Moonlighting Monday: Episode Countdown

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As March comes to a close, so does our tribute to the best show from the 80’s: Moonlighting.  I asked all the Moonies out in internet land to send me their top 10 list of episodes.  They responded faster than Herbert Viola heading for a fresh cup of coffee.  I complied the list and count them down below.  I discuss the top 10 episodes and list the remaining 5 episodes just for your information.  Over 30 different episodes were voted for.  That means that everyone loves almost half of the episodes. The votes were really spread around all but the top 2 episodes.  They not only had the highest vote total, but also made the most lists being voted on by over half of the entries.  I agree with most of the list, even if it isn’t quite what I would have picked for me.  That is what made the list so much fun for me, to see what you guys think.  Here is your top list of Moonlighting episodes.

1. Maddie’s Turn To Cry

The episode that fans like the best is the one where Maddie finally admits her feelings.  The triangle of Dave, Maddie and Sam is one for the ages.  Here is a lesson to TV producers of today, don’t let a triangle last for a season, this happens in 4 episodes and moves are characters in a major way.  This episode has it all: Emotion, a kiss and a great chase scene.  No use crying over split milk…

2. The Dream Sequence Always Rings Twice

moonThe second best episode, according to the Red Room Followers, has two sides.  Maddie’s version and Dave’s version.  If that doesn’t sum up the show, nothing can.  This black and white episode was an amazing idea back in the 80’s.  It has more jokes in it than an episode of The Simpsons, but it is remembered as being the first time we see the character’s kiss, even if it is just a dream.

3. Witness for the Execution

This is the first time they REALLY kiss.  A good bye kiss for the ages.  Here we take a great case and the sparks fly as Dave is framed for murder.  I am not surprised by this entry.  I remember being so excited the first time I watched this back when it aired.  Great pick.

4. The Son Also Rises

The writers always knew how to end and open a season on Moonlighting.  It is fun to see the characters come back from “summer vacation.”  But the fun doesn’t last long when Dave’s father comes to town with a new love interest.  This episode gave Bruce Willis a chance to show off his acting chops.  If you forget the twist at the end of the episode, I won’t spoil it here.  But its the kind of choice the writers made that is the exact reason we still love this episode.

5. I am Curious…Maddie

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You may remember Be My Baby as the song from Dirty Dancing.  But Moonlighting fans remember it from this episode.  They finally consummate their relationship.  There are no rose’s here.  There are no happy words of love.  That is for other couples.  Dave and Maddie finally do it in the only way they could…with lots of broken objects and a classic 60’s pop song playing.

6. Atomic Shakespeare

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Creativity on this show was a norm; the Shakespeare episode takes it to a new height.  At the time it was a the most expensive hour of TV ever produced.  It was worth it.  Whenever they could put the characters we love in an outside situation the show soared.  I have seen this episode a million times and I still pick up on subtle jokes that are in here.

7. A Womb With A View

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My favorite episode came in kinda low, but that is OK.  It at least made the list.  The music, the acting, the story.  This is not a normal episode, but the sentiment in it is beautiful…and sad.  Isn’t that the show?  You may disagree with the way the episode ends but it was truly best for the show.

8. Atlas Belched

Would anyone understand what a rolodex is anymore?  I suppose they should play this episode with a disclaimer that losing your boss’s rolodex is like losing his iPhone.  This episode has a great Dave and Maddie fight and the best line ever:  To the dump.  To the Dump, To the Dump, Dump, Dump.

9. My Fair David

Limbo

I have to say, I am surprised this episode doesn’t rank a bit higher.  The Limbo scene is one of the show’s most memorable scenes.  The idea that Maddie would want Dave to change and then be sad when he does is a great story.  Part of what makes them work as a couple is the fact that they want each other to change but wouldn’t love each other if they did.  Bonus points for the line: “You De-Daved Him.”  We love you, Ms. Dipesto.

10. Symphony In Knocked Flat

Dave and Maddie go on a date.  Why would they think this would go well?  There is nothing more fun and heart breaking than watching Dave try to give Maddie what she wants.  What I remember the most about this episode is that it annoyed my father when this episode ends with a super silly scene.  It was exactly what I loved about the show.  There was enough serious detective shows on, let’s have a little fun and who cares how the case turns out?

That is the top 10.  I like the list (would have liked to see Big Man make the list but it is on the remaining 5)  Here is the rest of the top 15, all great episodes:

11. The Pilot

12. Maddie Hayes Got Married

13. Big Man On Mulberry St

14. To Heiress Human

15. Blond On Blonde

Thanks for another Moonlighting Monday.  I am hoping to be able to do the interview with Glen in early April and post it soon after.

