Moonlighting With

Airing on NBC at 9 PM EST/8 PM CST for 1984-1986, this Stephen J. Cannell production went out in a very clever way, with a parody serving as an homage to the show that beat them out of their Tuesday night time slot--"Moonlighting." Called "If You Can't Beat 'Em, Join 'Em" (episode #55 of 56 total episodes), this ML take-off aired April 18, 1986 and was written by Executive Producer Babs Greyhosky & Producer Tom Blomquist.

Writers of the parody episode, Babs Greyhosky & Tom Blomquist
Photo from a video cap of the Entertainment Tonight segment on the parody show.

For those not familiar with the show's premise, Riptide has been called a 1980's update of the 1960's detective show Surfside Six which was also about three detectives who lived and worked aboard a boat. It starred Perry King, Joe Penny and Thom Bray. For those interested, there is a nice episode guide for the show here.

The cast of Riptide
L to R: The stars of Riptide--Thom Bray (Murray 'Boz'), Joe Penny (Nick) & Perry King (Cody).

A brief interview with the episode writers, Babs Greyhosky & Tom Blomquist

Q: Who's idea was it to do a parody show of "Moonlighting" and what was your intention?

Babs: Tom & I came up with it. We were both fans of "Moonlighting" and were very respectful of how soundly they had trounced us on Tuesday night. It seemed natural to pay tribute to them with the kind of off-the-wall storyline that they, themselves, might have done.

Tom: It was a great opportunity to have some fun with the eccentricities of our own series, and with television detective shows in general.

Q: When casting for the guest stars playing Rosalind & Cary in this episode, what were you looking for in making your selection?

Tom: We wanted people who could caricature Bruce & Cybill in the same way our script broadly parodied the "Moonlighting" writing style.

We wanted to deposit our cast, Perry King, Joe Penny and Thom Bray, into David and Maddie's goofy world -- but that would only be possible if we could find two ideal guest stars.

Q: You mentioned that the "Moonlighting" cast and crew were aware of the episode and watched it. What do you know about their reactions to it?

I met the "Moonlighting" story editors at a Writers Guild conference. They told me that everybody watched our show that night and that they got a kick out of it.

We also heard somewhere that Bruce Willis phoned our guest star, Richard Greene, one night and asked to meet him.

Video captures from the episode

Rosalind very filtered
Rosalind in soft focus, mucho mucho filtered.

In a scene from their show, Cary postures while Rosalind contemplates.
Cary very cooly perched on the edge of the credenza, while Rosalind awaits the data from the very fake cardboard computer.

Cary telling Rosalind to behave.
Cary to Rosalind after she has insulted him, "Now, now behave in front of our visitors, or I'll tell them what color your hair really is --- and how I found out."

The producer of the show introduces the Riptide boys to his stars.
On set, the producer introduces the Riptide team to his actors...notice the tennis shoes on the actress and the sunglasses, watch on right wrist, and seating position of the actor.

Let's make love now!!

Cary exclaims, "...this is life: the danger, the suspense, possible death lurking behind every corner.... Let's make love now before it's too late."

Cary never lets an opportunity slip by to touch his partner.
Cary never lets an opportunity slip by to touch his lovely partner, much to her dismay.

Rosalind is livid that Cary had her in a clinch in the convertible.
Rosalind is outraged by Cary's antics in the backseat of the convertible.

Cary explains that he wasn't really doing what she thinks although his description is rather colorful.
Cary counters with, "Do you think for one minute I actually enjoyed being in the back seat with you?"

Cary defends Rosalind's attack against his acting ability
"Are you putting me on? Can't act? Moi? Can the devil make hair? Can a mother duck? Can a horse fly? Can a bill fold? Can you tune a fish? Huh?"

The argument continues in the car.
Another argument erupts in the car with poor Boz trapped in between.

Cary and Rosalind doing what they do best.
Business as usual, the duo just never shuts up.

Cary talks to the show's producer while Rosalind looks on
Cary on the phone with his series' producer while seizing the opportunity to once again seize his lovely partner.

Rosalind is in Cary's face once again
Cary: "Rosalind, what are you foaming about? Your chest is swelling and everything. Not that I mind."

