Moonlighting With
Women Writers of Moonlighting: Part II
An Interview with Writer, Story Editor and Co-Producer,
Kerry Ehrin

Part I: Karen Hall | Part II: Kerry Ehrin | Part III: Debra Frank

Kerry Ehrin: Page 1 | Page 2
The Writers Strike of 1988 on Moonlighting
The 1988 Writers' Strike as depicted on Moonlighting in the epilogue to the episode And The Flesh Was Made Word, written by Kerry Ehrin. That's Kerry as one of the striking writers.

"Blonde on Blonde" is the episode that started the famous Trilogy...and set the course for the relationship future of the series. A few questions here: 1) Do you remember what it was like during the planning stages of the final episodes of the third season...when and how was the decision made to advance Maddie and David's relationship to a sexual one?

I wasn't on staff then so I wasn't in on the planning stages.

When you wrote Blonde on Blonde did you know of the outcome of the much say did you or any of the writers have in what would happen?

I did know the outcome of the trilogy but I was not on staff yet so I had no real say about anything.

This episode was named Blonde on Blonde as a second choice. The original title was The Night of the Zipless Dave which resonates with Erica Jong's Fear of Flying. Was the Jongian aspect something you conceived off and tell how you wanted this to relate to Maddie's situation? Who made the decision to change the title to Blonde on Blonde why was it changed and explain the Bob Dylan connection.

I unfortunately cannot answer any of these. I don't think I came up with either title. I think it was changed because the trilogy titles were all references to sixties songs. Blonde on Blonde was just funny because the premise of the story is that two blondes got mixed up. Sorry I don't have a deeper answer for you on that.

Blonde on Blonde coverSam and Dave coverLeslie Gore Cover
The albums/groups/songs of the 1960's that inspired the titles of the Moonlighting trilogy episodes in season three.

To Heiress Human is a wonderful episode, with perhaps the most powerful back story (parallel story) of the entire series. What can you remember about the pressures of writing the first episode after Maddie and David made love?

That aspect of it didn't feel pressured. It felt like fun, new territory. After all, we all wanted them to get together too. We had done almost twenty-two episodes at that point playing out the same will-they-won't-they dance. It was refreshing to move on to new territory.

This episode was quite a shock to many people (that Maddie and David just would not move on to happily ever after once the physical barrier was removed). But the retreat into themselves is just so typically Maddie and David...did you know that you would be fighting public opinion by keeping them physically together, but emotionally at arms length?

No. Not that it was my decision, but I cannot imagine any other way they would have been given who the characters were.

Cybill's unexpected pregnancy certainly changed long-range plans. Can you remember what the long range plans were for Maddie and David and how they were altered? At that time, did you have a different idea as to how the pregnancy should have been handled? In hindsight, was there a better way to handle it?

I wasn't in on the long range plans, if in fact there were any. I always felt like part of the show's charm was the flying-by-the-seat-of-one's-pants quality, that I believe trickled down from the top. I do remember being a bit disappointed when I heard we were going to play Maddie pregnant. Had I been running the show, however, I probably would have done exactly the same thing. It takes it in a new direction, gives you a ton of stories and new emotions to play.

In hindsight I don't know that there would have been a better way to handle the pregnancy. I like that Maddie got pregnant. However, I was never thrilled with losing the baby. It was too sad and put such a dark spin on the show. Perhaps I would have let her and David live together and try to function as a normal mother and father while living this totally bizarre other life as detectives. I probably would never have let them get married, however. I think they always needed to have one foot out the door just to be able to breathe.

Father Knows Last is an absolute jewel of an episode..full of self revelation for David. I think it is one of Bruce's best performances in the entire series. How did you look at David, and decide that he would take this experience to step up and take things in hand?

The disappointing answer to that is I think Cybil needed a week off for something so we had to write an episode without her in it. So what can you do with David if it's just him and Maddie's dad? The emotional story seems self evident when you're given those parameters.

David's speech in the plane is classic. The aired version was altered significantly from the beginning drafts. Who made those revisions?

I no longer remember. It was either probably either Glenn Caron or Roger Director, at that time.

Did Bruce have any input into the final version?

I don't remember. Probably.

I am particularly touched by some of the scenes between Maddie and her father...they are extremely well written, and staged. Did the relationship between the actors help to make them so effective?

I can't answer that as I knew nothing of their professional relationship.

We have encountered several feminist critics lambasting the show as being anti-feminist and as favoring David's opinion and desires over those of Maddie's. They claim Maddie is made to look wrong or harsh and that chauvinist David comes out on top most of the time. What is your reply to this?

I think that's a little misguided, although I can understand at first glance how you could think that. I feel that David's opinions and desires are "favored" because his desire was to be with this woman he loved. All the chauvinistic stuff that came out his mouth was a smoke screen. Maddie's basic desire was to stay emotionally guarded, not take chances. It's human nature to be more attracted to David's desire than to Maddie's. They're both neurotic; David was just a more functional and endearing neurotic than Maddie., who was more cold and reserved. I don't think it has anything to do with their gender.

When and for what did you leave the writing staff of Moonlighting?

I was there from the first order to the bitter end. I left because the show ended.

You have an amazing television, in addition to Moonlighting, you've written for Newhart, The Wonder Years, and Growing Pains. Which was your favorite? Which do you think is your best work?

Actually, I only wrote one half of one episode for Newhart and Growing Pains. I did work on The Wonder Years, which was an excellent show and a fun job. Nothing, however, has ever held a candle to the love I had for Moonlighting.

You've done the feature films "Mr. Wrong" and "Inspector Gadget." Do you prefer television or movies?

The Cast of Cold Feet
I like both. I usually prefer one while I'm doing the other. The grass is always greener, you know.

To add a personal comment about Cold Feet I think it had a wonderful chance of making it, but its position in the lineup was unfortunate. Would you have chosen a different circumstance to launch that series?

Yeah. Better time slot. And advertising would have helped. It was a cool show and deserved a better chance.

Are you still working on Boston Public?

Boston Public was cancelled in January. I will, however, be returning to David Kelley Productions in June.

We heard some very good things about Partners...your pilot that wasn't picked up for the fall season. Is there a possibility it could be picked up as a midseason replacement?

Not at this point.

Would you like to tell us what projects you are working on currently and where we might see your work turn up in the future?

As I said I'm working at Kelley Productions in June: I'm not sure which show I'll be on, it will either be a new show called THE DIMARCO AFFAIRS or the James Spader spin off. I'm excited to do either. Also I'll be doing a pilot (probably for Universal) and possibly a feature with Jordan Kerner, depending on scheduling.

Bonus Questions: (Just for fun, if you want to try) Would you like to play ML fan? Here are a couple of questions that the Moonlighting fans love to debate... are you ready?

1) Sam Crawford (Mark Harmon's character) Good guy or Bad guy?

2) Why do you think Maddie Hayes married Walter Bishop?

3) Do you think that having Maddie and David sleep together is what caused the demise of the show (AKA jump the shark)? If not, what do you think did?

4) A Moonlighting reunion show or movie....good idea, bad idea or an impossible dream?

The only one I can answer is the last (the first three I'd have to go back and study all the motivation for the characters - it's been a long time and I can't remember). However, for the last, I personally think it's both a bad idea and an impossible dream. I like to remember it as it was. It was magic.

April, 2004

From The Wonder Years

Kerry Ehrin: Page 1 | Page 2

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