Moonlighting

 


You could argue that this was the very early beginning of prestige television, a show so good it rivaled feature films in quality and substance:

It’s impossible to say all the ways in which Moonlighting influenced television that came after it. Its wacky breaking-the-fourth wall, mile-a-minute jokes, throwaway references that not all audience members might even understand place it in a lineage of television’s smartest, most sophisticated situation comedies. And its particular, zany take on the “lighthearted detective show” gambit was new, too—whenever I watch a show like Psych, I am overcome by the debt owed to Moonlighting. But Moonlighting’s impact was also extremely personal. One of these days I’ll launch an essay contest, a “what Moonlighting means to me” sort of deal. It made an enormous impact. The television critic Howard Rosenberg, who had panned the show upon its release, wrote a correction a few weeks later to apologize for not having understood Moonlighting and to confirm that he had since seen the light. After its startling first season, it had become such an enormous sensation that (according to people who were alive in the 80s) Moonlighting became the ubiquitous conversation topic on Wednesday mornings at work. Two years after it aired, sixty million viewers tuned in to watch the protagonists finally hook up, in a passionate (edgy for prime-time) sex-scene that involved destroying every nearby prop. (Anyone who wants to read about this, more in-depth, should pre-order Scott Ryan’s official book on the series, which is due out in June 2021.)

In terms of being a romance, procedural, mystery, or comedy show, Moonlighting was really a screwball workplace program. It did sexual tension and chemistry better than Cheers and was so good it burned out and fell off the schedule before most people knew it was even there.

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