In February 2009, SFX – a popular British sci-fi, horror and fantasy magazine – started a poll in search of the all time greatest vampires. Thanks to some serious voting activity by Moonlight and Alex O’Loughlin fans, Mick St. John got to the #4 spot in the Top 50 Greatest Screen Vampires of All Time. In addition to a Mick St. John write up in the June 2009 Vampire Special of the magazine, there is also a 9-page Moonlight feature in which Alex O’Loughlin comments on each 16 episodes of the show that gained him a dedicated, international fan base.
Moonlight should never have worked. The critics hated it, dismissing the show with words such as “anemic” and “derivative”, and deeming it nothing more than a genre stew consisting of ingredients from Highlander (non-humans living among us in every day walks of life), Angel (vampire PI looking for personal salvation) and Beauty and the Beast (an impossible romance). Their cause wasn’t hurt by the fact that Moonlight’s original showrunner was Angel co-creator David Greenwalt, and its co-creator was Ron Koslow, who produced the Ron Perlman/Linda Hamilton live action Beauty and the Beast TV series of the 1980s.
But the critics were wrong, on one level at least. The show deemed most likely to fail (and do so quickly) confounded everyone as it began winning its 9 pm Friday timeslot for CBS, not only in the ratings, but in the even more important demographics as well. Just as importantly, it seemed to spontaneously give birth to the kind of cult fanbase that most shows can only dream of – one that continues to thrive despite the fact that the show only lasted a single season. Ultimately it was a victim of the writers’ strike and a network that didn’t know what to do with it rather than a ratings crash.
Alex O’Loughlin, who stars as vampire Mick St. John, was instantly embraced by the audience and remains one of the most popular members of the undead ever (as evidenced by the poll starting on page 13). The thrust of the series is the growing relationship between Mick and internet reporter Beth Turner (Sophia Myles), despite the difficulties arising from their very different worlds.
For his part, O’Loughlin remains proud of what the show accomplished and what it represents. “I got to be a part of a story I really liked,” he says. “I’ve always wanted to play a vampire since I was a kid and that’s not something that will necessarily happen again in my lifetime. It was just a great fit and a great experience. It was also a stressful experience. We were working with a budget and we were always fighting for everything we needed. The show wasn’t considered the ‘golden child’ at all – we had to constantly present reasons why we shouldn’t be shut down.
“It was wonderful to fight for something and keep it alive for longer than it otherwise would have been,” he continues. “It’s great to be a part of a success, even if it was for only a season. The thing is, we were able to tell some really important stories. It wasn’t just about these monstrous creatures and sexuals romps. What we always went for was the human truth – the human story – and that’s the reason we make films in the first place. We didn’t always hit it, but I feel that from time to time we did and that’s why we held on to the audience – because they sensed that truth.”
SFX Special Edition: Vampires