“Jericho” fans seemed bewildered when, after all the hype their show received upon its last-second reprieve from cancellation, its second season didn’t find a huge surge in viewership. They shouldn’t have been. There have been precious few occasions when series have been saved from oblivion and suddenly had the masses respond by saying, “Wow, you guys were right! This is awesome!” That’s just not how the mind of the average TV viewer works. They’re not thinking, “Say, if all these people like the show that much, there must be something to it.” Obsessive fans freak out the average TV viewers, and their actions generally only serve to convince Joe Average that this show, whatever it may be, can’t possibly live up to the hype that’s being heaped upon it, and since it can’t, then why bother tuning in?
But here’s a dirty little secret for you: the minds of critics have been known to work the exact same way.
“Moonlight” seemed like a perfectly viable concept when it was originally pitched by CBS. Certainly, “Angel” fans were immediately on edge when word got out about this new series about a vampire private detective…and so, for that matter, were the rabid “Forever Knight” aficionados… but, still, it was going to be produced by David Greenwalt, who had actually worked on “Angel,” so there was hope that the vampire mythos would at least be done right. But then things got a little dodgy on the creative end, with cast and creators being switched out left and right, including the aforementioned Mr. Greenwalt, and critics were left lingering in wait for a pilot episode that took forever to come to fruition. Once it did, we were grumpy and, frankly, we just couldn’t see what all the fuss was about…but, dear God, those Alex O’Loughlin fans sure as hell could. They attacked in droves, criticizing my opinion of the series while invariably finding a way to mention how incredibly hot O’Loughlin was in the role of Mick St. John (the aforementioned vampire), yet they rarely offered much in the way of reasons beyond his sex appeal for me to give the show a second chance.
So I didn’t…until now.
After having watched all sixteen episodes of “Moonlight: The Complete Series,” my official opinion is this: it’s okay. I have to believe that many of the declarations that it was “the best series ever” were based on more a combination of an alright show and a profound hormonal reaction to O’Loughlin, just as many of the dismissals were from people who called it an “Angel” rip-off without ever bothering to actually watch the show. Granted, it doesn’t come anywhere close to bettering that particular entry of the Whedon-verse, but if you’re looking for a tale of life, death, romance, and bloodsucking, it’ll do in a pinch.
Mick St. John is a 90-year-old vampire who looks suspiciously like he’s in his early 30s, which is about how old he was when he was turned into a vampire by his wife, Coraline (Shannyn Sossamon). They managed to get over that hump, but they hit a rough patch about 22 years ago when he, uh, killed her. Or did he? The answer to that question gets a little hazy during the course of the series, and if you haven’t watched it yet, it’s best that you remain in the dark on the matter. Let’s just say that Mick is single when the series begins, though he soon finds himself attracted to a reporter named Beth Turner (Sophia Miles) with whom he has an interesting history, even though she isn’t immediately aware of it. He also has a best friend in the form of fellow vamp Josef Kostan (Jason Dohring), who’s made himself a small fortune over the years as a businessman but still has people saying, “Josef, I’m looking at you, but I’m still thinking of Logan Echolls.” (Actually, no-one on the show ever says that…but you’ll be thinking it.)
There are a lot of bits about “Moonlight” that are a lot of fun, such as Mick’s regular visits to the coroner, who helps him on his cases and is also a regular source of blood when he needs it, and Josef’s insistence on being a vampire’s vampire by regularly having women up to his apartment to provide him with a quick blood fix. The best episodes of the series tend to revolve around moments from Mick’s past, but none are quite so effective as “What’s Left Behind,” where he gets caught up in a case involving a child who may be his grandson and we learn about the time he spent as a soldier during World War II. Although it would be easy to criticize the show for unabashedly setting aside so many of the traditional vampire trademarks, you can’t blame them for trying to create their own mythology.
The show does have a weakness, however, and that’s its tendency to fall back on clichéd romantic scenarios and dialogue when dealing with the relationship between Mick and Beth. To be fair, there’s a profound exception to this rule in “Love Lasts Forever,” which contains a full-fledged holy-shit moment involving Beth’s boyfriend that changes the game for the remainder of the series. For the most part, however, you may well find yourself muttering, “Give me a break.” Unless, of course, you’ve fallen under the spell of Alex O’Loughlin, in which case you’ll swoon, which is just as the producers had intended.
So that’s the long and short of it: “Moonlight” isn’t bad, but it could’ve been better. Did it deserve to go on for another season? Truthfully, if I was a network executive, I would’ve probably just flipped a coin, since I would’ve been comfortable with either outcome. Mick St. John’s adventures were a pleasant diversion, but if there are no more, so be it. That’s my position on the matter…and may the Alex O’Loughlin fans have mercy on my soul. (They won’t, though. They don’t like me very much.)
Special Features: Warner Brothers deserves an earful from the fans…and rightfully so…for putting out this set without including so much as a single item of bonus material. No making-of featurette, no bloopers, no deleted scenes, no audition tapes, no commentaries. Not even a fond farewell to the show from the cast and creators. Why, exactly, did this set take so long to come out, then?