Cover Image: Moonlighting


Pub Date:   |   Archive Date:

Member Reviews

I was a big fan of Moonlighting!
Back in the day when we had to wait and entire week for a new show, I was counting the minutes for this one.  Make a detective agency staffed by an ex-model and Private Investigator and you have t.v. gold.  The chemistry and sizzle between Cybil Sheppard and Bruce Willis was palpable. The witty banter was refreshing and addictive.  Since then many shows have followed suit, but this was a first for me.

So an oral history of Moonlighting is a book I am definitely wanting to read.  Unfortunately the galley was archived before I had a chance.  It is hitting the bookstores on June 1 2021.  Let's go get it!
Was this review helpful?
Oh wow! I can't even begin to tell you how much I loved this book! I was a fan of this show as a kid, but don't remember a lot from it from that time period. So when the show came out on DVD, I bought all of the seasons, re-watched, and fell in love all over again. And seeing THIS book was about to come into existence!? Yes please!

What a wonderful walk down memory lane and getting to learn all of the behind-the-scenes tidbits that took place throughout the series! I'd recommend this book to hardcore fans all day long, and look forward to owning it myself once it's published. It's such a great nostalgic trip. My only gripe is that Bruce Willis wasn't a part of it. That would have made this great book even better.
Was this review helpful?
Moonlighting by Scott Ryan is a free NetGalley ebook that I read in mid-April.

My older sister was utterly obsessed with this show and would rewatch VHS recordings of it with me as a 8 year-old. Though I was very young, I remember Moonlighting as being a real comedic detective show where its characters were funny and frequently acknowledged the fourth wall of the TV screen. Similarly, this book features many, many different voices of input and insight throughout each chapter of this book along with on-set photos. It’s also quite candid about the drop off in popularity after the end of season three and as actors broke off to do other things.
Was this review helpful?
I received this ARC from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

I loved the show Moonlighting, so I was excited to find this oral history on the show. The author Scott Ryan did a great job of getting behind the scenes tales and information, and piecing it all together. Plenty of photos from the show, which is always a plus! I wanted to watch the show again after reading this book, and was sad to see it's not available at a reasonable price. Maybe one day!

Even though Bruce Willis wasn't available to add his memories, there is plenty of wonderful stories from other cast members, writers, directors, etc. After reading this book, you'll remember why you loved the show. 

I love oral history books, and this one ranks up there with what I think is the best, "Live From New York". 

So, if you enjoyed the show Moonlighting, you'll love this book! And if you enjoy seeing what it's like to put together season after season of a show, you'll love this book!

If I could deduct a quarter of a star I would, and that's due to no Bruce Willis. But that's not the fault of the author. Well done, Mr. Ryan!
Was this review helpful?
"Once upon a time ABC-TV’s Moonlighting was among the most buzzed-about shows in the country, thanks largely to the bravado of creator Glenn Gordon Caron, who never met a television convention he didn’t want to break, and the sizzling on-screen chemistry between glamorous erstwhile film star Cybill Shepherd and a New Jersey bartender nobody had ever heard of before named Bruce Willis, who bickered and flirted ceaselessly on screen and engaged in epic off-screen battles that all these years later remain the stuff of Hollywood legend. This combustible blend of creative brilliance produced some of the most acclaimed, audacious, and innovative programming of the eighties, including a black and white tribute to film noir, with an introduction by Orson Welles; a parody of Shakespeare’s The Taming of the Shrew, written in iambic pentameter; an homage to The Honeymooners; and countless metafictive episodes breaking through the fourth wall - almost unheard of at the time for hourlong comedy-dramas. Without a doubt, Moonlighting helped pave the way for the era of prestige television we are now all enjoying. The real story of this pioneering television series and the extraordinary behind-the-scenes challenges, battles, and rewards has never been told - until now, Author Scott Ryan (The Last Days of Letterman, thirtysomething at thirty: an oral history, The Blue Rose, Scott Luck Stories) conducted over twenty interviews with the actors, writers, directors, and producers who made Moonlighting such a dynamic, unforgettable show, delving deep into their thoughts and feelings as they relive this magical moment in pop culture history in this full color oral history. New Interviews with: Cybill Shepherd (Maddie Hayes), Allyce Beasley (Ms. Dipesto), Curtis Armstrong (Herbert Viola), Glenn Gordon Caron Creator, Executive Producer, Writer Jay Daniel Executive Producer, Director Roger Director Writer, Producer, Season 4 Showrunner Allan Arkush Director Bob Butler and more."

