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TV Review: Never Judge A Show by Its Pilot – Moonlight

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My first impression of Moonlight, a show about a vampire who works as a private detective, is that I've seen it before. Angel, Forever Knight and Nick Knight come to mind. The premise itself is like a vampire. It won't die and it keeps coming back.

I watched the pilot. We open with our vampire Mick St. John (Alex O'Loughlin) pretending to be interviewed on television. This vehicle is used to establish this show's vampire lore. They can't be killed by a stake through the heart but will die if their head gets cut off. Garlic tastes good on a pizza, but will not harm them. They can't turn into a bat. They can go out in the daytime and since we see his photo ID he can be photographed (digitally). I think that this drastic reinventing of vampire lore is enough to turn off many viewers.

Mick himself does not kill people. He has a vampire friend who works at the morgue and supplies him with blood from dead bodies. Mick's vampire confidante Josef Konstantin (Jason Dohring) works as a hedge fund trader. Josef likes fresh blood from a pretty girl’s arm. Mick uses his vampire senses (like Spidey senses) to solve cases.

The show looks like it is attempting a noir detective drama style (without the sax music). The case in the pilot involves the murder of a pretty girl. The puncture marks on her neck indicate a vampire is to blame. Web reporter Beth Turner (Sophia Myles) pursues the vampire angle and goes undercover in a vampire cult run by a college professor. Mick knows that this was not a real vampire killing and that the real killer is the college professor. All Mick has to do now is catch the killer and save Beth. We see through a series of flashbacks that Mick knew Beth when she was a little girl and his ex-wife (Shannyn Sossamon) wanted to turn the younger Beth into a vampire so they could be a family. So far I am not impressed but then again I might change my mind because I never judge a show by its pilot.

In the next episode a convicted killer, Lee Jay Spalding (Josh Wingate), has his conviction overturned and is released from prison. Spalding served 25 years for murdering his girlfriend and staging it to look like a suicide. Mick had helped the police prove that the suicide was staged. When Mick captured Spalding, Spalding learned that Mick was a vampire. Spalding then spends his sentence reading books on vampire lore as part of a plan to kill Mick when he gets out. Spalding's release is highly publicized with the publication of a book written by Beth's friend Julia Stephens (Lisa Sheridan). The book chronologs Spalding's version of what happened, thus casting Spalding as a good guy and Mick as a bad guy. To draw out Mick, Spalding kidnaps Julia. When Mick and Beth go to rescue Julia, Spalding shoots Mick in the back with silver buckshot. At the end of the episode, Beth learns that Mick is a vampire.

My thoughts about the show have not changed. The vampire lore has been overly tweaked. In the second episode Mick is shot with silver buckshot — isn't silver harmful to werewolves, not vampires? The look is too bright and hip to properly capture the style they are striving for (they really need the sax music). The show's creators need to study the style of the ill-fated NBC drama Raines. For a guy with detective skills and vampire abilities, Mick relies a lot on modern technology. There is a scene in the second episode where Mick sticks a GPS tracker on Julia's car. Most mortal private investigators prefer to trust their instincts over technology. Again, the premise has been done before, only better.

To quote Josef Konstantin: "Vampire experts, beautiful. Now we got the food mouthing off about the farmer."

Stay tuned.

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