Moonlighting: “The Dream Sequence Always Rings Twice”

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Some walk by night, some fly by day…

God, who didn’t love Moonlighting? Maddie Hayes. David Addison. The Blue Moon Detective Agency. They had such amazing chemistry! Cybill Shepherd was so beautiful and Bruce Willis was so sly; watching the show, which was always well written, was always fun. Maddie and David could banter and bicker like Nick and Nora Charles from The Thin Man movies, and that’s a good thing. Since the show didn’t run long enough to reach the number needed for syndication, it was seldom seen on TV after it went off the air in 1989. There was even an online petition started back in 2002 by fans who were outraged that their beloved show wasn’t available for purchase on DVD! In these days of streaming video, it may seem a tad silly that people would start a letter writing campaign, demanding that a distributor release big, bulky boxed sets of DVDs, and yet it was a fairly common occurrence.

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One of my favorite episodes (and it may be one of yours as well), was “The Dream Sequence Always Rings Twice.” Perhaps it was memorable for the fact that the show slipped into a film noir-ish black and white format about 10 minutes into the episode. Perhaps it was because Cybill Shepherd looked so glamorous in black and white (at that age, I had not yet seen The Last Picture Show). Perhaps it was because Orson Welles introduced the episode—alerting the viewer to the fact that the TV show would appear altered, but it was merely a trick and there was nothing wrong with their television sets.

owellesWelles’ participation in this show was ultimately his last appearance on-screen. He died a few days before the episode aired.

Moonlighting Producer and Creator Glenn Gordon Caron did an interview for the Archive of American Television, and here’s the portion where he talks about the events surrounding getting Welles to agree to do the intro as well as sharing what it was like to be on set, directing him, that day.

The conceit of the episode is that David and Maddie are investigating an unsolved murder at a once-famous night club. They disagree over who they think committed the murder of a nightclub singer’s husband (a pair of lovers were convicted as the killers, but both only blamed the other for the crime), and Maddie storms out of their office. From there, she heads home and falls asleep- which is when the first dream sequence begins.

In her dream, she and David embody the characters of the killers: she the nightclub singer, and David the coronet player, and the tale of the events surrounding the murder are told from the nightclub singer’s perspective. Halfway through the episode, things switch to present-day/color, where Maddie wakes from her dream and calls David, waking him. From there we enter David’s film noir-ish dream about the murder, this time narrated by the coronet player.

Here’s Maddie singing “I Told Ya I Loved Ya” in her dream sequence

At the end of the episode, in the present day, Maddie and David have a brief conversation at the office (said in voice-over) using just their facial expressions; each still convinced that their idea of who was guilty was right. On paper this scene sounds hokey, but on screen it’s fun and it works.

Debra Frank, who co-wrote the episode, did an interview for davidandmaddie.com, a Moonlighting fansite, where she talked about the dream sequence idea, and how the writers didn’t give up until they found a TV show who would say yes to this type of idea.

Filming in black and white was our idea. We were so young and naïve we didn’t realize it was going to be a problem. Carl and I loved the idea of doing an unsolved mystery in the 40’s and having the detectives go back in time and play the part of the young lovers. We thought it was a great idea, however, no one else did. We pitched it to several shows and everyone told us it wouldn’t work – “black and white will be too confusing, people won’t understand, you guys will never work in this town.” But we never gave up on the idea and after a while it became our joke pitch. I would open with it, then the producers would tell us we don’t understand the business, and then we’d pitch another idea hoping “Please God, let us get an assignment.” Then we pitched it to Glenn. We were waiting for the rejection, the lecture, the usual – when Glenn said, “I love it” and ran with the idea. That’s when he came up with the notion of filming it in two different film styles.

To watch the episode in full (and I suggest that you do), you can check it here:

djdarko

It's all just pops and clicks within the vinyl groove I'm listening to. Music, movies, commercials, action figures, cassette tapes...anything that you left in your parents' attic when you moved. I want to talk about it.
-DJ Darko, Your Pop Culture Mixologist

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