Moonlighting: How The Pre-Dramedy Era Dramedy Made Words Cool Again

Created by Glenn Gordon Caron (Remington Steele, Tyrant) and running from 1985-1989, ABC's Moonlighting was this amazingly enjoyable mix of comedy, mystery, and romance that not only gave Cybill Shepherd's (Maddie Hayes) career a "version 2.0" while also introducing the world to the man who would one day Die Hard, Bruce Willis (David Addison). Over the course of 66 episodes, the Blue Moon Detective Agency (let's not forget Allyce Beasley's Agnes DiPesto) set the foundation for the concept of the "dramedy," offered our eardrums one of the top ten television theme songs in Al Jarreau's main tune, and even gave the masses a better appreciation for "iambic pentameter."

A scene from Moonlighting "The Murder's in the Mail" (Moonlighting Image: ABC)

It also showed 15-year-old me just how powerful words can be, how they can be sweet and sexy in one moment, and then deadly and dangerous the next. For me, Moonlighting was (at the time) a modern example of the Renaissance Period and Addison was a true "Renaissance man" in every sense of the word ("Atomic Shakespeare" comes to mind. Whether he's "courting" Maddie, besting an "opponent" through a thousand brilliant verbal slices, or threatening to do some serious, much-needed harm, the only thing Addison was missing was parchment and a big quill pen in his back pocket. But Maddie was no sponge. She gave as good as she got, some times better than she got. They were a combination of classic on-screen chemistry (with questionable feelings off-camera) with modern sensibilities. But all I need to prove my point can be found in the sixth episode of the premiere season: "The Murder's in the Mail."

With the detective agency still suffering from Maddie's finances being stolen (early Madoff hints), Addison decides it would be a good idea to dabble in a little debt collecting to help keep the lights on, but Maddie's more than a bit skeptical. A murder, a body that's more mobile than it should be for being dead, and a global conspiracy later? Turns out Maddie was right. But as enjoyable as the episode is on a number of levels, I must bring your attention to the famous "Mole on His Nose" moment. In the following scene, Addison and Maddie are attempting to pursue a suspect into what's clearly a high-security international event. The security guard has other ideas. What follows is an awe-inspiring exchange of "Seuss-ian" proportions- with the main exchange towards the end having branded itself into my brain matter ever since (yes, I actually know it by heart by now).

Security Officer: I'm sorry, but you're not on the guest list.

David Addison: That's because we're not guests. We're looking for a man with a mole on his nose.

Security Officer: A mole on his nose?

Maddie Hayes: A mole on his nose.

Security Officer: [to Maddie] What kind of clothes?

Maddie Hayes: [to David] What kind of clothes?

David Addison: What kind of clothes do you suppose?

Security Officer: What kind of clothes do I suppose would be worn by a man with a mole on his nose? Who knows?

David Addison: Did I happen to mention, did I bother to disclose, that this man that we're seeking with the mole on his nose? I'm not sure of his clothes or anything else, except he's Chinese, a big clue by itself.

Maddie Hayes: How do you do that?

David Addison: Gotta read a lot of Dr. Seuss.

Security Officer: I'm sorry to say, I'm sad to report, I haven't seen anyone at all of that sort. Not a man who's Chinese with a mole on his nose with some kind of clothes that you can't suppose. So get away from this door and get out of this place, or I'll have to hurt you – put my foot in your face.

Maddie Hayes: Time to go.

David Addison: Time to go.

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About Ray Flook

Serving as Television Editor since 2018, Ray began five years earlier as a contributing writer/photographer before being brought onto the core BC team in 2017.
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