In the world of supernatural TV, anything’s possible: a sexy vampire, a dapper Devil. Anything, perhaps, except overcoming so-so ratings and a creatively uneven first year. Two purely escapist series, CBS’ vampire mystery Moonlight
and the CW’s satanic comedy Reaper
, are on the bubble for renewal (their fates are announced the week of May 12 during the networks’ up-front presentations). While neither is likely to become a genre classic of Buffy
status, both deserve a chance to keep going and growing.
Moonlight in particular enjoys buzz from fans smitten by Mick St. John, a dashing private-eye vampire (Alex O’Loughlin) who bares his chest more often than his fangs. Overcoming a dreary pilot stuffed with noir clichés, Moonlight quickly developed into a sizzling romance between Mick and Beth (Sophia Myles), a reporter who seems to crave the immortality he has come to despise.
An awful lot of daylight pervades Moonlight, which loves sending up old-school vampire myths as it goes about solving otherwise routine cases. (The sun isn’t good for vampires, but doesn’t instantly kill them, and so on.) There’s a complicated backstory, naturally, and a very expendable supporting cast — not counting Veronica Mars’ Jason Dohring as Josef, Mick’s eternally boyish and ridiculously wealthy mentor. What really matters here is watching Mick wrestle with his demons and desires.
“Maybe love can’t exist without mortality,” suggests the ex who turned Mick undead decades ago, and who introduced him to a cure that made him temporarily human. (Mick on the beach! Swoon!)
Unlike Moonlight, the CW’s Reaper launched with a terrific pilot, featuring Sam (Bret Harrison), an underachiever forced to become bounty hunter for the playfully manipulative Devil (the hilarious Ray Wise). But it collapsed almost instantly, unable to eke out many eeks or laughs on a weekly basis. The missions and demons weren’t scary, and Sam, though charming, proved to be an awfully passive hero. If not for the Devil and Sam’s slovenly pal Sock (Tyler Labine), Reaper was a literal sleeper.
Only recently has the show found its way, opting for twisted romantic comedy — was Sam dating the Devil’s daughter? — over soul-catching, while drawing Sam into an underground rebellion to overthrow the Devil, led by gay demon neighbors (amusingly played by Michael Ian Black and Ken Marino).
The Devil made me like Reaper, but he’s now not the only draw. Too little too late? We’ll soon see.
Moonlight airs Fridays, 9/8c, CBS
Reaper airs Tuesdays, 9/8c, The CW