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Moonlighting Mondays: Music Edition

Where there is Bruce and Cybill there is singing.  Some of my favorite scenes in Moonlighting involved them singing.  Whether it is Cybill singing big band tunes in The Dream Sequence Always Rings Twice or Bruce belting out Good Lovin’ in Atomic Shakespeare, there was always a tune playing on the show.  The soundtrack album has some of the songs that played and is a great remembrance of the show.

I am glad this record has the songs that the actor’s sang, but I wish it had some of the other songs from the show.  The fact that it is missing Big Man On Mulberry Street is a shame, but maybe Billy Joel wouldn’t give it up.  This could be a question that I ask Glenn Caron when I interview him in early April.  I will be posting the list of top 10 episodes voted on by you, but was going to give a little more time for people to post them to our Facebook page.

So here is a bit of music that you may not know about.  Everyone knows about Bruce’s 80’s Album, Return to Bruno.  But did you know about the 1974 Cybill Shepherd album?  I recently bought this used record at a vintage shop.  (I already have my original Vinyl Moonlighting soundtrack that I bought with my Arby’s paycheck back in high school.)  Cybill recorded a Cole Porter tribute executive produced by Peter Bogdanovich.

IMG_0779Her voice is amazing.  She has a ton of vocal control and delivers the lyrics of Porter with no problem.  The music is great and it sounds like a throw back to the 20’s.  A few of the arrangements really remind me of the music that Barbra Streisand was recording in the early 70’s.  The connections to Moonlighting are interesting.  First of all Cybill sings Brush Up Your Shakespeare from Kiss Me Kate, which is of course what Atomic Shakespeare is based on.  They even re-wrote the lyrics to fit Cybill.  Another connection is  the fact that the show did Another Opening in my favorite episode, Womb With A View, which is a Porter song.  It also has a tribute in the linear notes written by Orson Welles, who of course intro’s Dream Sequence.  Bogdanovich who also appeared in the Straight Poop is on the album dueting with Cybill.

IMG_0781The other cool thing was that the copy I found also came with a full sized poster of Cybill.  She looked amazing and this will be hung up with pride in my computer room.   If you can track down a copy, I think Moonlighting fans will love it.  Thanks for joining me on #MoonlightingMondays.  Next Monday I will post the combined top 10 list, so post your list at our Facebook page.

IMG_0782Check out Last week’s Blog about Moonlighting

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Moonlighting Mondays In March

Blog moonThe Red Room goes Blue Moon.  I have decided Monday’s in the month of March will be all about Moonlighting.  I have recently confirmed with Glenn Gordon Caron, the creator and writer of Moonlighting, that he will come on the Red Room Podcast for a chat about the best show of the 80’s: Moonlighting.

I actually watched the pilot of Moonlighting when it aired, well to be exact, I watched it on Betamax (ask your parents what that means) the next day.  For the next five seasons America watched as David Addison (Bruce Willis) and Maddie Hayes (Cybil Sheperd) fell in and out of Hate, Love, Lust and Sex.  Maddie was rich and beautiful, an atheist who didn’t like nonsense of any kid.  Dave was poor and beautiful, a romantic who didn’t like responsibility of any kind.  All was about to change for both of them as they collided in the pilot episode.  It aired 30 years ago this month.

So I am asking fans out there to please rank your top 10 episodes of Moonlighting and post it on our Facebook page here.  Next Monday I am going to release the combined list of all the fans.

For this Monday I refer you to a couple of Blogs I have done over the years.

Here I made mp3 covers for a couple of the songs that aired on the show, and some that were never released.

Here I discuss my thoughts on the first two seasons.

Here I discuss the so-called Moonlighting Curse (I don’t subscribe to the curse theory and will be discussing this with Mr. Caron.)

Here Josh and I discuss the creativity of Moonlighting on our Podcast on the show.

If you have not watched Moonlighting ever or not since the 80’s.  Here is a link to purchase the first two seasons.  It is a great ride and piece of television history. I feel that Moonlighting has not received the respect it deserved.  It really was the most creative show ever.  You never knew what kind of show you were going to get week to week. A few years ago we also did a podcast about the best couples ever and of course I picked Dave and Maddie.  In two weeks, I will post a new blog about them as a couple.  Were they right for each other?  Did they love each other? And years later, why do we still remember them?  Keep an eye at this blog, our twitter account and Facebook for more Moonlighting Mondays.  I will be tweeting out pictures, websites and Fun on our Twitter account all month.

I have already heard from a ton of fans and it makes me happy to know that everyone is still ready to Limbo.

