In "Sam and Dave" and continuing into "Maddie's Turn to Cry", Bert is a riot during the McClafferty surveillance and aftermath. He is totally into the stakeout where his enthusiasm is in over-drive as he continually snaps pictures and keeps a running chatter up--oblivious to David's obvious preoccupation and state of mind.
The next morning back at the office, Bert is so excited on his success and still wired from an all-night coffee high, he barges into Maddie's office with the lurid photos, offers up some editorial comments, and eventually gets hustled out the door by Agnes. He heads immediately over to David's office to share a copy of the booty with him. While the entire male office staff is gathered around to leer at the photos, we see Bert crashed out, head down on David's desk, the hero of the hour. When Maddie comes into David's office and the party breaks up, as Bert turns to leave, David proffers a handshake and a smirk and says, "Bert, from the bottom of my heart, thanks for the mammaries," which draws a chuckle and a warm and wonderful smile from Bert. Bert provides great comic relief during much of the Sam arc episodes and his scenes serve as perfect counter posed moments against the very emotional relationship crisis that is the main focus during this period of the series.
In "Cool Hand Dave, Part I" Bert Viola performs the very important task of spilling the beans about Miss Hayes's pregnancy to a stunned David Addison--but not before Bert shares a cute scene with Agnes as she inadvertently reveals the secret about the baby to him, and then makes him swear not to tell a soul..."not even Mr. Addison, especially not Mr. Addison."
In David's office, the revelation of Maddie's condition is played out in a very funny dialogue of confused identities fueled by hypothetical mumbo jumbo as Bert struggles for a way to let David know without breaking Agnes' confidence. Finally when a confused David Addison turns to him and says, "What are you talking about, I haven't knocked up anybody." Bert's reply is dead on, "Not just anybody, sir, you knocked up the boss." The shock on David's face--for once he is almost speechless--gives way to immediate, determined action on his part, and he thanks Bert for telling him and then exclaims, "I've got a plane to catch".
Bert has done what he has done for a very good reason, even though he knows Agnes is going to be furious at him. He sincerely believes it is in the best interest of the involved parties--Maddie, David and the baby--and so he feels it necessary to tell David. He shows unbelievable loyalty toward David, because it is important (especially to David) that David be told, and certainly sooner better than later. Bert feels he has a moral obligation to let David know and fully expects David to act responsibly and maturely based on this development. And David does. It is a wonderful moment between the two men when as he is heading out the door of David's office, even though he realizes he is going to have hell to pay with Agnes, Bert thoughtfully turns back toward David and says with a warm smile, "About Miss Hayes...I hope congratulations are still in order." I don't think I have ever loved Bert Viola more than I did at that moment. In that one line, he accomplishes a great deal: 1) he reminds the audience very gently of the potential paternity issue 2) he clearly offers his support and belief to David confidently letting him know he thinks he is the father 3) he manages to end the scene in a light and upbeat manner and 4) he voices all of the audience's thoughts--we were all convinced the baby was David's and weren't gonna be happy thinking anything else.
And then there is
"Maddie Hayes Got Married" where Bert Viola has to cover for the absent exotic dancer who is supposed to jump out of the cake at the bachelor party but has cancelled at the last moment.
First Bert encounters the two Addison brothers arriving...and when David recognizes him primarily by his voice, Bert has to come clean and tell what he is doing and why. "My only hope," he confesses to David and Richie, "is that they will all be so hammered in there they won't recognize who I am." For that one detail (the hammered part), Bert has no need to fear...they greet his eye-popping out-of-the-cake arrival with catcalls and appropriate fanfare.
The ensuing dance number is one of the most hilarious things you will ever see on "Moonlighting." As he bumps and grinds to "That's Why the Lady is a Tramp," Bert pulls off a great female impersonation...he actually isn't a half bad looking woman...and he certainly knows all the moves. My favorite moment in the dance is when he entices office rival McGillicuddy into removing the garter off his thigh with his teeth. That is too funny and the reactions of David and Richie as well as Walter (the only ones who appear to be in the know on the switch) add to the comedy. Clearly this scene required guts from Mr. Armstrong, and he did a fantastic job.
