All this week, now one month into the Fall TV season, BuddyTV takes a hard look at the new shows to determine which ones we were right about, and which ones have surprised us the most, both positively and negatively.
I have been a devotee of vampires and vampire-related television for a very long time now. I’ve watched every single episode of Buffy the Vampire Slayer multiple times and can sing along with the bulk of the insanely genius musical episode. (“This is my verse, hello!”) I even line up at my local comic book store the first Wednesday of every month to get the newest issue of the Buffy Season 8 comic book that is published by Dark Horse. And I loved Angel too. While it faltered a bit toward the middle and end, it had some great moments like the time Angel got turned into a muppet. So, when I heard that there would be a new show called Moonlight about a vampire who’s also a private investigator, I really wanted it to work
I had seen the premieres for almost all the new shows except for Moonlight, so when I placed Moonlight at the number ten spot, it was largely a matter of faith. But come on, it was about a vampire private investigator, and it also stars Jason Dohring, recently of Veronica Mars. What could possibly go wrong with this show? Well, seeing as Moonlight has slid to number 22 on my list, ahead of only Back to You, Big Shots and Carpoolers, plenty.
First, there’s the unappealing lead. Aussie Alex O’Loughlin plays Mick St. John, a vampire private investigator who has sworn to protect innocent victims rather than sucking on their blood. Much like Angel Investigations, he helps the helpless. Unlike Angel, Mick has neither charm nor charisma, and not even so much as a badass, black trenchcoat. And that mullet in the making is doing him no favors. Also unlike Angel, Mick has no reason to help anyone. There’s no gypsy who cursed him with a soul. There’s no reason why he should feel anything but hunger when contemplating humans. It’s a cliché to ask an actor what his character’s motivation is, but really, what is Mick’s motivation?
Well, naturally, there’s a girl. Mick wants to become a better person, er, vampire, to impress a girl. When Spike fell in love with Buffy, he triggered a series of events which, in my opinion, brought about the downfall of Buffy the Vampire Slayer. Moonlight is unabashedly starting out with this improbable premise. Vampires are soulless creatures of the night who relish in evil and don’t care a whit about what a mere mortal girl thinks of them. The girl question is plucky online investigative reporter Beth Turner, played by Sophia Myles. Mick saved Beth from being turned into a vampire when she was a small child, and ever since, has been following her to protect her again if she needs help. They meet in the premiere episode and team up to solve crimes. Although Beth is in a relationship, there is an unspoken attraction between the two of them immediately upon meeting. Well, this is probably what’s written on the script because you couldn’t tell from watching the two of them that there’s supposed to be anything going on there. Where’s the tension, the witty repartée? And as a reporter, Smallville‘s Chloe Sullivan runs circles around her.
Then, there’s the bastardization of the vampire mythology. I can take certain tweaks here and there, but the show has drastically altered the way a vampire can die. Stakes don’t do anything, and sunlight doesn’t kill. The only thing that works is decapitation and burning. In last Friday’s episode, entitled “Fever,” Mick walked for an entire day under a blazing hot desert sun, with not even a parasol to protect his pallor, and all he got was a little bit woozy. Shouldn’t he have, like, died? At least in Blade, the vampires had to wear massive amounts of sunscreen.
The complete lack of chemistry between any of the characters onscreen, the butchering of the vampiric nature, as well as a parade of uninteresting villains has turned Moonlight into something even Jason Dohring himself could not convince me to watch. And, judging from the way he phones in his lines, I’m not quite sure he would watch it either.
-Debbie Chang, BuddyTV Staff Writer
(Image courtesy of CBS)