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Alex O'Loughlin in MOONLIGHT - Season 1 - "Out of the Past"

Television

Review: MOONLIGHT - SEASON 1 - "Out of the Past"

An ex-con gets out of prison to hunt down the vampire who put him there. Good premise, poor execution

Grade: C
Stars: Alex O' Loughlin, Sofia Myles, Jason Dohring, Shannyn Sossamon
Writer(s): David Greenwalt
Director: Frederick E.O. Toye
Network: CBS, Friday's @ 9:00 p.m. EST
Release Date: October 5, 2007

Published 10/10/2007

After suffering through one of the most half-assed pilots all season, MOONLIGHT settles into its second episode “Out of the Past,” improving by leaps and bounds, but still suffering from a sense of déjà vu of vampire shows of the past.

ANGEL co-creator David Greenwalt, who served as an executive producer on the show momentarily this summer before abruptly leaving, scripted this episode which is why it’s better than it should be. Unfortunately, the direction of this episode is lifeless and the acting is still quite stilted, torpedoing any of the coolness Greenwalt brings to the story.

In what could have been a leftover ANGEL episode, vampire detective Mick St. John (Alex O’Loughlin) is haunted by his violent past, when a man who he put away in prison Lee Jay Spaulding (David Fabrizio) for some horrible deeds, is released and is gunning for Mick in a serious way. And it’s not just your typical, “I’m getting out of prison, and am mad as hell” type of guy. Lee Jay knows Mick is a vampire because the vamp dick was going to take him out old justice style -- with his teeth -- before cops intervened. All these years in prison, Lee Jay has boned up on vampire mythology and plans on using it against Mick, but that doesn’t work, since we’ve already learned the vampires in MOONLIGHT’s world aren’t your typical “stake in the heart” garden variety.

When this doesn’t work, Lee Jay, who has written a book about how innocent he was, decides to make Mick look like the bad guy and set him up for abuse in public. This contrite formula doesn’t work very well, but many of this episodes smaller moments do. When Mick goes to visit his old cop buddy (Hal Williams) who knew him way back when, he thinks Mick is aging, just like him. And why – because the guy is blind. But it offers some really nice chemistry and has some of that playing against type that made ANGEL such a thoroughly original series.

The chemistry between Mick and Beth Turner (Sophia Myles) is slowly developing and the big revelation happens at the end of the episode when he finally tells her (or is that shows her) that he’s a vampire. Of course, this is where the episode goes horribly astray in a laughable way. Mick comes back to his place and starts sucking on one of his blood bags looking all vampire-crazy and Beth walks in witnessing this. So obviously, yes, of course you’re a vampire, because you’re sucking on a blood bag. Makes total sense. This scene is horribly directed and staged – when it should have been a little more dangerous and maybe a little more sexy.

The interaction between Mick and his mentor Josef Constantin (Jason Dohring) isn’t as snappy as the previous episode, using him more as a strict buddy to talk to whose conveniently available to discuss moral and ethical dilemmas when necessary. Hopefully this won’t become the show’s weekly formula – “Mick must track someone down, and suddenly Josef shows up with a glass of blood wine and they discuss what has to be done.” Agggg. Please, save us from that.

As for the other story of Lee Jay, the criminal – the biggest problem is there should have been more interplay of him using traditional vampire techniques against Mick and none of them working. This idea is abandoned early on, when a stake through the heart doesn’t work. If the show wanted to re-establish its premise, without having to do silly expositional lines, this would have been the way to go.

Sadly, even Greenwalt can’t elevate the so-so MOONLIGHT into above-average territory. Granted, it’s a step in the right direction from the awful, and we mean, awful pilot. Hopefully this is the right direction, otherwise, cancellation will be the final stake in the heart for Mick and his cohorts and Greenwalt’s early exit will have been for all the right reasons.

4204-4224

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