Bert and David's first "buddy" scene occurs in "Blonde on Blonde", and
gives us an indication that there is lots to look forward to in watching
these two men interact.
On the premise that they will be working together on a case, Bert lets
David lure him and his brand new car into following Maddie. Bert is
thrilled, and in typical Bert style, waxes poetic about his opportunity and
his excitement in working with David. David, absorbed in his quest,
basically ignores Bert, and has him go through a series of driving maneuvers,
destined to wreak havoc on Bert's car...which result in a comedic chase
with Bert wincing and bemoaning the car's fate.
Once Bert realizes that Maddie is the subject of the pursuit, he uses
the opportunity of his new found relationship with David to discuss the
office perception of David's relationship with Maddie........"some people at the
office think there might be something personal between you and Miss Hayes".
Bert does not hesitate to jump right into David and Maddie's business. David
launches into a ridiculous explanation for the reason they are following
Maddie, and Bert falls for it hook, line, and sinker.
Their search leads to Metropolis, a nightclub where Bert again
delivers his verbose opinion on the condition of life and the singles bar,
seemingly distancing himself far from this type existence. He is busted big
time when the waitress acknowledges him by name and asks him if he'd like
We learn a lot about the character of Bert in this episode.....I think
he actually reveals more here than in all the previous episodes. We see his
excitement at working with his hero, David, and the lengths he will go to
please him. We also get to see the bravado, and a bit of the facade he tries
to show us, which slips to reveal him as an ordinary guy in the ordinary
world, doing what we all do to get along.
We realize that Bert is definitely going to be a voice in what lies
ahead...a voice with lots and lots of words. But his motives are pure,
and his enthusiasm and dedication will prove to make him invaluable to Blue
Moon, and most particularly to David and Agnes.
A very revealing scene, and another favorite is in Tale in Two Cities...interesting I guess, because I really don't like this episode. But again, the shining moment is Bert's -- when he and David go back to the house of the women they picked up at the bar. Bert stands dripping on the carpet, telling David about his love for Agnes, and his true feeling that they need to resolve their differences. His argument is full of logic, and sincerity…and it must be very difficult for him, voicing these thoughts to his hero, and being unsure of what reaction he will get. He is visibly relieved when David agrees with him, and then visibly stunned when the car keys hit him. The moment is perfect, you can tell that Bert is more than a little disappointed in David…..but has the conviction to follow his heart out the door, and back to Agnes. Bert has a built in confidence that can't be swayed when he knows he is in the right.
My favorite Bert scene is from "Cool Hand Dave, Part 1"...of course, the scene where Bert serenades Agnes with Sexual Healing. This scene includes some great stuff...he sings and dances with the best comedic timing, he is a man not afraid to make a fool of himself for the woman he loves, and when he flashes that smile, Agnes is just putty in his hands. The scene continues with a sincere apology, and a very Bert offer to join the French Foreign Legion...and the very cute "Would you mind losing a little sleep over me?" The thing that makes Bert a great and memorable character is that he is completely out front……not afraid to express his emotions or his opinion...this is what endears Bert to me, especially in this scene.
Another great scene is a very small one, but is probably the best glimpse of Bert as a friend, and perhaps a bit more. In "Maddie Hayes Got Married," the office is scurrying, getting ready for the first glimpse of Walter Bishop, when Bert bursts into David's office. He is appalled by the idea of Walter Bishop's visit, and tries to convince David to leave with him, and avoid the meeting. His indignation is fierce, fueled by his compassion for David and his situation. I think Bert sometimes sees he and David as one, or at least very similar individuals, and his anger over Maddie's marriage includes much more than the feelings he has for the pain his friend is going through. Because Bert wants to be David, and even sees himself as David to a point, Maddie's actions have a very real effect on him as well. Maddie's betrayal of David is so very real, and David is trying so hard to hide his hurt, that Bert becomes the real manifestation of David's true feelings...and no friend could have done it better.