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88 China Beach Series Podcast with Brad Dukes

88 PodcastFor episode 88 we go back to 1988 to cover the complete series of China Beach with guest Brad Dukes. We talk about the amazing time shift in season 4, Dana Delany’s character McMurphy and the pitfalls of Season 3. We also compare Nurse McMurphy to Don Draper from Mad Men.  We don’t spoil any plot points so for those of you who have never watched this show, you can listen to our pitch about why you should seek this show out.  Brad interviewed some of the executives from ABC while he was researching for his wonderful book he wrote on Twin Peaks: Reflections.

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Better Call Saul: A Quality Study

I scoffed when I heard they were doing a spin-off from Breaking Bad about the slimy lawyer Saul.  I thought just let it go.  But after I watched the pilot to Better Call Saul, I thought maybe I was wrong.  The quality in the pilot episode is astounding.  The reason it is so amazing is a simple thing called Time.  The pilot takes it’s time.  The opening 5 minutes a black and white montage with no dialogue is the perfect coda to Breaking Bad.  It is followed up by 55 minutes of pure confidence.  What I hate most about pilots is they try to tell us everything in an hour.  This show left many questions open for us.  By the end of the hour his name isn’t even Saul yet.  I like the time and patience of they took in this pilot.  Most of that comes with the knowledge that AMC would have green lit anything Vince Gilligan presented to them.  Vince Gilligan is the best working director on TV right now.  He has the prowess and gravitas of a Quentin Tarantino.  There is no doubt he has a vision.  His use of focus and blocking was amazing for television. I could have turned off the sound and just watched the pictures he shot and been happy.  I miss how TV used to be about directing in the 1990’s.  For the most part that has been replaced with quick cuts and montages.  I must admit the story for the pilot was predictable, but that is what comes with starting a show with an already known character.  If all of a sudden the rules changed, that would be bad.

My long term question is where are the female characters?  Part of what made Breaking Bad work was how every male had a female to go up against.  It was why everyone hated Skyler White and Marie Schrader.  I am hoping we get a slimy female to match our slimy Bob Odenkirk.  And as of the second episode, which aired 24 hours later, we still don’t really see one.  In fact, in the two episodes, I am fairly certain a female has not a plot moving line of dialogue, in English.  Both episodes did have mysterious women in the background (maybe the same one) as if to tell us, they are coming.  I am sure one is, but she should show herself in episode 3.

Before I move on to episode 2, let me just throw a thought out there.  The person who really has to be shaking his head with this pilot is poor Matthew Weiner, creator of Mad Men.  Oh, how he will long to be the golden boy of television like he was 6 years ago.  Now his Mad Men has to follow this show to finish up.  I actually laughed out loud when I saw a promo for the final episodes during Better Call Saul.  Let this be a lesson to every producer who comes back for the money season and then stays another season after that season, because it will be open season on you when you do.  (I apologize to my English teacher for that sentence, but not to Matt.  I will enjoy watching Mad Men limp off the television stage.)

24 hours after a masterfully directed episode aired, they air episode 2.  The quality just wasn’t there.  Most pilots set up a directing tone and it is followed through out the series.  In Episode 2, they went with jump cuts, just like we see on every other show, and they didn’t do any of the off focus shots that filled the pilot.  They went to straight head shots, just like we see on every other show.  They also made a mistake.  I hate mistakes in television.  And from Breaking Bad, we really don’t expect mistakes.  When Saul was at Chuck’s house he said he takes his coffee with milk.  They said this just so we could be reminded that Chuck doesn’t have a fridge.  Then they immediately followed with a 5 minute music montage, just like every other show does, showing him ordering black coffee at least 20 times.  A small detail, but we have been trained to expect that everything is in the details.  I was not happy to see something like this slip by.  Mostly because how he takes his coffee is irrelevant, so why do the set up?

I think AMC, should have let a week pass before making us compare the pilot with episode 2.  It was just television in episode 2 and I was so longing for something more, something confident.  I am wondering if this will be a bit like Twin Peaks.  The episodes that everyone loved were the ones directed by David Lynch.   You needed Lynch’s touch to truly make it Twin Peaks.  You might just need Vince to be the director to keep it going.  I truly missed Vince’s directing in episode 2 and without it, it was just a fine hour of television.  I will be glad to wait a week to let the dust settle and reserve my overall opinion of the show after a few more episodes air.  I am not scoffing, but I am not busting out the Chrystal Meth yet, if you know what I mean.

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87 Parks and Rec, Parenthood, Boyhood and more

87 Podcast

For episode 87 we discuss a bunch of shows for 5 minutes at a time. We also discuss where the quality is: Movies or Television. The movie Boyhood is compared to the series Parenthood.   We start off with the way NBC is sending off the wonderful series, Parks and Rec.  Other shows discussed are: Scandal, How To Get Away With Murder, Downton Abbey and Ray Donovan.  For those Twin Peaks fans, hang around till the end of the podcast when Scott and Josh talk about what their In-Laws thought of the pilot of Twin Peaks.  It is a hilarious review.

