Review: Moonlight 1.1


In the US: Fridays, 9pm et/pt, CBS

In the UK: Either Virgin 1 or Living from January 2008

Ooh, I can tell why David Greenwalt legged it in about ten seconds flat after becoming exec producer of this. Ladies and gentlemen, we have a winner in the which show absolutely, definitely has earned the right to be first cancelled this season. David Tennant – don’t worry, your girlfriend’s coming back home soon.

If you’ve seen anything involving vampires whatsoever, if you’ve even so much as skimmed an Anne Rice novel, you’ll get an eerie sense of dé jà vu from Moonlight. Angel, Interview with a Vampire, or heaven forfend, Forever Knight (and I’m not even talking about the relatively average TV series with Geraint Wyn Davies, but the abysmal pilot movie with Rick Springfield) have all done vampires better.

And not one of them was a stupid, episode-long trailer for a bloody iPhone.

Plot (sucked from the CBS web site)

Mick St. John is a captivating, charming and immortal private investigator from Los Angeles, who defies the traditional blood-sucking norms of his vampire tendencies by using his wit and powerful supernatural abilities to help the living. In a life-altering twist of fate, Mick was “bitten” 60 years ago by his new bride, the seductive Coraline. Forever 30 years of age, Mick’s as handsome and charismatic as the day he was “turned,” and he eschews others of his kind who view humans only as a source of nourishment. With only a handful of like-minded confidantes for company, including the eternally young, wealthy and mischievous Josef, a hedge fund trader who relishes his uniqueness, Mick fills his infinite days protecting the living.

One night years ago, a single act of kindness changed Mick when he saved a young girl’s life, making him want to be a better vampire. Now their paths cross again and Mick develops a distinctive bond with Beth Turner, who has grown into a beautiful, ambitious Internet investigative reporter. Reconnecting with her unleashes feelings Mick knows he can’t pursue without exposing that part of him that would make him a monster in Beth’s eyes. As Mick lives between two realities, fighting his adversaries among the undead and falling in love, he discovers the mysteries and pleasures that a valuable life has to offer.

Is it any good?

With so many cooks behind the scenes, mucking around with the recipes, how could it be? But even so, it’s been hobbled even more by various other decisions. The lead actor (not British but Australian to make an interesting change) has looks and charisma but the acting talent of pine furniture, broken up and left overnight in a skip by your neighbours. Having spent so much on iPhones, the producers obviously couldn’t afford special effects either so have resorted to some of the most abysmal back projection that mere pocket change can buy for even car-driving scenes.

The first episode is little more than a Frankenstein’s monster of patchwork concepts. We have an opening “interview with a vampire” (see below) to clumsily explain what the ground-rules of vampires are in this show – since every show has to have different rules; we have the “tortured soul who can’t connect” private investigator of Angel; we have the crap fangs and eyes, speediness and vampire pal who really enjoys being a vampire of Forever Knight.

Been there, got bored by it the first time.

More worryingly, the love story, with Mick St John (absolutely not Nick Knight. No. Definitely not) keeping an eye on Sophia Myles since she was a kid might be an attempt at Mr Knightley/Emma-esque romance, but comes across as a little paedophilic instead – which is never something you really want either.

Sophia Myles is relatively good and her US accent a notch above others, although it wobbles a bit at times; Shannyn Sossamon is still the actress people turn to when they need someone even less convincing than Keira Knightley; Jason Dohring makes no impression whatsoever in the somewhat tedious role of “vampire who wants to keep this vampires thing quiet so he can snack quietly”.

Perhaps its one innovation is its choice of not having a constant barrage of vampire and undead adversaries for Honestly Not Nick Knight to fight – at least not in this opening episode. Instead, he gets to pick on Germans.

With the graveyard slot of Friday night (ho ho), it’s pretty much doomed anyway, so I’m not even sure it’ll make it as far as a third-episode verdict. Expect cancellation and use your Fridays for something better.

Just for comparison’s sake, here’s the original trailer for the show, with the original cast (before three of the four roles got changed), and here’s pretty much the first few minutes of the opening episode, cunningly disguised as a trailer.


Alex O’Loughlin (Mick St John)

Beth Turner (Sophia Myles)

Coraline (Shannyn Sossamon)

Josef (Jason Dohring)


  • Rob Buckley

    I’m Rob Buckley, a journalist who writes for UK media magazines that most people have never heard of although you might have heard me on the podcast Lockdown Land or Radio 5 Live’s Saturday Edition or Afternoon Edition. I’ve edited Dreamwatch, Sprocket and Cambridge Film Festival Daily; been technical editor for TV producers magazine Televisual; reviewed films for the short-lived newspaper Cambridge Insider; written features for the even shorter-lived newspaper Soho Independent; and was regularly sarcastic about television on the blink-and-you-missed-it “web site for urban hedonists” The Tribe. Since going freelance, I've contributed to the likes of Broadcast, Total Content + Media, Action TV, Off The Telly, Action Network, TV Scoop and The Custard TV.

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