Monday, October 1, 2007

MOONLIGHT: "There's No Such Thing As Vampires"

Hmmm.. this is another one that has me sitting on the fence. I know a lot of people are calling it an ANGEL rip-off, but it actually has more in common with the lesser-known FOREVER KNIGHT (an early 90s TV series featuring detective Nicholas Knight, an ancient vampire fighting for justice in present-day Toronto, Canada; Hey, it lasted 3 seasons and the pilot featured Rick Springfield! "Don't Talk To Strangers", indeed).

MOONLIGHT follows Mick St. John, an immortal vampire and private investigator - and his struggle to exist after he was bitten 60 years ago by his vampire bride on their wedding night. The show takes on a very old school approach; It's a basic late 80s/early 90s style detective show featuring a good-looking loner who helps those in need - with the vampire overlay. Nothing incredibly new here. So really, the show has to rely on smart writing, good acting and a unique style.

The series is evalated by lead vamp, Alex O'Loughlin, who does a neat job as the brooding blooddrinker. Sophia Myles impressed me as Beth; In a lesser actress, the character would seem wafer-thin. Myles, so far, is a decent female lead. Jason Dohring (of VERONICA MARS (?)fame) is passable as Joseph, the vamp who sees humanity as his own personal Starbucks. I'm a big VERONICA MARS fan, but let's be honest... that show will never be known for its stellar acting ensemble. I'm just seeing Logan Echolls as a bloodsucker here.

The writing may be a bit of a problem. I easily pegged the teacher assistant as the murderer about 29 minutes into the episode. I love play-fair mysteries, so I was a bit disappointed at the ease of this one. My much-mourned VERONICA MARS featured clever-twisty done-in-one-episode mysteries. If MOONLIGHT could do that with vampires, It'd easily be a favorite. The backstory faired better, with the past connection between Mick and Beth. Still, that "watching over Beth" for the past 20 years was a tad creepy since she is the new love interest. I had "Celine Dion's creepy old manager now husband" shudders.

This is a slight pet peeve, but I also don't like all the nefangled (newfanged?) vampire stories that play fast and loose with the rules. I can handle one or two exceptions, but this show had quite a few. They don't turn into bats or rodents. They don't fly. Sunlight doesn't kill and they can walk in the daylight. Crosses are a no-go. Garlic is great on pizza but doesn't even give heartburn. I'm not a fan or so MANY exceptions; I mean, it gets to a point of "why do a vampire show?" [sarcasm on/]They kept the teeth and blood-drinking at least.[/sarcasm off]

I think the biggest strike against the show is that it doesn't feel particularly new. A show like BURN NOTICE (which, by the way, check it out on USA) took that "80s detective loner" convention and gave it a modern twist with its style and sarcastic voiceover. MOONLIGHT desperately needs something to set it apart from a stock night-time detective show circa 1992 syndication. Other than the website reporting, you might even think this pilot was sitting on a dusty shelf as a first draft for FOREVER KNIGHT. It needs style. It needs a modern edge. This really is an old school show about (their version) of vampires.

I'll give it 2 more episodes before I decide whether it gets a TiVo season pass. It's well acted and competently written, but I'm not sure if it has anything new to say. And that may result in a ratings-stake through the heart. Forget crosses... are their vampires immune to Nielsons?

No comments: