UNION-TRIBUNE TELEVISION CRITIC28 September 2007
So how bad was your week, really? If it was just the usual mix of tiring and aggravating, then you have our sympathies. But if Friday finds you hollow-eyed, depleted and minus a few brain cells, have we got a TV show for you. Cheesy, silly and strangely compelling in spite of its cheesy silliness, “Moonlight” is your new go-to show for empty-headed weekend fun. After all, this is the night that brought you “Ghost Whisperer.” And if there is room in your life for a pretty woman who sees dead people, you can probably spare some space for a hunky private detective who is also a vampire.
His name is Mick St. John, and he is played with telegenic sensitivity by Australian actor Alex O’Loughlin. Mick is a compassionate vampire who sleeps in a freezer and refuses to feed off the living, opting instead to procure his blood from the morgue. And like the vampire-detective hero of “Angel,” Mick dedicates his nights to making life safer for the innocents of Los Angeles.
“Moonlight” airs on the procedural-crazed CBS, but it is not exactly “CSI: Transylvania.” Tonight’s case involves the death of an attractive co-ed, an unforgivably hoary procedural staple that is made marginally more interesting by the fact that she may have been killed by – gasp! – a vampire.
The potential for chills is there, but the goth-girl trappings are just window dressing for what turns out to be a half-baked case. Fortunately, next week’s story involving a crafty killer from Mick’s past has a little more creative heft. But when it becomes clear that no one in the L.A. legal community has noticed that Mick hasn’t aged a day in 60 years, even the impaired Friday-night mind has to wonder.
Crime may be Mick’s business, but it is not this show’s strong suit. Neither is logic. What makes “Moonlight” worth a Friday-night fling is O’Loughlin’s soulful performance as the ultimate lonely hero and Mick’s relationship with the young woman he saved many years ago.
That would be Beth Turner (Sophia Myles), the intrepid Internet reporter whose connection to Mick is older and deeper than he wants to let on. Myles looks an awful lot like Kate Winslet, and the nervy intelligence she brings to this ingenue role would do her look-alike proud. Myles and O’Loughlin have a great, tender chemistry, and in the first two episodes, they are the emotional glue that holds the whole ridiculous enterprise together.
Unlike “Supernatural,” the CW’s superior creep-show romp, “Moonlight” doesn’t take full mythological advantage of its underworld vibe. The same goes for the casting of “Veronica Mars” anti-hero Jason Dohring as Mick’s best pal – a 400-year-old vampire in a 30-year-old hedge-fund trader’s body.
So far, Dohring’s bad-boy charms have gone mostly untapped. But the combination of O’Loughlin’s slow burn and Dohring’s evil twinkle has the potential for twisted good times ahead. Let’s hope the show doesn’t go to cancellation Hell before we can find out.