Cultural Consumption: 1/2/24

Cultural Consumption: 1/2/24
Moonlighting S5 E1, "A Womb with a View"

Today's soundtrack comes to us courtesy of my brother Brian, who sent me a Bandcamp gift copy of Kyle Craft's Full Circle Nightmare for Christmas. It was released in 2018, but it's all new to me — and besides, from the production to the arrangements, this is a fairly timeless-sounding record anyway, a Technicolor swirl of sneering, swaggering rock 'n' roll that would sound just as home in a bar as it would in an arena. Picture, I dunno, Dylan and Ian Hunter having a baby and then asking Tom Waits and Cheap Trick to babysit every once in a while. There's a bit of a kitchen-sink edge to the production, but it's all stuff I like; with brass, piano, and Hammond at his back, Craft swings for the fences on track after track, and ends the album with an impressively high batting average. I shall be investigating further. In the meantime, dig this:

Kyle Craft, "Fever Dream Girl"

Watching: After taking a break for the holidays, I'm back to re-watching Moonlighting during my daily run. Picked back up with S5 E1, "A Womb with a View," otherwise known as the episode in which Maddie loses her baby. If you've seen it, you know it's a pretty wild tonal rollercoaster that goes from goofy comedy to sober drama and back again. The end result is extremely uneven, but it's also the type of television that no major network would have the guts to even attempt in 2023 — it takes no shortage of chutzpah to mash a full-fledged musical number, Bruce Willis in a diaper, graphic footage of the horrors of war, and a miscarriage into the same advertiser-supported hour. And it was the season opener, too!

I loved Moonlighting during its original run, and eagerly revisited it when the full-season DVD sets were released, but that was years ago, and in all honesty, I always skipped out on most of the David and Maddie-less episodes that bogged down the fourth season. By the time the show limped to its cancellation, it was no longer appointment viewing for me, so this is probably the first time every episode has had my full attention. I've learned a couple of things along the way: One, this is not a series that benefits from back-to-back viewing; two, the fourth season really isn't as bad as its reputation has always suggested.

To the first point, I have to admit that in retrospect, neither David nor Maddie are particularly likable people, and all their flaws are brought screaming to the forefront when you don't have to wait weeks for every new episode. Some of these feelings stem from the inescapable fact that portions of the series haven't aged well, but I also really tend to think that the intense anticipation created by Moonlighting's ever-tortured production schedule really helped ramp up investment in what was always a fundamentally unpleasant love story.

Long story short: I've been surprised by my negative response to some of this stuff, but I'll be sad when I finish this final season and it's time to say goodbye to these characters and their world all over again.

Reading: Still making my way through Thai Horse (see yesterday's post). Next up is the book William Diehl published following this one: 1990's 27 (later titled The Hunt), a World War II-era thriller about a Nazi spy and the broken-hearted American playboy on a mission to stop him.