The brilliant show that went SO off the rails. I am HERE for all the hot goss!
Was this review helpful?
Moonlighting: An Oral History by Scott Ryan is an interesting and, for those of a certain age, nostalgic look at the making of this iconic show. This is neither a gossipy tell-all nor an academic scholarly work, it fits nicely in the area of a serious approach that is still intended for a popular readership. It absolutely informs while it entertains.

I think the way Ryan presents the material leads some readers to think he jumps all over. This is not true, the book has a very clear structure. Rather than simply present one person's views about the show, then the next person's, and so on, it is more like listening to a discussion that is being led by a moderator. Ryan sets up chapters and periodically inserts some background or contextual information then offers short (a paragraph or two) excerpts from his numerous interviews. I think it is the fact the bulk of the book consists of short quotes from interviewees, though presented very much as if talking about the topic at hand, that confuses these readers. For me, Ryan's method worked very well. I could learn what several people thought on the topic without having to flip through the book. 

It should also be noted that this is not an analytical book, this is a history book rather than a sociology book. Many of the interviewees, in reflecting back on that time, make some loosely analytical assessments, but nothing one would consider particularly deep. The reader needs to also remember that while these people likely tried to be as honest as they could be, they are remembering things from several decades ago, filtered through their own lenses, then presented for a wide readership. In other words, specifics might be glossed over but what they felt, from joy to annoyance to anger, generally comes through very well.

I would recommend this to readers of television and popular culture history, as well as fans of the show. Not too many things, from TV shows and movies to songs and advertisements, from that era are without its flaws. Finding ways of appreciating what there is to appreciate while acknowledging problematic areas is both more difficult and far more useful than simply screeching about the bad and throwing out the baby with the bath water (you know I'm old when I still use that cliche!).

Reviewed from a copy made available by the publisher via NetGalley.
Was this review helpful?
Thank you NetGalley for providing me with this proof for review. 

Scott Ryan’s Moonlighting An Oral History is an absolute delight. The first point to be made is pedestrian, but so important in a book that is, in Ryan’s words ‘a scholarly look’. I would also like to suggest that this book is so much fun (while scholarly) that it is not just for the academic, but for a wider audience. Bearing both in mind, my pedestrian point is how well organised I found the material in the well-designed chapters. An oral history could well have meandered, with different contributors, sometimes with different views or recall, given their voices over a range of topics, events and episodes of the series. Ryan chooses all the comments so wisely that disparate interpretations of events, beliefs about motivations, and perspectives make each chapter a flowing composite story about a particular time, work style, episode, theme or set of relationships. 

For those who are like Ryan’s students at Yale when he refers to Moonlighting and is met with ‘this sea of blank faces’ it is worth relating some information about this ground-breaking television program. Moonlighting was an innovation in the 1980s’ established seriousness of intent and presentation of money, crime and even sitcoms, according to Scott. Into this milieu erupted Moonlighting which could be described as comedy or romance or detection: that is if one is attributing the normal categories to the series. As Scott shows, none of these categories can control the living, lively, explosive, and exciting series of ‘pie fights, rhyming secretaries, and chase scenes’ (oh, and ‘detection’) that was produced between 1985 and 1989.  Cybill Shepherd and Bruce Willis starred as Maddy Hayes and David Addison, brought together when Maddy’s wealth is stolen, and she is left with a run-down detective agency and a ‘wisecracking “detective”’. 

