“Only the good die young,” as the song goes. Over the years there have been a number of TV shows that have made an impact on us here at 25YL and that we have been sad to see struck down in their primes. A season or two that grabbed us, and…that’s it. Whether there is some sense of completion or we are left dangling by a finger from the side of a cliff, these are shows that we think are worth remembering, re-visiting, or even watching now for the first time. This week Kacie Lillejord takes a look at the short-lived show Moonlight.
For 25YL! Cancelled too soon
5 December 2019
The CBS TV show Moonlight premiered in 2007, set in Los Angeles and starring Alex O’Loughlin as private investigator Mick St. John and Sophia Myles as reporter Beth Turner. From the first episode, it’s clear there’s a level of attraction between Mick and Beth, but there are complications. One, Mick is a vampire; two, Mick and Beth have a shared history, which Beth isn’t initially aware of; and three, Beth originally dates someone else, DA Josh Lindsey (Jordan Belfi)
Over the course of 16 episodes, we watch as Mick and Beth experience a fair amount of sexual tension as they work cases together. Their cases would sometimes intersect, or one would involve the other. Mick was always protective, but Beth could hold her own.
The thing is, Mick has been protecting Beth since she was a young girl when he rescued her from a kidnapper—a kidnapper that happened to be Mick’s vampire ex-wife, Coraline (Shannyn Sossamon). If there was ever an ex you wished you could forget, Coraline would be it.
Coraline had kidnapped Beth for the sole purpose of saving her marriage to Mick. Angered that Coraline had turned him against his will, Mick’s relationship with her had fallen apart over the years. We later learn that even before vampirism was involved, the two endured a stormy and oftentimes volatile relationship. Coraline intended to turn Beth so she could give Mick a family, and instead of going along with the plan, Mick saves the young Beth and leaves Coraline to burn alive—one of the only ways in which a vampire can die.
Moonlight could be painted as creepy considering that from the moment Mick saved Beth as a child he always watched over her from nearby—not as a stalker, but as a protector, a self-appointed guardian. He did so because, with Beth, he felt guilty that it was because of his ex-wife that she was placed in danger. It instilled this desire within to protect her from any further harm, remaining in the background in case she ever needed him. Plus, as far as the audience knows, Mick never watched her sleep from the end of the bed like Edward did with Bella in Twilight.
It’s sweet, the way Mick cares for Beth. As the two officially meet again in the pilot episode, “No Such Thing as Vampires,” it’s apparent that they have a connection. Mick saves her from a crazed professor and his assistant in that same episode, declaring, “I’m not gonna let you hurt her.” The need to protect turns into love in Mick’s case.
For Beth, she struggles to remember Mick. She frequently comments that he seems familiar, but she can’t place him. He continually lets her guess, initially keeping his identity as a vampire secret from her. As time goes on, Beth connects the dots—even revisiting the house where Coraline held her captive, making Beth remember more details of the kidnapping, including her savior, Mick.
Mick relies on his vampire friend Josef (Jason Dohring) for advice and guidance throughout the series. Josef once tried to turn his mortal girlfriend into a vampire with her blessing so they could be together forever, but he failed, placing her in a coma that left her frozen in time as she hasn’t aged since. Josef sadly lets Mick and Beth in on the secret, even showing them his beloved.
Many times throughout the series, Mick and Beth are given reasons why they shouldn’t be together. These include Josef’s experience and also the deaths of a vampire couple that were together many, many years but were sacrificed by other vampires for breaking the code: rules that all vampires must follow to keep their existence a secret or else suffer the consequences.
An Impossible Romance
Mick and Beth are so obviously perfect for one another, but they keep getting in one another’s way. Mick holds back because he doesn’t want to damn Beth to a life as an immortal. He believes he can’t give her the best life. She hesitates because she’s already dating Josh, and she’s not sure what to make of her growing attraction to Mick.
Josh is a sweet guy that is good to and for Beth, but he just doesn’t possess the fiery passion and connection to Beth that Mick holds. In a way, Beth strays from Josh as she spends more and more time with Mick on cases. When Josh is dying, Beth even begs Mick to turn him and save him, but Mick refuses as it’s against his own personal code to turn someone, with or without consent. She and Mick hit a rift of sorts following this event, but they do mend their relationship.
That’s the thing here: Mick and Beth, no matter what they go through, always end up together again. They always work through whatever obstacle is thrown their way. From the reappearance of Mick’s supposedly dead ex Coraline (she did make a reappearance pretending to be someone else but wound up back in Europe to be punished by vampire royalty for breaking some vampire rules) to finding out what Mick really was, the two have always overcome it together.
