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'Moonlighting' in the Cold Light of Day

February 11, 1988|LEE MARGULIES | Times Staff Writer

Cybill Shepherd's twins are going to have a lot to answer for. They're the ones who wrecked "Moonlighting."

Last season's most innovative TV series is this season's biggest bore. Tuesday night's episode, in which Maddie confirmed she was married and David did nothing but smile wanly, was the proverbial final nail in the coffin.

Only don't schedule this corpse for cremation: There's no fire left. It isn't even "Moonglowing."

If only Shepherd hadn't gotten pregnant. Then there would have been no need to create Maddie's pregnancy. Then there would have been no need to write her out of the show for half a season. Then there would have been no need to leave us loyal viewers twiddling our thumbs while waiting for the show to get back to being its clever, rambunctious, tempestuous self.

But after stringing us along for four months with an increasingly hollow soap opera about David and Maddie's smoldering romance, the producers decided to snuff it out rather than rekindle it. When Maddie finally returned to the Blue Moon detective agency last week, they had her hit David with a double whammy: She'd gotten married on the spur of the moment to a virtual stranger--and the baby she is carrying isn't David's.

Where's the dream device when you need it?

"Dallas" used it in 1986 to wipe out an entire season and bring Bobby Ewing back from the dead. "Moonlighting" fans were hoping the device would resurface this week to explain the sudden, infuriating plot twist.

Forget that the impulsiveness of Maddie's marriage was totally out of character and that she couldn't possibly know whether the baby is David's or Sam's: The callowness of her actions made her completely unsympathetic and undeserving of David's devotion.

Instead of repudiating this development, however, "Moonlighting" ran with it, filling Tuesday's installment with mind-numbing prattle about how what Maddie and David have together is too special for marriage.

Hey, we can see that kind of brooding sensitivity done a whole lot better an hour later on "thirtysomething."

Oh, well. As the "Moonlighting" characters kept trying to point out Tuesday, they're not real. It's only a show. And it was great fun while it lasted.

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