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maryann johanson, ruining movies since 1997

I keep walking back into the ‘Moonlight’

I didn’t think it would happen, but Moonlight, CBS’s Friday night vampire drama, has grown on me. I’m not madly in love with it, and it seems unlikely that it’ll ever be a show that I make an appointment to watch — and in fact I let a month’s worth of episodes pile up in the DVR before I finally made some time to watch the four most recent over the weekend — but I can’t quite give it up yet.
It’s the characters that keep me coming back. That always has to be the case with a TV show — if the characters don’t engage you, what’s the point of watching? — but with Moonlight, that’s almost all there is at the moment for me. The crimes that 85-year-old undead private eye Mick St. John has been investigating have been pretty banal; even when they touch on issues vampiric, they’ve failed to genuinely engage me. The teenage vampire destined to be a hormonal freak for all eternity? Nice idea, dull execution. The vampire vamp who’s giving mortals a taste of what it’s like to be a vampire via a club drug? She — and what she was pushing — should have felt more like a looming threat than it did. I do like this idea: If criminal investigation these days is all about blood and forensics and such, who better at a crime scene than a vampire, who can sniff clues out of spilled blood without having to wait for a lab report? Mick’s turning of his particular and unusual skills to solving crimes has been intriguing: now I want those crimes to be more intriguing, and presented to us in a way that really conveys danger and darkness.

The only moments in which the show really catches fire are when Mick and journalist Beth Turner are together. Their slowly intensifying relationship has been the best thing about the show. He’s, literally, once bitten, twice shy after being turned as a vampire by his new wife, back in the 1950s — he killed her (or so he thought!) but still hasn’t come to terms with his immortality and his, um, unusual hunger. He’s a “good” vampire who only drinks bottled blood, until the writers conveniently arranged for him to be dying in a situation in which only feeding on Beth could save him. Was that sexy as hell? Of course it was. She’s not so shy — never mind her D.A. boyfriend — and keeps trying to nudge him toward… some kind of relationship that has no precedent in the history of human-vampire interaction.

Yeah, we’ve seen this all before. But I keep tuning in for stars Alex O’Loughlin, as Mick, and Sophia Myles, as Beth. They’re adorable, they’re charismatic, and there’s palpable screen electricity between them. I’m torn between wanting them to get together right away — cuz how hot would that be? — and wanting to drag out the exquisite agony of the ongoing tease. I guess that makes me a Moonlight ’shipper. So be it.

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