Moonlighting: An Oral History

Fayetteville Mafia. Jun. 2021. 288p. ISBN 9781949024265. pap. $29.99. TV
A mystery rom-com TV show unafraid to break the fourth wall, make a black-and-white episode, or tackle Shakespeare—it sounds like tough sell, but Moonlighting was in fact a certified hit. Until it wasn’t. Ryan (The Last Days of Letterman) investigates the 1980s detective series and interviews its cast and crew (minus Bruce Willis) in an attempt to document the rise and fall of a landmark television show. One myth he busts is that the show waned because Willis’s and Cybill Shepherd’s characters “boinked” (to use the show’s vernacular). Rather, he points to behind-the-scenes tension and the actors’ differing career trajectories; it’s hard to keep making a show built around a couple who suddenly aren’t sharing the screen. Ryan, a die-hard Moonlighting fan, avoids taking sides and instead lets the individuals involved speak for themselves. The cast and crew’s conflicting memories only add to the intrigue.
VERDICT Moonlighting was never syndicated, the DVDs are out of print, and tricky music rights have kept the show off streaming services. Ryan’s work is truly a labor of love, and fans will appreciate his effort, but readers unfamiliar with the series can skip this.
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