Moonlighting (1986) – Big Man on Mulberry Street, and Atomic Shakespeare

David (Bruce Willis) was married?! Maddie (Cybill Shepherd) is as shocked as the audience as the detective travels to New York after he learns that his former brother-in-law has died in Big Man on Mulberry Street.

Written by Karen Hall this episode debuted on 18 November, 1986.

Maddie trails David to New York to learn more about her partner’s past… How is that gonna play out? Maddie is understandably intrigued by the concept of David being married, and wondering what kind of woman he would marry. So, of course, she does a little exploration.

There’s also a dance number with Billy Joel’s Big Man on Mulberry Street (New York State of Mind also makes an appearance), which looks influenced by a sequence from Singin’ In the Rain, which is referenced at the beginning of the episode.

It’s rather troubling that once again, David begins the episode coming off a bender. It makes his character very uncomfortable, and unable to relate to. One could argue that it’s because of his brother-in-law’s death, but he was already in the bag when he got the call.

Honestly, he’s hasn’t really been likable for a large part of the third season so far, but once the story kicks into gear, it’s actually a really good epiosde. There are musical numbers, great character moments when David gets to the wake, and Maddie starting to realize she may have some serious feelings for him.

And when David discovers her there, the pair start to confront what is happening between them. And by episode’s end he’s much more likeable than he’s been for awhile.


Atomic Shakespeare takes us into fun surreal (and as always, meta) territory, as a student, who should be studying Shakespeare’s Taming of the Shrew wants to watch Moonlighting. As the kid moves onto his homework, he falls asleep and the cast of the show reenact the Bard’s play in his dreams.

The episode, with a lot written by Shakespeare, was also penned by Ron Osborn and Jeff Reno. It aired on 25 November, 1986 and is just a fun episode that doesn’t take itself seriously, lets the characters be true to how they are, while also bringing the classic play to life.

Colm Meaney makes an appearance, and the entire cast seems to be haing a great time as Shepherd takes on the role of Katerina, Willis is Petrucio, and Curtis Armstrong’s Lucentio, has his eye on Allyce Beasley’s Bianca.

There is lifts of direct Shakespeare, though not always from the same play, and lots of puns, and plays on words. In fact the Blue Moon Detective Agency seems perfectly cast for this episode, which is pure delight.

More casework next week as Moonlighting continues, and the series gets closer to jumping the shark… sigh. But this episode, this episode is brilliant!


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