Cary pops up with a Motown tune
Cary's attempt at a distraction during the shootout...he breaks into "The Tracks of My Tears," but not for long as the bullets whizzing past him cause him to retreat behind the trash cans.
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Riptide's "Moonlighting" Parody, "If You Can't Beat 'Em, Join 'Em"
Written by: Babs Greyhosky & Tom Blomquist

This parody of "Moonlighting" drew quite a bit of press attention at the time, with both Entertainment Tonight and the Los Angeles Times running features on the episode. Click here to read the text of the LA Times article.

In a salute to their former prime-time competition, the Riptide detectives are "Moonlighting" as consultants for a TV detective show, whose bickering costars must follow Cody, Nick and Murray (Boz) on a real case. The reason for a "Moonlighting" fan to watch this is simple: the jokes poking fun at 'Moonlighting' are funny, the whole situation is clever, there are also plenty of television industry in-jokes, and the "Riptide" writers pretty well nail all the main ML conventions. Not only are we amused by the ML parody, but this is a very clever "clip" show that demonstrates fairly well how the plots and situations of Riptide were as equally convoluted and humorous as those on "Moonlighting." Not that we find the two guest stars to be look alikes for Maddie and David nor do they have anywhere near the level of required sexual chemistry for the Blue Moon duo, but we do follow the parody points really well and LOVE what the Riptide writers did here.

NEW! Riptide star Thom Bray tells us of another connection between Moonlighting and Riptide: "Glenn Caron and I were (and still are) very close friends; in fact, he was an usher at my wedding."

The "Riptide" guest stars who played the two battling detectives in the "Moonlighting" parody.
Annette McCarthy as Rosalind Grant
Annette McCarthy as Rosalind Grant
Richard Greene as Cary Russell
Richard Greene as Cary Russell
Get it? Switch the characters' last names and you get Rosalind Russell and Cary Grant, two of the greatest screwball comedy the top of their game in Howard Hawks' "His Girl Friday."

When watching the episode, we made a quick list of the many Moonlighting references/jokes.
  • A joke is made about the opulent Beverly Hills offices and designer wardrobes for two struggling detectives.
  • The two know absolutely nothing about being detectives.
  • The series scripts are discussed as having ridiculous plots and lame cases with nonsensical clues to solve them.
  • One very prominent transition scene involves showing feet walking.
  • The lead actress (Rosalind) is always filmed with high filter which is really exaggerated in this parody.
  • The egotistical, loudmouthed lead actor (Cary) has a receding hairline and always assumes a "cooler than cool" stance in scenes. He also talks using his hands a lot and wears his watch on his right wrist (even though the actor playing Cary is clearly right-handed).
  • Rosalind is a former recognized TV star who was recently on a failed series and is now struggling to make a comeback.
  • Cary is a typical New York theater actor with a snob attitude about TV work. He wants to make movies. He sees himself as being a BIG STAR one day and makes a reference to "when I do Johnny."
  • Rosalind constantly wears tennis shoes with her expensive silk pastel color-coordinated designer outfits.
  • Cary wears Raybans a lot and Italian designer double-breasted suits with expensive Italian leather loafers.
  • Rosalind has scenes always showing off her physical attributes and is stereo-typically a dumb blonde and referred to as a wooden actress--but boy what legs.
  • Cary's constant verbal word play, "Can a mother duck? Can a horse fly? Can a bill fold?"
  • Cary sits on the edge of furniture constantly...Rosalind's desk, arms of couches, against credenzas, etc.
  • Cary is always flirting, touching and coming on to Rosalind, and she is always shutting him down.
  • Rosalind acts like an icy, cold bitch toward Cary. She always refers to him impersonally by his last name "Russell" instead of by his first name.
  • Cary calls Rosalind "Blondie" once or twice.
  • The couple argue all the time. They are shown several times right in each others' faces and in one scene they really get into it while riding in a car.
  • One scene finds Cary and Russell all tangled up all over each other as is typical on "Moonlighting" which gives Cary the opportunity to make a very suggestive remark to Rosalind.
  • In one scene, Cary attempts to distract the gunmen firing on the group by popping up from behind a trashcan as he launches into a Motown song and dance (Tracks of My Tears).
  • There is also a reference to Cary thinking himself to be another Bogart, which obviously refers to the tabloid comment about the real actor (Willis) being parodied here.
  • In yet another joke based on a tabloid-reported rumor about Moonlighting set difficulties, at several places in the episode Cary criticizes the quality of his series' scripts and the lines written for him.
  • In an obvious nod to the tabloid rumors about the real couple (Cybill & Bruce), the Riptide boys point out that the two should leave personal feelings out of their work.
In addition this parody also pokes fun at the TV industry and especially detective shows with such choice bits as:
  • Several jokes poking fun at actors as they have to know their "motivation"; they need stand-ins and doubles all the time; they have some convoluted method to their acting; they see themselves as serious, great actors; and they blame their agents for everything that goes wrong.
  • The TV industry fares no better as we are shown cheap looking cardboard props, the director is a bellowing hothead, the producer delegates everything to the assistant producer, the crew constantly complains and then breaks for lunch at every opportunity, and the network seems to not care about anything but ratings. Also while on the set everyone trips over the camera tracking that is in place.
  • Nearly every stereotypical plot of the detective show genre is marched out here: detectives go to someone's house/business to question them and have to let themselves in by some method, a car blows up, a hitman is shown targeting a victim from across the street, there is a window pane with a bullet hole through it, they have a chase scene or two, a dead body falls out of a closet/doorway, somehow the bad guys are involved with the mob, there is a crowd gunfight and no one gets injured, and of course the police show up at the very end just in the nick of time and arrest the bad guys, hauling them off to jail.

