Through the menus one can access the standard scene selection feature with full motion previews, as well as the DVDís supplements. Bruce Willis and series creator Glenn Gordon Caron provide a running commentary for the pilot movie. The commentary runs out of gas during the second half of the movie, leaving a lot of dead air. However, it is worth listening to all the choice bits of information provided at the beginning of their talk. Also included on the DVD is Bruce Willisí screen test for MOONLIGHTING, as well as a screen test of another actor- the one that the network wanted for the role of David Addison.

This DVD is something that every MOONLIGHTING fan will want to own. Anchor Bay Entertainment is supposedly working on releasing other episodes from the series on DVD. Letís hope that it comes to pass and that fans will be able to enjoy the entire series on little digital discs.




DVD reviews are Copyright © 2000 THE CINEMA LASER and may not be copied or reprinted without the written consent of the publisher.
THE CINEMA LASER is written, edited and published by Derek M. Germano.



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