Smart departures from usual television programs were apparent in episodes such as one in black and white (introduced by Orson Welles); a Shakespearian storyline and costumes; reading letters from the audience to open an episode; and dance and singing sequences.  Descriptions of these, the excitements and the difficulties come to life through the actors’, writers’ and directors’ words. Secondary characters were given substantial storylines at times, and as the show ended in 1989, took up the space left by Maddy and David whose romance was largely unresolved, and the secondary characters married instead.

However, the stars’ sexual frisson provided much of the allure of the show. Ryan takes up the suggestion that the “Boink” between Maddy and David, led to the diminishing popularity of the show. He argues that to rely on this feature to explain diminishing ratings is erroneous, and a dangerous precedent to set for other television shows. Rather, he draws the reader to consider a range of ideas and possibilities that may have resulted in the diminishing audience. This idea provides a backdrop to the multitude of information that is arranged so engagingly through a variety of commentators. They include the actors, writers, directors, producers, songwriters, and staff. Of the latter, Ryan notes that the staff are on the spot throughout while ‘the main actors of TV shows only know what happened while they were on set’. 

The idiosyncrasies,  sheer courage and creative genius of the main writer for most of the series, Glenn Gordon Caron, shines through Ryan’s own writing as well as Caron’s words. Additional writers’ capacity to adapt to new demands, as well as make their own contributions, are given voice. Directors come to life as they interact with actors, writers, and technology. Cybill Shepherd’s comments are to the point, but not pointed, despite some trouble on the set at times. Bruce Willis’ and Scott’s timetables did not coincide to enable Willis to contribute, but not without valiant efforts.  

Ryan’s own observations of the period, the way in which attitudes and events were of the time but may not be acceptable today are acute. So, too is his understanding of Cybill Shepherd’s situation in a male dominated environment pre the ‘me-too’ movement. He also refers to other television shows and films for contrasting, as well as similar or inspirational moments relevant to Moonlighting. To finish on a note that is not pedestrian, Scott Ryan reflects upon the need for kindness, in general and in reflecting upon the genesis of this book arising from the kindness of Glenn Gordon Caron and Jay Daniel in their ‘kindness to a stranger [which] allowed this book to exist’. I, too, am grateful for the existence of this book. Firstly, it is enjoyable reading.  I also learnt so much about a show that I have heard about for years in various television courses and reading for these. Lastly, the information is scholarly – while Moonlighting is the focus, there is an abundance of material that will entice any reader interested in the development of television.
Was this review helpful?
I was obsessed with this show and the characters and the actors in the 80’s. It was fascinating to read about what was going through most everyone’s head during the good and bad times .... wish Bruce Willis would have participated but I get it.  I recommend this book to everyone who watched Moonlighting or ever heard about the drama.  It definitely explained a lot.
Was this review helpful?
This is like a love letter to Moonlighting. And for fans of Moonlighting, it is a wonderful behind-the-scenes discussion with the creative geniuses who created the magic of Moonlighting. And as a writer, it was also fascinating to learn more about the writing process.
Was this review helpful?
I read this ARC for an honest review
All thoughts and opinions are mine

I absolutely loved Moonlighting back in the day

Great book!
Was this review helpful?
What a great book! For anyone who loved Moonlighting or just a good book than this is for you. I truly enjoyed it.
Was this review helpful?
Talking Moonlighting, the show that broke the mould in a 1980s TV series World... Scott Ryan tells the story of this show through interviews with this show's cast and crew telling their thoughts and feelings about this cult show.

The Moonlighting (1985-89) TV series told the story and characters as created by Glen Gordon Caron. In the pilot episode, a bankrupt model, Maddie Hayes (Cybill Shepherd) takes a more active role in the City of Angels Detective Agency, a company that she owned but came to close down. Maddie and David then team up together as partners in the rebranded company, the Blue Moon Agency to solve cases in their crazy and offbeat way.

This 1980s TV series had me hooked then with its snappy comic dialogue, heartfelt homages, fun fourth wall moments and the more random song and dance segments. It also had the will they won't they sexual chemistry between the lead characters Maddie and David and later a romance for the supporting characters, the agency's kooky - but poetic - receptionist, Agnes DiPesto (Allyce Beasley) and Private Detective, Herbert Viola (Curtis Armstrong).

