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TV REVIEW : A Low-Beam 'Moon' With Some Smart Repartee

The New Season. One of a series.

September 15, 1993|HOWARD ROSENBERG | TIMES TELEVISION CRITIC

The detective genre and romantic comedy have been mixing since William Powell and Myrna Loy wittily schmoozed and boozed as urbane Nick and Nora Charles in "The Thin Man."

This Dashiell Hammett-inspired screen couple spawned numerous imitators in movies and later on television, including ABC's marvelous "Moonlighting" and NBC's lesser "Remington Steele." The latest to try on these shoes--it's a loose fit--are the protagonists of ABC's new low-beam "Moon Over Miami," who start off like Israel and the PLO and end up like, well, Israel and the PLO. (It premieres tonight at 9:30 on Channels 7, 3, 10 and 42 before moving to its regular 10 p.m. slot next Wednesday.)

Neither geeky private eye Walter Tatum (Bill Campbell) nor fiery heiress Gwen Cross (Ally Walker) appear acclimated to the sophisticated repartee that executive producer Harley Peyton's script thrusts upon them.

Tatum and his operatives, Tito (Agustin Rodriguez) and Billie (Marlo Marron), tonight juggle two cases, one involving a suspected bank embezzler, the other a missing bride who outraged her groom and wealthy father by running out moments before the wedding. The runaway bride is Cross.

The story gets into trouble very quickly when Tito is inexplicably able to locate Cross among the teeming throngs in Miami's South Beach district, where the series is filmed. The hour does smooth out somewhat, but missing here initially, at least, are the easy-flowing wit, seductive rhythms and ingenious writing that made early "Moonlighting" one of the most charming series on television.

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