To get a feel for this totally fun parody, here are select moments from the "Riptide" script

"If You Can't Beat 'Em, Join 'Em"


We have come upon a scene being filmed where the two actors/stars of the TV series, ROSALIND GRANT and CARY RUSSELL, are standing over a dead body in an opulent office setting. Rosalind is blonde and attractive, dressed to the nines in a beautiful silk skirt and blouse (a bit low-cut) and a pair of Reebok tennis shoes. (PRODUCTION NOTE: Rosalind will always be filmed with a high filter on all of her closeups.) Cary has on a double-breasted suit and is holding a strand of blonde hair that he and Rosalind appear very interested in. Both stand over the body in a heavy discussion.

[From the same scene on the TV series set:]

CODY (looking around): You know, there is one thing I'm kind of puzzled at -- I thought you said this series was about two struggling detectives who can barely make ends meet?

CARY: Yeah. Isn't that novel?

CODY: Well, then how is it you can afford such nice clothes? And this office -- I mean, it would cost a fortune to rent and furnish a place like this.

CARY: Hey, come on -- you think people in Nebraska want to watch a show about two people who dress like slobs and live on a boat? Give me a break.

Nick and Cody exchange dubious looks.


Five pairs of feet: two pairs in deck shoes, one in scuffed up oxfords, one in designer loafers, and one in Reebok tennis shoes. As the camera PANS UP the legs, we find:


walking down a street with some office buildings. Rosalind and Cary follow our guys, who are checking addresses on the buildings for Myron's office.

CARY: Okay, this is exciting. We're going to meet our client. It's all starting to feel real to me now. No more of that television nonsense. This is life: the danger, the suspense, possible death lurking behind every corner.

Cary grabs Rosalind in a passionate hug. Our guys keep walking on ahead.

CARY: Let's make love now before it's too late.

ROSALIND (shoves his back): Are you crazy? I have a lot more I'd rather do with those five minutes.

[A car has exploded and everyone has ducked for cover.]

Nick, Cody, and Boz slowly appear from their respective hiding places. The car burns nearby. (There is no sign of either Rosalind or Cary)....

We hear:

ROSALIND (O.S.): Get your hand off me!


They're tangled in an unnatural body knot in the back seat. He's on top -- but all we can really see is a mass of arms, legs, feet, and material from her dress.

CARY: That's not my hand.

She struggles to get out. Not an easy task.

ROSALIND: You are disgusting, Russell! Do you know that?

CARY: Disgusting? Rosalind, listen. Do you think for one minute I actually enjoyed being in the back seat with you?

She pointedly removes her purse strap from around his neck.

