From Maddie's Dream in "Big Man on Mulberry Street"
Dreamland, A Study of the Use of Dream/Fantasy in "Moonlighting"
In several episodes scattered throughout the five seasons of Moonlighting, we are treated to peeks into the subconscious of a character through the use of a dream or fantasy sequence. In many cases these plot diversions are used to tell us the person's deepest needs or desires. Other times they are used to inspire or incite the character to take action in a situation that they have been having difficulty with. At other times, the dream/fantasy acted out before us represents something that the character is thinking about, although they never express it verbally. Those thoughts can be about another character and show us their fears or hopes for this other character or they can be about the dreamer him/herself. And on a few occasions, the dream/fantasy sequence is the story itself, a surreal reality that begs for comparison to what might be the truth and the actual reality over what the character(s) puts on as an image or disguise. So what is more real--the reality or the dream? You be the judge.
When a dream sequence is used narratively, this would be considered a form of distancing or moving the character and his/her actions one layer deeper into the real vs. theatrical framework, in essence away from reality. This further blurs the delination to us between television characters and real people. Because we become further confused about reality due to the use of this fantasy techinique, that in itself seems an irony because the technique actually reveals more about a character, but obscures reality. However distancing the technique may be, it does allow for some interesting developments though, because many times we get to see this character do something that we have never seen them do before, something that we know they have wanted to do but have been unable to do or that they think about but would never do. We learn a lot about the character's motivations and psychology when we see his/her fantasy/dream enacted, and we become even more familiar with and attached to these characters that have shared their inner-psyche.
The use of a dream/fantasy technique in Moonlighting began small in an early episode of the second season, "Money Talks...Maddie Walks" where Maddie has a brief dream on her flight to Buenos Aires to seek out her crooked accountant that has stolen all her money. Maddie dreams that she confronts the accountant and because of her class, style and strength of character, the man is intimidated and returns all her money. This is a very short dream sequence consisting of one scene lasting about 3 minutes. But this does set up Maddie's situation and disappointment when she gets to Sawyer's casino in Buenos Aires. We are now able to anticipate her big letdown.
It was the episode following "Money Talks...Maddie Walks" that set the standard on the show for the dream sequences and the role they would play in the narrative--this was in the critically acclaimed black and white episode, "The Dream Sequence Always Rings Twice." Notice even the title references the dream motif.
Please click on the episode title below to investigate each dream/fantasy sequence in detail. Dream Studies are under construction and are coming soon. Check back soon for more info.
Money Talks...Maddie Walks
The Dream Sequence Always Rings Twice
The Man Who Cried Wife
Big Man on Mulberry Street
It's A Wonderful Job
A Trip to the Moon
Come Back Little Shiksa
Cool Hand Dave II
Tracks of My Tears
Here's Living with You, Kid
A Womb with a View
I See England, I See France, I See Maddie's Netherworld
In 'n Outlaws
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