The release of a television series in a boxed set that reads "The Complete Series" is usually a bittersweet affair. It means the show is over, the sets have been broken down, and the cast has been scattered to the winds. Sometimes it is a glorious, gargantuan box with dozens of discs that span several seasons. Other times it is the thin box of a show snuffed too early.
Often a show gets canceled before it finds its footing or its audience. You watch a set like Firefly or Pushing Daisies and your heart breaks because the show was so good and you'll never get to see a new episode again. Then there are times when it's a set like Moonlight, when it is a show that you can't believe ever aired on network television. Sometimes it is a show so bad that sixteen 42-minute episodes seem more like a prison sentence than one last ride with an old friend.
But that's what this is.
Moonlight is yet another goofy attempt for a network to raise the dead (so to speak) and find another hit off of the ever-popular, long established, vampire cult fan base. Every five or six years someone tries it in primetime. And it never works. Not in this format. The biggest problem is one of practicality meeting mythos: it's hard to shoot at night, and it's even harder to get a show to work consistently that always takes place at night. So every once in a while they rewrite the rules of vampires to allow them to walk around in daylight. And while they're at it, they figure why not change another rule here and there, right? Next thing you know, you're not really dealing with vampires any more. And any attempts to "vamp it up" further only lead to added cheesiness.
Sure, HBO has a hit on their hands with True Blood. But HBO has better quality control and, let's face it, they can get away with A LOT MORE on cable. Vampires are rated-R creatures whose very existence is a merging of sex and violence. Tone that down and what do you have? Moonlight.
This is the tale of Mick St. John (there's a fan-fic name if I ever heard one), a private detective who solves murders that almost always seem to involve vampires in some way. Good thing he just so happens to be one. Right? Wrong. Nothing ever goes right for Mick and his life gets seemingly more complicated early on in the series when he decides to tell a reporter exactly who and what he is. The show kind of goes downhill from there.
Marred by terrible writing and acting that can at best be described as wooden, this thing got canceled for good reason. The first time I heard the plot to Dexter I said, "No way can that work," because this was the television show I pictured. Instead Dexter went right where this went wrong. Episodic to the point of ridiculousness and cheesy in all the wrong ways, this is the type of show that drives people away from television and towards other mediums of entertainment.
That's not to say that there aren't a few bright spots on the show -- specifically, Jason Dohring, who plays Mick's best friend, a 400-year-old sleazeball LA vampire/corporate jerkwad (he's almost always funny), and Shannyn Sossamon as Mick's crazed ex-wife/vampire sire. Sadly, both are dramatically underused and neither can save this show from the oblivion of lameness it often sinks into.
If only the life of an internet journo-blogger were as exciting as it is portrayed here then maybe I wouldn't be condemned to watching this bleak, nigh talentless production. I want a newsroom to work in. Why can't I have a newsroom?
Oh, and thankfully (for this reviewer, at least), this set comes completely free of "special feature" extras. A bummer for fans, but nothing you'll miss if you attempt to endure this in a marathon like I did.
Moonlight is available now from Warner Bros. Home Entertainment.