Monday, October 1, 2007

"Moonlight" Recap & Review - "No Such Thing As Vampires"

Moonlight
"No Such Thing As Vampires"


Original Air Date: September 28, 2007

Jon G - TwoCents Staff Writer

Whenever you go into a movie or show involving vampires, it requires some suspension of believe. We have to turn up the dials on our imagination because vampires don’t exist. Right?

“Being a vampire sucks. It’s a bad joke, I know, but it’s the truth.”
The story starts off with an imagined interview with the vampire Mick St. John. It’s something we all develop in our minds from time to time. In this exposition, Mick assures us that most of the things we’ve heard about vampires are old wives’ tales: a wooden stake wouldn’t kill a vampire, he doesn’t sleep in a coffin (actually, he sleeps in a freezer), garlic tastes great on pizza, holy water would only get him wet, no turning into a bat, crucifixes don’t bother him and sunlight would only make him feel crummy – but wouldn’t kill him or set him ablaze. The only ways he mentioned to kill a vampire would be to use a flame thrower (i.e., some sort of fire), or to lop off its head. “Other than that, we heal,” he says. Mick St. John doesn’t hunt people, either. Or “innocents,” as he put it. “But there are predators out there that need to be dealt with,” he explains. He has a ‘guy,’ like a drug dealer, that procures his vials of blood which he injects after he rises, fangs out, from the freezer bed. Within the first minutes, Moonlight steps away from the well trodden trail to hopefully make something of a place of its own. All of this, for me, added some validity and realism to the premise. If you believe in the Undead…. And all of this very neatly brings us up to speed for the start of the show.

While injecting some red breakfast into his arm, his eyes turning red and fangs receding along with his sated thirst, he notices a beautiful blonde woman giving a remote live webcast on a gossip site named BuzzWire. Her name is Beth Turner and she’s at a crime scene in Los Angeles where a young college co-ed has been found dead in a fountain with holes in her neck consistent with a vampire’s bite. Mick seems to recognize her and he’s off in a flash to the crime scene.

Beth speaks with Lt. Carl Davis, who she knows from a 710 Freeway shooting story, gets some identity info about the victim and is allowed to walk barefoot through the fountain to the body. Mick is surprised to see Beth walk through the freezing fountain at 2am. She then walks up to him and asks, “Do I know you?” before asking which title he likes best for her article about the murder. When she mentions vampires, he interjects, “There’s no such thing as vampires,” and before she can glance at the crime scene and back to him to disagree, he vanishes.

Sunrise. Beth and her camera man (Kevin Weisman from Alias fame) remain at the crime scene looking for and eventually finding the car of the slain student from Hearst College. She snaps shots of the parking permit and an occult bat-like figurine hanging from the rearview mirror.

Mick, who we find out is 90 years old, ends up at his friend Josef’s posh Hollywood Hills pad. Josef is on the phone, dressed and talking like an investment banker. He’s one of the oldest vampires in LA, but “400 going on 30.” Josef asks Mick if he’s heard about the vampire slaying in West Hollywood.

“It’s a threat to our secrecy. What is this, the 1720’s?” Josef asks. “You’re only 90. You don’t know what it’s like to be chased by a torch-bearing mob,” he adds.
Josef then offers Mick a refreshment in the form of a pretty 25 year old woman, which Mick graciously declines before leaving. In the sunlit room, Josef says goodbye to his friend, turns, and bites the offered wrist of the young girl.

Mick then stops by the morgue to visit his friend Guillermo, also a member of the undead. As he walks into the room, Guillermo sips from a beaker full of the red stuff. As he opens a fridge, we discover that this is Mick’s ‘guy’ that supplies him with vials of blood. He asks Guillermo to show him the body of the victim from that morning. A few scenes from the last moments of her life flash before us, and Mick claims that there is no smell of vampire on her. The bite marks are too clean and not all of her blood was taken – this wasn’t a vampire kill. “Call me if you get anything else,” Mick says and he’s off.

We see a flashback to 1985 and a case the he took to find a missing girl. A few sniffs and Mick’s got the trail.

Back to the present, Beth picks the lock at the victim’s apartment and glides in. Her flashlight reveals some odd goth-o-rama decor, wilting roses in vases – as a dark shadow flits by her soundlessly. She swings a vase around and strikes the head of a dark figure in back of her – Mick. “Ouch,” he says calmly.
He tells Beth that he’s a private investigator and flashes in investigator’s license in front of her flashlight. He begins looking around the room (sans flashlight) and finds a necklace with a bat-like charm similar to what Beth saw in the victim’s car. It’s an Egyptian hieroglyphic insignia of an ancient blood cult. Mick pulls out a small vial of blood from within it. Beth’s boyfriend Josh calls on her cell and Mick disappears again. “Stop doing that,” Beth says to the empty room.

