Friday, September 28, 2007

Pale 'Moonlight'

When I first heard about the series "Moonlight" (CBS, 9 p.m.), about a vampire who becomes a privated investigator to help people with supernatural problems, my reaction was like everyone else's.

I really liked it the first time when the series was called "Angel."

But I was determined not to give the series such a flip review once I got the pilot, and at least try to judge "Moonlight" on its own merits.

The pilot, which was entirely recast except for lead actor Alex O'Loughlin and reshot, follows the vampire detective Mick St. John, a 90-year-old vampire who was turned by his bride (Shannyn Sossamon) on their wedding night. St. John's only guide is one of the oldest vampires around, Josef (Jason Dohring of "Veronica Mars"), who concerns himself more about day trading and staying anonymous than helping humanity.

Mick has kept watch over a girl for most of her life (Sophia Myles), who has grown up to be a reporter for a Web site. She becomes interested in a murder when it appears to have been committed by a vampire, which also raises Mick's interest.

So the verdict?

I'll say this: It made me really miss "Angel."

There's nothing about "Moonlight" that we really haven't seen before on lots of other series - the superhero, the mentor, the plucky reporter who constantly needs rescuing and can't seem to put the hero's identity together.

In trying to distinguish itself from "Angel," which was one of the best-written shows on TV while it aired, "Moonlight" hurts itself by taking out the best bits of what made "Angel" so special.

Angel was a centuries-old vampire cursed by gypsies to have a soul, so that he might feel his victim's pain. He must spend the rest of eternity trying to repent for hundreds of years of murder and mayhem, and can't experience a moment's happiness, lest he lose his soul.

Mick carries none of that angst. He never wanted to be a vampire, and has seemingly always been a good guy.

In Angel's world, there are demons, werewolves, warlocks and other creatures of myth, many of whom were presented in a wickedly funny way. In Mick's world, there are only vampires, which I would think would handcuff the producers for future storylines.

It may not be fair to compare "Moonlight" to "Angel" or even a show like "Forever Knight." But the producers are targeting essentially the same audience, who will watch "Moonlight" and make their own comparisons. And "Moonlight" won't be able to stand up under that.

WEEKEND'S BEST BETS: "Moonlight" will be anchored by two returning shows tonight, "Ghost Whisperer" at 8 p.m. and "Numb3rs" at 10 p.m. "Numb3rs" has a very strong premiere, directed in the unique style of producer Tony Scott and with guest-star Val Kilmer, the premiere picks up with last season's cliffhanger of FBI agent Colby Granger (Dylan Bruno) an apparent spy for China. Or is he? That's what Don (Rob Morrow) and his team have to find out.

Also airing tonight is the two-hour season premiere of "Las Vegas," (NBC, 9 p.m.), which welcomes new cast member Tom Selleck and bids adieu to star James Caan.

John Simm ("Life On Mars") guest stars as the Doctor's old enemy, The Master, who attempts to conquer the world in the second part of the three-part season finale on "Doctor Who" (Sci-Fi, 8 p.m.) It's folowed by a new "Flash Gordon" and "the season premiere of "Stargate Atlantis" at 10 p.m., which features former "Stargate SG-1" star Amanda Tapping as a new cast member.

"Torchwood" (BBC America, Sat., 9 p.m.) is all-new.

Sunday marks the season debuts of "Desperate Housewives" (ABC, Sun., 9 p.m.) and "Brothers & Sisters" (ABC, Sun., 10 p.m.)

The best bets for Sunday, however, are the season premieres of "Dexter" (Showtime, Sun., 9 p.m.) and "Brotherhood" (Show., Sun., 10 p.m.)


zodin2008 said...

First, I realize Saturday is now a 'TV Graveyard' so you generally only get re-runs (which is at least a nice way for people to cathc shows they may have missed or ran out of room on their DVR, but I take it as an affront that you failed to mention the season premier of "Saturday Night Live" with hos, LeBron James.

Now I am less than excited about James - a great athlete and one who seems to have a pretty good sense of humor - because athletes are so hit or miss as hosts.

For every Payton Manning who does a fantastic job, you get a Nancy Kerrigan or Lance Armstrong who stinks at it. I am far more excited about the 2nd episode of SNL on October 6th when "Knocked Up" star Seth Rogen hosts.

Speaking of SNL, there was major back and forth headlines about whether longtime castmember Maya Rudolph was returning or not - unfortunately, Lorne Michaels thought she was funny enough and made the deal happen.

For those Phillip blog readers who watch SNL and think Rudolph's screechy and annoying impersonations are actually funny, well, you probably also think the extremely untalented Dane Cook is funny.

As for "Moonlight", well, I was also a die hard "Angel" fan and frankly physically ill when the now defunct WB chose not to give "Angel" the 6th season it so richly deserved - which left the series with one helluva of a confusing and open series finales. Like Phillip, I will watch "Moonlight" tonight with the same reaction - missing "Angel".

Since David Boreanez has divested himself from the Joss Whedon universe (and he has been able to find success w/ "Bones") we are left with a pale immitation.

My only hope is that either "Moonlight" suddenly figures out a way to be really interesting, or hopefully it doesn't survive so that star Alex O'Laughlin can return to his excellent work in his last job, as Detective Hiatt on "The Shield".

Phillip Ramati said...

I don't think Moonlight will last long enough to find its legs.

I haven't watched SNL in years, and I find Rudolph to be the most overrated cast member they've had in a long time.

zodin2008 said...

Remember Phillip, you are a Blog for everyone, not just shows you watch.

And many of us still watch SNL and it's a Television institution so ignoring it is not going to stop people like me from watching - even when the castmembers are so blatantly unfunny like a Maya Rudolph.

Phillip Ramati said...

It's not ignoring the show. I can't list every single show out there, and the mediocrity that is SNL hasn't done much to make an impression the last few years.

I also tend to focus on scripted shows rather than variety/reality shows.

hotspur said...


You did not comment on the opening "Ugly Betty". It was truly awful. What was a very good show has really gone down

Hollywood said...

I agree with Zodin. Just because you don't like a certain genre, doesn't mean you should dismiss it. It's a TV blog. If I didn't cover certain sports I didn't like, then I wouldn't be very good at my job. Get it together Ramati.

Phillip Ramati said...

Wow, I'm feeling the heat here.

Unlike every other TV critic in America, I actually cover news full-time. I wish I had a job where all I could was watch TV and then write about it.

Hey, I don't cover Lifetime shows either, and I haven't heard any complaints.

zodin2008 said...

Yes, phillip, but SNL is a television institution and it warrants coverage. I realize you have a very hard time accepting, criticism, but you're 180% wrong on this one.

I have seen you even "mention" anything from "Kyle XY" to "Grey's Anatomy" and you don't watch either.

So buck up each week and on Friday, mention SNL. And frankly, this week, you'd really look foolish not doing that because the host this coming Saturday is "Knocked up" star, Seth Rogen. Talk about a great host we can all root for.