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Amazon Streaming Presents: THE MAN IN THE HIGH CASTLE

TheManintheHighCastle-650
I’d been hearing quite a bit about this P.K. Dick adaptation, produced by Ridley Scott – not all of it good, so I decided to check it out for myself last night. Now – I’ve read a small handful of Dick’s stories, and I have great admiration for the man. His concepts are often complex and difficult to follow, but the man was undoubtedly a deep thinker and obsessed with humanity as a species from a sociological, ideological, and even metaphysical perspective as well as the individual concepts of identity, destiny, and fate. That’s quite an undertaking, and his results vary wildly, and are endlessly debated among fans of his work. His book THE MAN IN THE HIGH CASTLE is not one that I have read, so I went into the episode with zero preconceptions other than those which I derived from the various internet musings that I’d perused.
TMitHC is part of Amazon.com’s Instant streaming “Pilot Season”, where they present a grab-bag of commissioned “pilots” to be evaluated as candidates for a full series. This is the first time that I’ve viewed one of their pilots, although I believe that their Pilot Season is now in its third year. Amazon’s streaming service has always been considered by most to be a pale imitator of Netflix with a greatly reduced offering of titles. While that was certainly true in the past, and the service is most certainly still treading in the footsteps of Netflix, Amazon has come some distance in distinguishing themselves as an alternative to other streaming services; and while they have yet to develop their own series that has been as successful as Netflix’s HOUSE OF CARDS (soon releasing its third season on the service), allowing subscribers to “vote” on their favorite(s) of thirteen pilots seems like a effective path to developing that key successful series that has thusfar eluded them.
The concept in a nutshell is this: *What if* the axis powers had actually won World War II and had conquered the United States? I say “axis powers”, but apparently Italy didn’t draw enough water to warrant a piece of the good ol’ US of A. Most of the nation is controlled by the Nazis, while the western seaboard is ruled by the Japanese. The two territories are separated by a thin vertical strip known as the “Neutral Zone” which is inhabited by blacks and other minorities cast aside by the ruling powers, as well as others who are fleeing rule under the iron fist of the axis. The series is set in the 1960s – approximately twenty or so years after the U.S. surrendered to the Nazis upon dropping the first H-bomb on Washington D.C. Most people have “gotten on” with their lives, even though people being gunned down in the streets and beaten to death during interrogations is a daily occurrence. Not all Americans have given up, and we are introduced to “The Resistance” early on in the pilot, and this presents the jumping-off point for the plot. The twist which drives the plot concerns a mysterious newsreel filmstrip from post-WWII which depicts the *defeat* of the axis powers. It is the same footage familiar to most of us that includes the famous image of the sailor kissing his girl in Times Square. But how can such footage exist? How indeed. One character, upon seeing the footage, remarks that it is “faked” and is part of a cache of propaganda created by the mysterious “Man in the High Castle”; but – as another character replies – if it is faked, why are the Nazis and Japanese so eager to destroy the footage to the point of killing anyone suspected of possessing it? As you might guess, we get no answers to these questions in this first episode, but our main protagonist sets out to the Neutral Zone in search of such answers.
I’ve read some criticism of the pilot of being too heavy-handed, and that in the novel on which it is based, characters ranging from Americans to axis collaborators to the Nazi and Japanese occupiers are painted in shades of gray. Since I’ve not read the book, I can’t really draw any direct comparisons, but I can confirm that characters so far are painted with rather broad strokes (Nazis are bad… mmmmkay?), although we are presented with two Japanese and German characters who are working secretly toward some purpose that would undermine each of their respective governments and for which they could be found guilty of treason. There is also at least one other character appearing in the pilot who appears to be sympathetic, but none of them get enough screen time or development for us to be sure. In fact, being uncertain of anyone’s motives is a major part of the tension in the show. Who is truly part of the resistance, and who is really a collaborator? I suppose that the producers can be at least partially forgiven for their lack of subtlety, considering that that have one hour on which to sell not only Amazon on the series, but Amazon’s subscribers as well. Overall, I really did enjoy this one-off one-hour episode, and I am extremely interested to see where the story goes. I am hoping that the pilot gets picked up for production, and I would expect that we will see a bit more complexity in the character development if/when that happens. For fans of P.K. Dick and heady speculative fiction, I urge you to set aside an hour to watch this pilot, and to share your opinion with Amazon at their site after viewing it.
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