The next scene opens on the funeral of the victim, Kelly Foster. Mick walks under the shadow of a tree, sunglasses on. Beth’s at the funeral, too, taking pictures with her iPhone-like device. A tall, thin man named Christian Ellis, and not wearing sunglasses, steps up to the casket and says a few words. He was Kelly’s social anthropology/ancient mythologies professor. Several goth-dressed kids lay black roses on her coffin.

As Beth asks for the vial Mick took from the apartment the previous night, a blonde emo girl turns and strikes Christian in the neck, cutting him as another student tries to subdue her.

Mick is aroused by the smell of fresh blood in the air. The funeral ends, and Mick walks from shadow to shadow to his car, shielding his eyes. (I would have definitely mentioned his behavior at this point if I were Beth). He jumps in his car and Beth puts her hand on his to ask again for necklace. Mick’s obviously unnerved by her touch. He reaches into the glove compartment and drops the necklace in her hand, telling her it’s the professor’s blood in the vial.

The girl who scratches the professor is named Chloe. That night, Beth stops at the dinner Chloe works at to get some more info. She tells Beth that the professor runs a vampire study group/cult that partakes in chanting, candles, blood drinking – the usual thing.

“Christian thinks he’s a vampire,” Chloe says doubtfully. Professor Christian has a lot of ‘disciples,’ and Chloe admits it was she that convinced Kelly Foster to join up. She goes on to describe him as “powerful, seductive, makes you feel special.” Christian took a liking to Kelly, which angered Chloe, she admits, but no, she didn’t kill her.

At this point, I’m thinking that Christian killing Kelly would be way too obvious and Chloe’s got too much attitude to be the killer, so perhaps there’s someone else Kelly knew that took her out…
Parked outside of Christian’s house, Mick can hear the professor arguing with his wife, who appears quite ‘normal.’ Mick explains further that after he was turned into a vampire, his senses were heightened to 11 (yes, a Spinal Tap reference!). He’s able to smell the past, glimpse the future and hear a marriage going down the drain from 100 yards. Seconds later, Christian backs out in his car and is off. Instead of following, Mick heads to the house and talks with Mrs. Professor, letting her know that he’s an investigator working Kelly’s case. She invites him in asking, “What do you want to know?” She admits that Christian is a snake and is aware that he seduces these impressionable girls in a basement as a self-proclaimed vampire. Mick goes for the jugular and asks, “Do you think Christian killed Kelly Foster?”

“She had bites on her neck,” she says. “He’s the only vampire I know.”
Disguised as a student (baseball hat & braids), Beth sits in the back of the professor’s nighttime class. After class, Beth then introduces herself to him as a transfer student from Berkeley. She works her way into his study group and is introduced to Daniel, his TA, the same student that subdued Chloe at the funeral. (Hmmmm, is this a potential suspect?)

The next day, Mick suddenly appears in the professor’s office and introduces himself (I think that Mick, Alex O’Loughlin, sounds a lot like Matt Dillon). “I’m working for Kelly,” Mick tells him and in a provoking manner gets the professor to admit to being a vampire and what a vampire actually is. Mick accuses him of sleeping with his students and the conversation is over.

That night, Mick keys into his apartment to find Josef waiting for him. He’s about done with a glass of blood and asks, “What is [this], non-fat soy vegan blood?” (ok, some comedy. I admit I laughed). Josef is calmly pissed about the coverage that vampires are getting on the news and blames it on Beth’s vampire story. He’s adamant that Mick get the story/Beth under control before people start to notice them and realize vampires are real.

Closing up the diner, Chloe is surprised by a dark figure in a mask from Christian’s office. At first startled, she then speaks to the figure in familiar tones as if it’s Christian, asking it to take off the stupid mask. With the flick of a switchblade, we see the outside of the dinner and hear her scream.
Somehow, Beth finds Mick’s apartment/office and walks in talking to him. They hypothesize about the professor or the professor’s wife being the killer. Mick becomes concerned when Beth mentions that she’s attending the professor’s study group.

“You look so familiar,” she says. “Are you sure we haven’t met before?”
Mick then launches into a flashback about the young girl he tracked down 22 years ago, who we now assume was Beth (both are blonde, right?). The girl was abducted by a dark-haired woman/vampire named Coraline, who Mick was married to. Entering a room, the young girl turns around to face Mick as Coraline descends from the ceiling. She wears a flowing white dress, reminiscent of a bride of Dracula.
“I knew you would come,” she says, holding the young girl infront of her. “Finally. One happy family.”

