It seemed a little unfair to review the initial pilot of Moonlight, what with all the behind-the-scenes changes and shenanigans. In the time it took to go from Showrunner #1 through Showrunner #2 to Showrunner #3, it was possible other changes would occur, from someone getting a haircut to someone getting a nose job to someone getting a clue about how to make the show work.
And…they probably did. By the fourth episode, the show is much tighter and even a little darker. This week’s big climax was a little witty, a little surprising, and visually interesting. The show’s formula seems to have settled into a comfortable mix of Monster of the Week who requires some vampire behind-kicking paired with a relatively brisk moving forward of the relationship between the two leads. The vamp mythology seems to have settled into having a solid idea of what the undead characters can and can’t do. The effects seem to have settled into a more watchable groove. Sophia Myles even seems to have settled into her American accent nicely. If you’re looking for a reasonably well-executed marriage of Beauty and the Beast with vampire lore, Moonlight might be for you.
The fact that I just woke up with a W emblazoned on my cheek after losing consciousness on my keyboard while typing that last paragraph is not meant to imply that there’s anything wrong with wanting a marriage of Beauty and the Beast and vampire lore. The explosion of internet communities, fan fiction, edited videos set to love songs, and so forth associated with both canon and non-canon TV relationships is ample evidence that a large number of people are hungry for fiction that allows them to explore the ins and outs of budding and blocked romantic relationships. And Moonlight has set up considerable roadblocks to its primary relationship. I’d try to think of a better word than “hungry” to use while contemplating the persistent interest in the vampire mythos, but I just keeled over on the keyboard again and don’t have the energy. If it’s for you, it’s for you, and there’s nothing wrong with that.
Moonlight may have some difficulty crossing over to additional audiences who aren’t looking for that kind of thing, however, because there’s not really anything new or notable about it. It’s really no different than a new entry in the procedural category: if competently done, it will likely be successful, but does it contribute anything? Joss Whedon’s previous forays into bloodsucking had the advantage of being about something–exploring the teenage wasteland or the many shades of redemption (they also had the advantage of Joss Whedon, but we can hardly hold Moonlight responsible for that). Since I was born without the “shipping” gene, I have a harder time thinking of examples of shows about starcrossed lovers that stood out because they brought something new or sparkling to the table, but I bet they exist. Until it identifies some new angle on its age-old genres, Moonlight will likely be ignored by a large mainstream audience while being tightly embraced by folks looking for a little supernatural romance–not that there’s anything wrong with that.