CARY: Do you think I liked being on top of you, our hearts pounding in erotic syncopation, your creamy white thighs draped across my chest...

ROSALIND: You're a pervert.

Meanwhile Myron has been admiring Rosalind. He smiles and offers his hand.

MYRON: So, these are your visitors? Miss Grant, I don't believe I've had the pleasure...

CARY: Not many guys have.

Rosalind gives him a sharp elbow. He gasps.

NICK: Look, is everybody all right here?

ROSALIND (O.S.): Oh, no...!

Everyone turns towards her.

ROSALIND: Will you look at this...

As we follow her look downward:


And what a leg it is. Her hand gently strokes a run in her nylon.

ROSALIND (O.S.): ...These were brand new stockings...


all staring at her leg.

ROSALIND: And now I've got a run in them.

Awkward silence. She glances up to notice them watching her. They snap out of it.

[A scene ensues where the group is being fired upon by the hitman coming after Myron.]

CARY: That was a real bullet!

NICK: Everybody stay here. (to Cary) Sorry we didn't have time to call in your stunt man first.

[Later on the Riptide, the detectives are gathered while Boz runs a computer check on the persons Myron is associated with now. Cary & Rosalind are off camera, but present as the ensuing conversation will prove.]

CODY: I have never seen anybody spend more time on the phone than Rosalind and Cary. Who could they possibly talk to this much?

NICK: What are you asking me for? I don't understand those people.

CARY (O.S.) No! I don't believe it!

The boys turn to see: CARY entering with a briefcase phone in his ear.

CARY: How'd this happen?

He hangs up -- and looks like he just lost his best friend.

BOZ: Cary, what's wrong?

CARY: It's the worst. The absolute worst. (then:) The pilot for our series sold. We're on the fall schedule.

A beat. The boys are totally confused. Boz blows his nose.

CODY: Cary, isn't that good news?

NICK: You're going to star in a TV series, right?

CARY: Yeah, but I want to do movies, man. I just did the pilot for the money. I never thought the network would buy the stupid thing.

He holds a script in his hand with revulsion.

CARY: Now I've actually got to be in twenty-two of these turkeys. And what if its a hit?

He drops the script on the table and walks out, miserable.

NICK: I don't get it, Cody. The guy just found out he's making thirty grand a week and he's complaining?

BOZ: Well, I can understand it on an artistic level. Did either of you happen to read this script? "Dead Men Don't Floss"? There doesn't seem to be any plot whatsoever. And the things they expect the actors to say! [Note: "Dead Men Don't Floss" is the title of a "Riptide" episode that aired a few weeks before this episode and was was also written by Tom Blomquist, Babs Greyhosky et al.]

[Later in the episode it has been discovered that Myron is in business with an ex-con bookie who is the one trying to have him killed.]

CARY: Great! What a movie this would make! Get me George Raft right away. A sleazy lawyer like Myron Bell gets in dutch with a mob controlled bookie...

ROSALIND (to the boys): And he thinks the plots they write for him are dumb.

CARY: You don't think this story's light years better than that TV garbage?

Boz is completely into Cary's story.

BOZ: Is it?

CARY: Is a root square? Is a thread bare...?

ROSALIND covers her ears and makes for the door.

ROSALIND: Russell, I can't stand it!

CARY: ...Is a penthouse suite? Huh? Is it? All I want is an honest answer.

As the boys exchange looks and follow them out the door:



ROSALIND'S VOICE: I'm not listening to you, anymore. No way!


The boys are overwhelmed by the energy of the argument. Boz is literally caught in the middle of Cary and Rosalind's battle.

CARY: How can you say that?

ROSALIND: Because you're an overbearing, egotistical, goofball. You think you're a laugh riot, but you aren't even moderately funny. You think you're a ladies' man, but a woman would have to be hallucinating to find you appealing.

CARY: Other than that, I really turn you on, right?

ROSALIND: You drive me crazy!!

CARY: Let the record show that Cody's driving, not me.

CODY/NICK: Enough already!!

BOZ: You know, perhaps it's none of my business, but it seems to me that the thing you people need to do is learn to keep your personal feelings separate from your work.

NICK: In other words, stop this constant bickering!

