TV Review: Moonlight

Moonlight

I hadn’t noticed until I was editing these reviews that I tend to review TV shows which were cancelled after one season. Moonlight, joins Do No Harm, The Tomorrow People, No Ordinary Family and Good Game as shows which I have reviewed, and in my opinion were cancelled before their time.

I would not say that Moonlight adds much to the overall vampire lore, I mean I can think of three shoes off my head with a similar concept, a vampire, usually at odds with his vampiric nature working with or for law enforcement, those being Forever Knight, Angel and Blood Ties. But despite being fairly unoriginal in terms of it’s core concept, it’s still a good show, with a strong cast of characters and an engaging story.

Apparently during development, the main character was going to be called Mike Angel, however the producers, quite rightfully felt that this might related their show too much to Angel (another paranormal detective show, featuring a vampire), and thus Mick St. John (played by Alex O’Loughlin, known for his roles as Lieutenant Commander Steve McGarrett on the 2010 remake of Hawaii Five-0 and Dr. Andy Yablonski on Three Rivers) was born.

I mentioned up top that this has similarities to Forever Knight (a CBS detective drama which ran from 1992 to 1996) and their are certainly many overlaps between Moonlight and Forever Knight, I could easily consider Moonlight in fact to be a spiritual successor, especially since Forever Knight originated the sympathetic vampire detective trope in television which has since been featured and expanded upon in shows such Angel and Blood Ties and obviously, Moonlight. I think perhaps that Moonlight did have the edge slightly, due to better production values, and also because Mick St. John was a little less preachy, he had more edge than Nick Knight, who was unambiguously a sufferer of his condition.

So yeah, Mick St. John is a ‘sympathetic vampire detective’ but he’s not a relentless goody two shoes, he’s a good man, but he is a predator and he will kill to protect both himself and others when the situation calls for it, which subverts the character somewhat and in my opinion makes him more interesting, and ironically more human.

Just like in Twilight or The Vampire Diaries, we have our main vampire character attracted to a human, although I will say that unlike those examples, the female lead isn’t some neutral mask for the female audience to imprint themselves upon for the fantasy, the female lead Beth Turner (played by Sophia Myles, best known for her roles as Erika in Underworld, Darcy in Transformers: Age of Extinction, and Madame de Pompadour in the Doctor Who episode, The Girl in the Fireplace) has genuine character and depth, making her instantly more appealing. I will say though, whether they used to be human or not, surely considering they need to feed from humans, that at least to some vampires the idea of falling in love/being intimate with a human is like a human falling in love with a cow, fundamentally we are food for vampires, and for me that would be hard to ignore.

I do feel that Mick and Beth have excellent chemistry, I was ever so slightly creeped out that he’s known her since she was a kid, now as a vampire (admittedly a young one, considering he’s only 85 years old) it’s expected that most people you encounter will be younger than you, but what bugged me was he literally encounter her first as a child, saving her from his ex Coraline Duvall (played by Shannyn Sossamon, known for her roles, A Knight’s Tale, 40 Days and 40 Nights and The Rules of Attraction) who wanted to turn or eat the young Beth. He then kept tabs on her over the years, and eventually fell in love with her. In my opinion that seemed a little predatory, but in a completely different context to how I used it earlier in this review.

Moonlight also had some impressive cinematography which I felt added to the feel of the show, in particular we got to see a lot of nighttime Los Angeles, which is known as the city of angels, but if this show, Vampire: The Masquerade – Bloodlines and Angel just to name a few are to be believed, it’s also the city of vampires.

What surprised me most was that despite sometimes being heavy handed regarding some of the plot lines it still had the potential to catch me off guard. For example, you can tell from a mile off that the two main leads will get together, but through careful pacing, they don’t just hammer us in the face with the idea. Speaking of which, the ‘Vampire Face’ a staple of the genre, is surprisingly underplayed, in shows like Buffy, they wanted something more monstrous, similar to the classic vampire ‘Nosferatu’, and shows like Twilight, The Vampire Diaries and True Blood are more aimed at making vampire appear sexy, so their faces are far less prominent and obscuring, but Moonlight is surprisingly subdued in this regard. In fact it takes more of a cue from Being Human, which only really had fangs, and pitch black eyes to signify their vampire face. So yeah Moonlight’s vampire face is surprisingly understated.

Despite enjoying this show immensely, I kinda suspected this show was going to be cancelled, maybe I’ve just come to expect that when I get really into a show. I was however sure that it would become a cult classic and I guess I was proven right, because anyone who I know personally who has seen this show enjoyed it, and despite a critical reception that was mixed to poor, a lot of people, much like myself, really enjoyed it.

The best character on the show overall, happens to be one of the supporting cast, he’s Josef Kostan, a 400+ year old who acts as Mick’s friend and mentor, and following a brief period where he was temporarily human *spoiler* his second sire as a vampire. Josef is a great character, sometimes a friend, sometimes almost a father figure, but always effortlessly cool and he even has his moments of genuine depth that adds to his character.

I touched on her character above, but rounding off the core cast is Coraline, she was the vampire who initially turned Mick, and is herself a roughly 340 year old former courtesan from 18th century. At some point in the past prior the beginning of the show, she kidnapped, a young Beth and had plans to turn or kill her. Mick stopped her but she disappeared and was presumed dead, however as you can expect, not for long. She returns part way through the season, seemingly human and going by the name Morgan. I want to be honest though even though Shannyn Sossamon is an incredible acctress, I could totally have done without her character in the main narrative, she could have easily been an inciting incident for Mick and Beth first meeting, and turning Mick into a vampire in the first place and maybe been in a flashback or two, but I don’t really feel like she was absolutely needed.

So those are my thoughts, a show with strong casting, great visual design and an interesting story. Night or day I think you should give Moonlight a chance, so I will rate it 7/10.

 

First Published on: https://offtherecordblog.org/


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