Moonlighting (1985) – Portrait of Maddie, and Altas Belched

It’s a different kind of case for Maddie (Cybill Shepherd) and David (Bruce Willis) this week as Kerry Ehrin and Ali Marie Matheson pen this episode that aired on 26 November, 1985.

For the first time ever, the Blue Moon Detective Agency is in the black, but the funds are soon gone when Maddie buys a painting. A unique painting that is at the heart of a mystery. A successful artist finishes his latest work, Charles’ Treasure, a portrait of Maddie (though she’s never sat for him), and kills himself(?).

Not understanding her motivations completely, she buys the painting, but things get interesting when the dead man’s brother, Charles Wright (John Calvin) shows up and relates the story of his brother, and his own crush on Maddie’s modeling work.

But when he ends up dead, shot through the heart, much like his brother, things get really weird. He was an art thief, and there is something so much more going on here. There’s forgeries, and scams, all about a missing painting, and everyone thinks Mddie, or her portrait is the key.

Dan Laurie shows up as the police lieutenant working the case.

David gets some meta dialogue, referring to the writers and the networks, but he’s also a little off. He comes across a little meaner than usual, but I think that’s more due to the way it’s written than anything else. He takes a number of digs at Maddie’s ego and model work.

Still, it’s a unique mystery that works well for the series, and the final showdown goes through a lot paint.


Atlas Belched was penned by Roger Director and first hit the airwaves on 10 December, 1985.

Maddie contemplates selling the company to a rival detective agency (which is weird, as they were just in the black in the previous episode and she seemed to be really enjoying the casework lately – something David brings up as well). This, understandably upsets David who decides to set up his own agency.

Of course, it doesn’t go well for either party.

Mark Linn-Baker co-stars in the episode, he bumps into David in a bar, and reveals his company has been robbed recently, and a rolodex of important numbers is missing, and David sees the possibility of taking on the case, because it’s a big name client and company.

As always, not everything is what it seems to be, but David is back on track character-wise, director has the character down, and of course, Willis brings him to life perfectly.

And the series is getting really good at the wacky chases and laugh out loud climaxes.

In the end, David and Maddie decide the agency should be theirs, whether or not they land big clients.

The casework continues next week as I continue my time with the Blue Moon Detective Agency, and the folks of Moonlighting.






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