If they can do all that, there’s no reason why they couldn’t be together for eternity. That’s one of the best things about Moonlight. Beth and Mick were this passionate couple that everyone was envious of. There was so much more to be said and done and explored, and I definitely miss the Mick and Beth moments on the show. They saved each other, many times. Beth saved Mick when he was dying in the desert (a vampire gets worse and worse the longer they are in the sun in this show) by allowing him to feed on her blood, and Mick saves her from mortal danger on a regular basis. It’s a partnership that was special and could have produced some of the greatest moments in paranormal romance history.
The vampires are very different in Moonlight from say, mainstream Twilight. To turn someone, you have to bite them, drain them of blood, and then make sure they have vampire blood in their system in their dying moment. Sun is an enemy; the longer a vampire is out in it, the worse they feel. The only ways to kill a vampire are by fire or decapitation. Stakes cause paralysis until they are pulled out. There is a clean-up team you can call if you make a mess and risk exposure of vampire life. Vampires are like a secret society, and they must abide by rules. One of the most important rules is that your sire (the vampire that turns you) must teach you the ways of a vampire or else they risk death for not abiding by this law. It is crucial that vampires and their existence are kept secret.
It would’ve been interesting to see Moonlight dig further into vampire lore and find out more about the laws that all vampires have to live by. How would it have affected Beth and Mick?
Mick’s and Beth’s backgrounds were explored somewhat, but Mick’s more so than Beth’s. It was shown that Mick was turned in the 1950s. It would’ve been cool to have more flashbacks of Mick’s human life in order to get more of a read on who he was and how different he is as a vampire than as a human. Not to mention his early years of being a vampire: how did he handle it? How exactly did his relationship with Coraline change after she forcibly turned him on their wedding night?
Mick is shown to use his vampire talents of heightened senses and psychic abilities (they are able to see the future and the past to some degree) for good, as he became a private investigator to help others. He gained a reputation for solving even the most unsolvable cases. He is mature and strong, and he strictly abides by his own standards. Very few vampires live so strictly or selflessly. Mick surely didn’t transform into the man he is overnight, so it would’ve been interesting to find out more about his life story and how he overcame his struggles.
Beth, on the other hand, may not have as much of an interesting backstory, but it would’ve been nice to know more about her innermost thoughts. Mick narrates the show, so we always know what he’s thinking and feeling. One episode of Moonlight allows Beth to do this, but it would’ve been a great idea to include more of Beth along the line so we could gain further insight into her thought process, including her thoughts on Mick.
In a way, Moonlight did a good job of wrapping up most storylines in the final episode. However, some important things were left unsaid. For instance, new Assistant District Attorney Benjamin Talbot (Eric Winter) had photos of Mick being hit by a car and bearing no injuries. Not only this, but an unknown source also provided Talbot with the names of vampires in the area, including Mick’s. We’ll never know what Talbot was going to do with this information or what kind of fallout could’ve been caused for Mick, Josef, and the rest of the vampires.
Coraline’s fate is left up in the air as well. She disappears after being taken to Europe, but we’re not exactly sure what happens to her. It’s implied that she was killed for breaking vampire laws, but she was supposedly dead before, too. It’s possible she could have escaped and returned to Los Angeles to cause even more havoc in Mick’s and Beth’s lives. There is also the vampire cure that, although temporary, had the potential to become permanent if given the right tools. It could have solved one of the most daunting problems in Mick’s and Beth’s relationship by making Mick human and granting him the life he always wanted.
Last but not least, Beth confesses to Mick in Moonlight‘s final episode that she doesn’t think they should continue as a couple given how badly things had ended for the vampire couple in that same episode. Plus, Beth never wanted to make the choice of mortality vs. immortality. Mick leaves upon hearing this but returns, kissing Beth. It doesn’t exactly solve their problems, but it implies that they’ll stay together anyway. It’s a nice thought, but I still wanted to know for sure what their fates would be.
Obstacles Against the Show
Like it did for many other shows at the time, the 2007–2008 Writers Guild of America strike affected the show in that it shortened the number of episodes produced. Since Moonlight was in its first season, it couldn’t afford a setback like the strike, and I believe that’s part of the reason why the show was cancelled too soon. The strike placed the show on hiatus, allowing people to forget about it and move on to other things or otherwise lose interest. Any show, especially a new one, needs to remain constant through a season and up the ante each week to keep viewers interested. If it doesn’t do this, it’s harder for the show to return with its audience still interested and invested in it.
Plus, the timing of the vampire/paranormal romance genre may have been too soon, if you can believe it. When Twilight hit theaters in 2008, it became the next big phenomenon over several years. Love for everything vampire and paranormal romance was at the forefront, creating the likes of “Twihards.” Twilight somehow managed to do what Moonlight couldn’t by way of its quantity of fans as well as its ability to maintain audience interest. I love Bella and Edward, but I’ll always favor Beth and Mick.