Entering the empty and dark diner, Mick calls for Chloe. He steps into the kitchen and finds her lying dead on the floor. She’s been dressed in flowing pick fabric, just like Kelly Foster. The strange mask lies next to her on the floor. “Beth,” he says and he’s off.

Across town, Beth descends into the boiler room on campus with Daniel the TA. Mick speeds towards the college while calling Beth’s cell phone, only to get her voicemail. Beth arrives at the study group just as the professor ends the session, dismissing the other students. He invites her to another room for some one-on-one time. In a seductive manner, he begins to instruct Beth on energy, where each places the other’s hand on their heart. Beth giggles a little bit in disbelieve and Christian feels the hidden mic, ripping her shirt to uncover it. She kicks him in the ribs, runs upstairs and runs into Daniel. She asks to use his cell to call the police (what happened to Beth’s?) and they run off to his car. Daniel hands her the phone and as she begins to dial, he sticks a syringe into her back. He then moves her limp body into the car.

Using his vam-powers, Mick leaps down into the basement and rushes to the professor. Mick vamps out and scares the professor into admitting that Beth fled. He then tosses the professor across the room and is topside in a flash. With a deep sniff, he sees what happened to Beth and he’s off. Coming to, Beth asks Daniel why he’s doing this. "You wouldn’t understand,” he says and goes on to proclaim Christian a profit. Daniel admits that what he is doing is to keep distractions away from Christian so he can fulfill his destiny. At this moment, Mick comes running up the road at a very high speed, smashes through the driver’s window, and grabs Daniel, who begins to lose control of the car. He smashes into a few parked cars, Mick is throw off, and then comes to a halt, crashing into a light post.

Mick lies several yards away, obviously hurt. Seeing that Daniel is about to skewer Beth, he rushes toward Daniel only to get a sharp instrument shoved into his chest. Mick pulls out the spike, shoves it into Daniel, breaks his arm, and then tosses him 10 feet into the air into the light post. Mick picks up Beth, who dizzily saw some of the paranormal action, and walks away.

Flashback to his confrontation with Coraline, Mick forbids her from hurting the girl and the couple vamp-out, throwing each other across the room, scratching and biting and growling until he shoves a wooden stake through her chest. He then grabs a young Beth and smashes a hurricane lamp to burn the room. A final glance back reveals Coraline burning and very much still alive within the room. Mick’s voice tells us of how he’s been watching over Beth since that night incase she ever needed him – and she did that night. She awakes in his place and claims that it was him that rescued her when she was a child and that she watched him pull the knife out of his stomach. He chalks all of this up to the bump on her head and they embrace.

I like vampire shows and movies, and this one wasn’t too bad. There were a few things that took me out of the game, (some very predictable dialogue, Sophia Myles’ (Beth) British accent came out a few times, Mo the editor was reading from a cue card), I guessed right off who the killer was, and I could have used a few more undead moves from Mick, but I thought it was decent enough to warrant a second watch. The chemistry between Mick and Beth is good, as well as between Mick and Josef (Jason Dohring who appeared on Veronica Mars). I’m also glad the first episode did not deal with Mick fighting vampires – because we all know that’s coming, and not going there right off the bat gives the show legs.

Mick St. John (Alex O’Loughlin) did a good job and I’m curious to know more about his history with Coraline (Shannyn Sossamon, who played a dead model in FX’s Dirt). I was really rooting for Sophia Myles, who was great in Underworld I & II and Tristan and Isolde, and she was definitely fun to watch, but I think she’s still warming up.

It’s a detective show first, and a vampire show second. Hopefully we’ll get at least a full season out of this one before the network lops off its head.

4 comments:

  1. I am a huge fan of this genre but this show was completly un watchable. The acting was almost as bed as the writing. So hokey and sentimental I watched it while thinking THEY CANCELLED ANGEL AND PICKED UP THIS CRAP! There is no justice in TV. The folklore of this show was uninterested or new and the characters were cliche. It wants to use the Noir angle but it doesn't know anything about Noir. I don't think its interesting enough to be a detective show or a vampire show. Write good stories people and stop trying to do high concepts. Let Annie Rice and Josh Whedon do the heavy lifting. Cut this show loose please.

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  3. I am a big fan of horror and suspense thriller series. Moonlight TV Show is one from them. I like this show very much. I always watch this show online on every Saturday.

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