Previously on Moonlight
Moonlight: isn’t that just a Forever Knight rip-off? Or does it rip off Angel more? After all, didn’t David Greenwalt work on both Angel and Moonlight? Truth is, Moonlight is its own show, complete with an original mythology and a fresh take on the very popular vampiric anti-hero as romantic lead. Are there similarities to other TV series? Certainly, but there are bound to be similarities between any shows that revolve around vampires, solving crimes, or most especially, vampires solving crimes. And yet, was there talk about NCIS borrowing on the same premise as CSI? Sure there was, but people made room for both. With all the procedurals, medical shows, and soap opera style prime time dramas that borrow from common sources, don’t we have room for one more vampire detective? I think so, but then I’m partial to the fangs.
Those fangs are the reason that we’re hearing so much about whether or not this show is an original. But in a lot of cases that’s where the comparisons end. Mick St. John isn’t another white knight charging into danger in order to redeem him from the hundreds of years he spent as a bad guy. Mick is a young guy who is still in touch with who he was before he ever got ‘turned’. He’s more man than vampire in many ways and it’s reflected in his general lack of menace. Angel and Nick Knight were heroes who were running head first into the face of hell to make up for evil done at their hands. Mick St. John is a cynical detective with trust issues revolving around a woman, who is just trying to feel his way through an unlife he never wanted. He’s more Phillip Marlowe than Nick Knight and he’s more Bogey than Boreanaz.
Starting with episode one, we are told that this show is as much about a good detective story as it is about the lifestyles of the dead and fabulous. Like the movie Out of the Past, this show contains a lot of the film noir hallmarks, such as a jaded private detective as the male lead, a femme fatale in the form of Mick’s ex-wife who made him into a vampire, a large number of flashbacks in order to explain our protagonist’s motivations, voiceover narration that puts us in Mick’s head, and a sort of dark ambience that’s lightened by a bit of flirty, sexy banter with the female lead. These are elements that aren’t entirely missing from our other vampire detective shows, but they aren’t there in quite the same way. These little touches mark not only a stylistic difference, but a difference in story and characterization as well.
Each episode revolves around a ‘mystery of the week’ that serves as the outline for telling the story of the vampire detective, Mick St. John (Alex O’Loughlin), and up and coming reporter, Beth Turner (Sophia Myles). The show is cast quite well and the secondary characters are sometimes as interesting, if not more so, than our two stars. I confess, I originally started watching this show to see Jason Dohring as Josef Konstantin and referred to it as the ‘Logan the Vampire Show’, named after Dohring’s character on the cancelled noir inspired Veronica Mars. The only thing that’s disappointed me about Josef so far is how underutilized he’s been. Writers, I humbly request more Josef please. He’s the vampire who lends menace and shows us that more malevolent side of the blood drinkers. He’s the external example of Mick’s own dark half, just as Beth is the external example of Mick’s humanity.
So far, we’ve seen Mick’s entrance into the vampire world as he was made on his wedding night by his new bride, Coraline (Shannyn Sossamon). We’ve seen how he was prior to deciding to use his vampiric abilities for good as the boon companion of Josef, drinking from attractive women in dark clubs and pursuing his thirst, versus a moral code. But most importantly, it’s been revealed how that all changed. Through flashback, we were shown how Mick was hired to find a lost girl, only to discover that his ‘maker’ was the one who stole her. Coraline took his wedding night promise to love her forever quite literally, and took the girl to give Mick the family they were supposed to have together and bring him back to her. Mick not only set his wife on fire, but he saved the girl and watched her as she grew up to make sure she was safe. In an unsurprising plot twist, that girl grew up to be the lively reporter, Beth Turner.
These first four mysteries have drawn Beth further into Mick’s world and vice versa. Beth has seen what Mick is first hand and even saved his life by allowing him to feed. Mick may have saved Beth as a child and even saved her from the homicidal mythology student in the first episode, but she’s saved his life twice now. She first saved him from the vengeful sociopath who learned about Mick’s vampiric nature and then later from the effects of the sun. In this mythos, vampires can walk in the sun; they simply are made sick by it. The two are shown to be equals in so many ways. They are both fiercely independent and headstrong and drawn to each other, even though they’re both trying their best to avoid it. At the end of episode four, Mick just fed from Beth to save his life and now he’s avoiding her in the aftermath of the intimacy of the act.
Yes, there’s romance in them there hills. Not that it was really subtle for anyone who has seen the commercials that depict a fan film type montage of romantic moments set to a Celine Dion song. CBS, I implore you, make better commercials for this show. And if you use another Celine Dion song, I may have to boycott the show on principle. Don’t do this to me! It would be cruel, because I like this show. Is it perfect? No, it’s far from perfect. The special effects are truly ‘campy’ at best, and that’s being generous. The writing has its bad spots and the first episode has some really dreadful dialog in it. But overall, this show has a lot to commend it. The acting is good. It has good ambience. And most importantly, it has a story worth following even if some of the elements are familiar. Move over Angel. Move over Nick Knight. Make room for Mick St. John. He may just out-brood you both.
Note to the Writers: Why would you name him Mick St. John of all things? Aren’t you just inviting comparisons to Nick Knight? Foolish screenwriters, this is a prime example of why you should think about what you’re naming a character. I smack you for just plain old not thinking it through.