Moonlighting's on-screen and off-screen events are told in the contents of this no holds barred book, Moonlighting An Oral History by Scott Ryan. After reading the description of this book on Moonlighting, I was immediately keen to read about this 1980s groundbreaking American show. And who better to tell the truth of Moonlighting's story than those who starred in the show and those who worked behind the scenes.

This book is surprisingly the first book written about this television series, although his stint on Moonlighting is referred to in Curtis Armstrong's autobiography (Revenge of the Nerd: Or . . . The Singular Adventures of the Man Who Would Be Booger). Sadly we don't get Bruce Willis'  tales of this time and events, as although he had initially agreed to participate in this book, he was unable when it came to the time.

Ryan tells the bare bones of the story, as the book predominantly tells the story using candid interviews from the cast and crew. These answers have been pieced together by Ryan and tell the story in a coherent way. The interviews tell of both the cast and crews individual part in this story. This unique style was admittedly at first difficult to get used to, but then the logic of this method felt and understood. It makes this book more autobiographical account than a biographical one. Ryan in his compilation of these answers to his interviews tells an always honest, sometimes funny, at times heartbreaking but always interesting story of this show.

This written tribute to the show was made pleasant and enjoyable reading as this story flows well as we learn about this series. It is made all the more compelling as this was guaranteed to be a 100% honest and true account. These interviews examining the cast and crew's thoughts and feelings on this five-season detective series crossed with a romantic comedy. The titles of this book's chapters pay homage to screwball comedies, with titles such as Citizen Caron, Some Like it Not and Kiss Me, Shakespeare. These are full of a lovely selection of photographs this particular Moonlighting fan had not seen before.

In this book, I discovered the true premise behind the show, as a detective series secondary to a screwball comedy love story. The book tells about the casting of the two primary leads, and how Caron's vision was realised as he cast his dream actress for Maddie and his then hunt for her partner in crime, finding him in a New York bartender. Ryan balances the storytelling about both the rise and fall in ratings of the show through chapters ending the book with a heartwarming thanks to those who assisted him in this book.

It was lovely to read the warm and affectionate stories from the acting cast, with Cybill Shepherd, Allyce Beasley (Agnes DiPesto, the Blue Moon secretary) and Curtis Armstrong (Agnes love interest and a detective on the show) taking an active part in the storytelling. These actors all speak warmly of their co-star, Bruce Willis. It's lovely to learn of those roles off-screen from familiar names as Stanley Donen, who choreographed a dance sequence to Phil Spector and Billy Joel who provided musical numbers used on the show,s soundtrack. And learn of the show's many guest stars.

It is also interesting to learn about the creative techniques used in the making of the show. The book examines those behind the scenes moments, as cast and crew explain how specific episodes and scenes were set up and filmed. These episodes including the one where the leads consummate their relationship and for the in-show homages to Shakespeare, film noir and Casablanca. The show also looks at the decision making behind more controversial episodes.

On reading this book, it is clear that Ryan is still a huge fan of the show, and that he misses it deeply. It is felt in his book, as he and the others have written an honest and truthful love letter about this show. In this book and those quotes he shares, he tells of the joys of creating this unique groundbreaking series and clears up the misunderstandings and misconceptions that surround it. The feelings and thoughts of this cast and crew are felt strongly in this book and supported in every quote, remembrance and shared fact.

Ryan has done a sterling job in piecing those interviews together. It reads like the solution to an intricate 1000+ pieced jigsaw, as it creates a detailed picture. And for the first time feels the truth is out there. Let's hope Ryan and those who helped him in this endeavour can be heard loud and clear, with their talk on the show that gave both the TV and film industry, a much needed "boink".
Was this review helpful?
A wonderfully nostalgic look back at a funny and smart show. I loved revisiting this, and thinking again about scenes, lines, and moments I'd completely forgotten about. There's a humour to this that makes it deeply readable, and the author is clearly a huge fan of the show and culture of the era. For fans of Moonlighting and TV in general. Great access, great stories. Loved it.
Was this review helpful?
Thank you to NetGalley and the publisher for an opportunity to read this book

This  book cigs about the famous 80s show Moonlighting . If you were a fan, or had an opportunity to watch the show back in the day, you will enjoy the photos and stories behind the show. It looks like most of the former cast and crew ( with one notable exception) participated in this book.
Was this review helpful?
This is a great history of both a TV series and a period in history. The format is fun and easy to read, and the conversational tone is enjoyable.
Was this review helpful?
I used to love watching moonlighting as a teenager but did not know about the issues behind the scenes. 

This was a real revelation and so well written and researched. All the different narratives. 

A must read for all '80s fans brought back so many memories. 

I was given an advance copy by netgalley and the publishers but the review is all my own.
Was this review helpful?
I fell in love with Moonlighting during my first year at university and shamelessly used the episodes in every single essay about postmodernism I had to write. It's funny how quickly I became attached to a show that ended before I was old enough to watch television. Anyway, I was stoked to discover this book's existence. And it did not disappoint.

What I really liked about this "oral history" is the fact that Scott Ryan didn't just pick one version of events or come to an indulgent conclusion about why Moonlighting met its end. The style Ryan used really works here - the cast and crew are allowed, in their own words, to describe what production was like (with a focus on specific episodes). I enjoyed the conflicting narratives. I enjoyed being able to pick which one suited me most! A fantastic book for fans and anyone wanting to understand why some of their favourite shows from more recent times are the way they are.
Was this review helpful?
This was such a fun series back in the day. Many of us recall the behavior that ultimately ended the series, the only one who didn’t cooperate with the author. What a shame. It’s probably the same holdup keeping it from streaming.
Was this review helpful?
I only got to watch a few episodes, sporadically, the first season.  I loved it! Sadly, life kept getting between me and most tv back in the 80's and 90's, so I missed remainder of seasons. I'm actually glad this book came out as I'd forgotten about the series over the years (I'm now looking into checking them out on dvd!). This book made me feel a bit better that I apparently didn't miss too many! I look forward to watching the series. The book was interesting and will likely make more sense once I see the dvd's. I was disappointed the author didn't interview Bruce Willis, but happy to read Cybil Sheppard's recollections and all the others who worked on the show. I'd guess fans of the series would enjoy this book and really surprised no ones written anything about the series earlier! Well, it's long overdue and kudos to Scott Ryan for doing the work!
Was this review helpful?
Scott Ryan’s book, “Moonlighting, an Oral History”, brings the creative energy of the 80’s television series “Moonlighting” to a new, deeper life. The book has an oral history consisting of over 20 interviews with behind the scenes professionals who wrote and rewrote the scripts that were often ignored in the hysterical frenzy generated by so many of the right people working together at their peak performance. For me, the style used to present short quotes from so many people one after the other was difficult to follow at first. I did eventually get used to it.

 Moonlighting, An Oral History” is  a detective show. It’s also a romance, a comedy, and a drama. Ryan’s book is the first detailed version of the tv show.  It is an undeniable key resource for fans of this dynamic, unforgettable show.   Maddie Hayes (Cybill Shepherd) and David Addison (Bruce Willis) kept the action going by talking on top of each other as they continued to dance their push me - pull me love(?) affair.

Cybill Shepherd was interviewed.  The show's creator, Glenn Gordon Caron, was interviewed, as was Orson Wells, who made a cameo appearance.  In fact, every major player was interviewed except Bruce Willis. I have to wonder why one of the two stars is not included. 

Before I read the fourth chapter, I had to bring up YouTube to watch the entire series again.  It was even better than when I first saw it, if that’s possible.  It took some time for me to adjust to Ryan’s interview style since I generally read books with a beginning, a middle, and an end. By the end, I learned so many details. For example, about why Cybil Shepard was gone from the show for so long. Also, why Bruce Willis was gone from the show for so long.  I can’t tell you, though.  You’ll just have to read the book, published by 
Was this review helpful?