Before there was Twilight, True Blood and The Vampire Diaries, CBS delivered a short-lived Paranormal Romance series called Moonlight. Anyone remember it? Nah, thought not.
I don’t know what the reception of the show was like in the US but over here in the UK Moonlight was a bit of a non-starter. I’m pretty sure we just got it as a bit of an afterthought to fill a slot on one of the lesser-known Sky channels. I don’t even remember what it was on, or how I discovered it. But I loved it. Sorry, LOVE it.
Moonlight follows private investigator Mick St. John (Alex O’Loughlin), who was turned into a vampire by his bride Coraline (Shannyn Sossamon) on the couple’s wedding night fifty-five years earlier. In the present day, he struggles with his attraction to a mortal woman, Beth Turner (Sophia Myles), his friendship with Josef Kostan (Jason Dohring), and his dealings with other vampires in Los Angeles.
A few weekends ago I had a proper Moonlight binge and watched the whole series. Every time I get to the last episode it makes me sad…it was totally cut off in its prime, managing only 16 episodes before it was cancelled. Which led me to wonder why it never took off…..
Obviously, it was just ahead of its time! Here’s why:
1. Moonlight arrived in 2007 which was just two years after Twilight was published. It was a year before Meyer’s novel was adapted which was really the catalyst in rejuvenating the Vampire genre, and paranormal romance (on screen) on the whole. If Moonlight had been released after the tween world went crazy for hot immortals then who knows what could have happened.
2. Alex O’Loughlin was relatively unknown when the series began. He’s since gained fame and acclaim for his role in the reboot of Hawaii 5-0. Having a big name in the lead role could have worked wonders. Not that I’d change it, Alex O’Loughlin is awesome. And by awesome, I mean hot.
3. Original storylines are hard to come by, especially when it comes to Vampire or paranormal shows. Ideas are lifted from both myth and literature, using them and re-using them to create all of those cliches we are so used to these days. So it’s no surprise that some of the themes seen in Moonlight have cropped up again in newer, more popular series. The use of Vampire blood as a euphoric drug for one. In Moonlight, a case leads Mick and Beth to Lola (guest star Holly Valance), a night-club owner and vampire who is killing her own for blood which she harvests into a drug called Black Crystal to sell to humans, making them feel powerful and sexy. This idea has cropped up recently and most substantially in True Blood* (2008) where Vamp Blood (V) is heavily used as a metaphor for drug abuse.
4. In another episode, Beth hires Mick to protect the survivor of serial killer ‘Shepherd’ who gets the death penalty. In a Manson family type storyline the killer’s loyal cult following is blamed for carrying on the killings, when in fact Shepherd turns out to be a vampire. Sound a bit familiar, minus the vampires? Recent hit The Following starring Kevin Bacon perhaps? See, waaaaaaaaay ahead of its time.
5. And lastly, Doppelganger folklore has been showing up more frequently in paranormal literature and TV shows in the last few years. In Moonlight, Mick’s ex-wife Coraline who he killed decades before returns in the shape of Shannyn Sossamon (A Knights Tale, 40 Days and 40 Nights) and he believes her to be a doppleganger. A few years later The Vampire Diaries*, premiered in 2009 centered around the story of Elena, the doppleganger of her soon-to-be vampire boyfriend’s ex. Got that?
*Yes I know L.J Smith’s Vampire diaries series and Charlaine Harris’ Sookie Stackhouse books were released before Moonlight, but we’re talking about TV shows here people. Keep up!