Pilot Review: Moonlight

I really wanted to hate this show. I mean come on, it’s a blatant rip off of Angel – a good vampire working as a private investigator who falls in love with a mortal? It’s even set in LA! It irritates me that this show should be on air when Angel is not.

But I kinda liked it.

I’m not saying it’s a good show, in many ways its pretty poor, but it just had something about it that made me like it. It’s not Angel, it’s not nearly as polished, funny, touching or deep, but for a first episode it doesn’t do too badly. I found myself enjoying the episode, the little elements of style to the direction, the occasional flashes of humour and the twists on familiar vampire law.

The biggest failing of the show is the lead character, Mick St John the vampire. The show heavily uses voice over which is a dangerous story telling technique at the best of times. If you’re going to have the ability to hear the main character’s thoughts, it should give you an insight into his character, not just provide a convenient exposition drone. But the problem is that it’s tricky to see what the main character’s character is. He doesn’t seem happy, but he certainly doesn’t have the brooding down to the art that Angel managed. Alex O’Loughlin is a pretty inexperienced actor and I’m concerned he cannot carry this role.

Sophia Myles however is experienced (The Girl in the Fireplace from Doctor Who for a start) and very watchable. She manages to be everything in moderation – cute, funny, confused, smart and just thoroughly entertaining to watch. Likewise Jason Dohring, who I loved in Veronica Mars here plays an older (500 years or so), wiser, but no less crazy and edgy character. Even the bit parts of the technical guy, the morgue guy and the editor jump off the screen. All this sadly highlighting the lack of depth and energy to the lead.

The plot itself was stunningly unoriginal, I think vampire worshipping cults are pretty much a staple of procedural dramas and this one wasn’t handled with anywhere near as much style as something like CSI can pull off. It’s fairly obviously going to be a monster/criminal of the week style show so it’s going to work a bit harder to create interesting storylines

Just to make sure that you are in no doubt of this show’s “inspiration” here’s a bit of trivia for you. The actor playing the vampire cult leader is not a first timer. He’s played Dracula not once, but twice! Once in Dark Prince: The True Story of Dracula (I hope you mentally used a suitable deep voice in your head for that) and once in bloody Buffy! Yes, the show that is blatantly stealing its entire concept from Angel is in fact stealing the casting from Angel’s parent show! How cheap is that?!

So, much as I’d rather be watching this show written by Joss Whedon and starring David Boreanaz, I have to admit, it’s not the train wreck I was expecting, even hoping for. The lead actor is going to have to wake up and show some charisma and the writers and directors are going to need to do a better job if they want it to be anything other than a brainless but entertaining show. However if play to the strengths of the supporting cast and cut back on the Evenescence on the soundtrack, they might just have something. It won’t be Angel, but it might be a resounding ‘ok’.

Unfortunately it screams “mid-season cancelation” to me. It’s on CBS which has a crowded schedule with CSI and all its well produced, polished variations and clones and it’s in the death slot of 9pm on a Friday. I’ll be keeping an eye on this show, but will hold back on watching more episodes until I know if it’s going to survive.

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