Tuesday, July 8, 2008

Moonlighting Seasons One & Two: Classic Episodes, Part 3 of 5

Two more from Moonlighting, including the series' first of two clever Christmas episodes.

Season Two (continued):

• “Atlas Belched” (airdate: 12/10/85) ***
Very ‘80s “sting” music follows a robbery of office equipment in the opener— has Blue Moon been robbed? We soon discover that it wasn’t Blue Moon, but we get another surprise, Maddie has brought breakfast-for-two into the office: served on fine china for he and she. But the bad news is Maddie has ideas of selling the agency. But kismet strikes and David just might be able to impress a big fish and put Blue Moon on the map. Perfect Strangers’ Mark Linn-Baker guest stars as a poor schmuck whose bosses’ rolodex was stolen out of his office due to his negligence— he knows his job is as good as lost, until David meets him in a bar and takes the case in a preemptive strike at finding it before the boss finds out. Reference heavy episode: Ronald Reagan, Madonna (and the error in thinking she wouldn’t last), even The Lone Ranger, Because it’s such a downer, this is an episode you might not want to go back to— but it serves a purpose— to show how delicate and fleeting things in your life can be: for Maddie and David, it’s their happiness and fulfillment at Blue Moon— for the audience it’s basically the exact same thing, as their happiness is ours. As a part of the greater whole, an important episode in the series, and one that serves to bring our lead characters closer together.

• “Twas the Episode Before Christmas” (airdate: 12/17/85) ****
This episode is mostly remembered for its epilogue, an ending as wonderful as It’s A Wonderful Life— and I wouldn’t dare spoil it— but let me just say, again, no one was doing this kind of thing in series television in 1985. The show starts with another unsettling but effective opener that involves a heinous killing, softened only slightly by the familiar face of Richard Belzer. But even this opening (and retelling of the incident later) doesn’t impact the absolute happiness and ho-ho-ho jolliness of this Christmas episode. A great showcase for all three leads— Shepard, Willis, and Allyce Beasley; and the three are in top form. Seeing Agnes’ Dipesto’s apartment is a delightful surprise and its exactly as you’d expect. The way Agnes interacts within her home environment is very well written and played. The conceit of the “three kings” (and their crowns) is very funny, the other Christmas references are only so-so acceptable. The scene where David mocks Maddie, repeating her every words at the office, is masterfully timed. Wacky confrontation with the villains at the denouement is the show at its absolute silliest. For a show that had nothing to do with children and raising a family, the writers managed to pull off a Christmas miracle.

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