Bram Stoker, Anne Rice and Joss Whedon be damned. Moonlight is a vampire saga determined to play by its own rules.
Right from the start of tonight’s pilot episode, prime time’s newest blood-sucker, Mick St. John (Alex O’Loughlin), dismisses most of the genre conventions that have been handed down through the ages. Garlic? It doesn’t repel him. Holy water, crucifixes and wooden stakes? Not so scary. Instead of a casket, our undead dude sleeps in a freezer.
This offbeat approach might give you the false impression that you’ve tuned into a sassy supernatural thriller bursting with creative ingenuity. Unfortunately, Moonlight soon loses its playful oomph and unravels into something that is inert, boring and, at times, almost painful to watch.
Perhaps that shouldn’t come as a shock. Moonlight has been a troubled production since it was picked up by CBS. The pilot underwent extensive rewriting and most of the original cast was given the boot. Along the way, executive producer David Greenwalt (Angel) bolted.
In some ways Moonlight is an adventurous show for CBS, a network known for playing it safe. On the other hand, it’s really just a crime procedural with fangs—a crime procedural that can’t even muster an intriguing case out of the gate. Don’t blame O’Loughlin. An Aussie import, he floats through the show with a relaxed charm and unassuming demeanor. He’s engaging enough, but the shallow script never brings his character fully to life.
Another problem: He shares no real chemistry with Myles, who comes across as wooden as the stakes that fail to faze Mick. Of course, she’s also hampered by the kind of starchy dialogue that will have you yearning for the witty wordplay of Buffy the Vampire Slayer.