[When it is discovered that Myron needs to pay off $20,000 fee to get the hit on him stopped, Cary comes up with the idea that the money can be raised by selling the story to TV so he picks up the phone to call his series producer.]

BOZ: Boy, this is really neat of you to do this for Myron, Cary.

CARY (dialing the phone): No problem, Murray. Rosalind and I are glad to help. (into phone) Jim Schneider, please. Cary Russell calling.

ROSALIND just stares at Cary in disbelief.

ROSALIND: I don't believe you, Russell. For once there are no jokes, no false macho bravado. What happened?

CARY: I don't know. You think I'm coming down with something? (then, into the phone) Hello...Jimmy? Listen, Rosalind and I are having a fantastic time with these detectives. And have we got a story for the series...! (beat) They what? When? No...

CARY'S face drops. The color drains. His eyes register pain.

CARY: Sure we'll have lunch.

CARY hangs up. Everybody gathers around.

ROSALIND: Russell?

CARY: The network said the pilot didn't test well. They're replacing us with two new actors. (to Rosalind) We've been fired, blondie. The honeymoon is over.

Silence. Off Rosalind's stunned reaction.

MYRON: Hey...who cares about you two? What about my twenty grand?

BOZ sneezes, and we:



Over this shot we HEAR:

ROSALIND'S VOICE: Are you satisfied, Russell?


Our three guys are slumped on the couch watching Rosalind and Cary face off. Myron sits on the steps, lamenting the fact that he's going to die.

ROSALIND: This is what you wanted! And now you have it. But why'd you have to bring me down with you? I need the job.

CARY: Rosalind, what are you foaming about? Your chest is swelling and everything. Not that I mind.

ROSALIND: I'm "foaming" over the fact that you didn't want to do this series and have managed to get both of us thrown off it.

MYRON (from his corner): Does anybody care that I'm going to die?


CARY (continues): Me? I got us thrown off the series? You think this is my fault?

ROSALIND (trying to mimic): Do bears be? Do bees bare?


NICK and CODY look strangely at each other.

CODY: That doesn't sound right...

MYRON: They'll probably stick me in cememt shoes. I hate cement shoes.

BOZ: You know, Cary. Miss Grant is right. Even I heard you say you didn't want to get stuck on a series because it would interfere with your movie career.

ROSALIND: Movie career?! He sold tickets to the Hollywood Wax Museum.

CARY: Excellent training for having to work opposite you. It's your acting that got us canned, Rosalind. If there was a market for mannequins in tennis shoes, you'd be a hit.

ROSALIND: I'm about to make a hit right now...

And as Rosalind pulls back her fist to clobber Cary, Nick and Cody jump up and intervene. Each holds only Rosalind or Cary as the two sides stare at each other. Boz stands in the middle, his arms outstretched to keep them apart.

CODY/NICK: Enough! No hitting! Stop this right now!

Silence. Myron stands.

MYRON: Here. You can hit me. I'd rather be unconscious when I'm killed.

NICK: All right, everybody calm down. Rosalind, you sit over there, and Cary sits over here.

Nick points to chairs across from each other. Rosalind and Cary settle into them as Myron and Boz also sit back down. Nick and Cody remain standing.

CODY: No wonder the network wanted other actors. Who'd want to do a series with two people who insult each other all day long?

NICK: Yeah. Like it or not, children, you're a team. Just like us. And teamwork requires support, even when you don't agree or when things don't work out.

BOZ: We've certainly had our share of troubles and rocky times. But the bottom line is that when the dust has settled, we're all on the same side.

CODY: That's what makes us successful.

NICK: And if you'd show a little more understanding for each other, it might've made you successful, too.

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This section was only made possible by the generosity of Tom Blomquist in sharing his past work with me. Tom is a fine writer, a very funny, and super nice man who is a valued friend of mine from my association with "Christy" (through my other series fan site). He volunteered the script copy, the episode tape and the Entertainment Tonight segment tape for me to use here. He also pointed me in the direction to locate the press on this. Thank you, Tom. You are one of the finest individuals I have encountered during my forays into the mad, mad, mad world of the television industry. Also thanks to Ms. Greyhosky for her valuable feedback and her talent in co-writing this episode with Tom.

~ Webmaster, Cindy K.~


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