Friday, February 14, 2014

A Little Moonlight for the Vampire's Day Soiree


Welcome to the Vampire's Day Soiree and thank you to our fangtastic hostess, Holly B. Strange from Holly's Horrorland, for hosting this bloody delightful event.

My contribution to the evening's amusements is a little look at the ill-fated television series, Moonlight, which premiered in 2007. As a fan of Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Angel, I was initially pretty reticent about a show with the decidedly familiar premise of a self-loathing vampire working as a private detective in Los Angeles, but its entertaining escapism completely won me over. Sadly, in spite of a devoted fan base, CBS cancelled the show after one season, but I, and no doubt many others, continue to enjoy re-watching it on DVD. The following may contain some spoilers, but if you haven't seen the show, I've tried to avoid giving too much away.

The Moonlight backstory involves a 30 year old Mick St. John falling for the charms of a femme fatale, Coraline, back in the fifties. Unbeknownst to Mick, Coraline is a vampire, and on their wedding night, she turns Mick against his will. Repulsed by the idea he is now a "monster", but still drawn to his wife, Mick continues an on-again-off-again, tempestuous relationship with her for many years, until Coraline kidnaps a four year old child, Beth Turner, in an attempt to create a little instant family with Mick. After a brutal fight, Mick rescues the little girl and leaves Coraline to die in a burning building... or so he thinks.

All grown up, Beth crosses paths with Mick again 23 years later when he, a PI, and she a reporter, end up both investigating a case involving vampire-style serial killings. Naturally, they've instantly got the hots for each other, but also naturally, there are plenty of complications, not the least of which is Beth's boyfriend in the district attorney's office, and the return of Mick's not-so-dead, undead wife.

So what exactly do I love about Moonlight ?

The Vampire Look
I completely dig the vampire makeup effects in Moonlight. They got exactly the right balance between creepy and cool. The look is sinister and corpse-like with the cloudy irises, pale skin, and a slight look of decay, but not completely grotesque. And the teeth! I could write an entire post just on my obsession with vampire fangs. The Moonlight fangs are perfect, needle-sharp canines, just the way I like 'em! ;)

Dark Glamour
Set in a modern, urban context, Moonlight still manages to carry on a grand tradition of depicting vampires as the aristocracy of the monster world. The show's main vampires - Mick, Josef and Coraline - are all examples of dark, upscale elegance and style. Joseph is a filthy rich business man living a luxurious existence, and even Mick, with the more modest occupation of private investigator, has a very high-end apartment/office at the top of a towering, gargoyled building in Los Angeles.

Mythology
Moonlight created and maintained a strong vampire mythology that was in part unique and in part borrowed from more traditional conventions.

  • Wooden stakes paralyze, making the vampire appear dead, but removal of the stake means they are good to go again, whereas decapitation or fire kills them.
  • Silver is toxic to vamps, and excessive exposure can kill them. They were once unable to be photographed because of the silver emulsion in film, but digital photography changed that.
  • Sunlight will eventually kill them too, although they don't burst into flames at the touch of the sun's rays. 
  • There are no issues with garlic, crucifixes, and mirrors.
  • It is explained that vampire bodies are in an extremely slow and protracted process of decay, and to delay this further, they sleep in freezers.
  • One means of obtaining human blood is via morgue workers who siphon off and sell the blood of corpses.
  • The vampire community has rules designed to protect its secrecy. Any vampire deliberately attempting to 'out' others in the community is considered a threat and is dealt with swiftly and without mercy.
  • There is a thriving subculture of  humans referred to by the vamps as "freshies". They are willing to provide blood for either profit, perks, or simply for pleasure. Wealthy Josef surrounds himself with beautiful groupies who are more than happy to let him tap a vein when the mood strikes him in exchange for enjoying the fringe benefits of his lavish lifestyle.
History
The immortal nature of a vampire gives plenty of opportunity for historical flashbacks in vampire stories, and Moonlight took advantage of this. We saw glimpses of Mick in the 1950s and serving as a medic in World War 2. Also, much like Sleepy Hollow is doing now, Moonlight wove real historical events into its own mythology. In flashbacks to Coraline as a courtesan in early 18th century France, we learn that in the Moonlight universe, the French Revolution was in reality a mass vampire purge, hence the use of the guillotine for decapitation. The French aristocracy was apparently riddled with vampirism, taking the concept of a parasitic nobility to its ultimate conclusion.

Coraline and Josef
In a nutshell, Coraline (Shannyn Sossamon) is the character you love to hate. She is a beautiful, smug bitch, thereby perfectly serving the purpose of making it blissfully easy to be on Team Beth.

Josef (played by the adorable Jason Dohring) is Mick's 400 year old best friend, and is an utter delight as the show's lovable rogue. Unlike Mick, Josef relishes his vampiric existence. He's shallow and self-centred, but equally, he'll do absolutely anything to help Mick. He uses hilariously arrogant gestures like snapping his fingers to signal his employees to leave a room, and he delivers some of the show's best lines.
Mick:  So, are  we gonna find your designers at the bottom of the tar pits?
Josef: Mick, please, I don't have the energy to kill everyone who pisses me off... I have to hire some people.

Josef: [to Mick] Hey, you have a soft spot for the mortal ones. A fascination with all the charming things they do while listening to the tick tick tick of their own looming demise. That's fine, that's good. Everyone needs a hobby.

Beth: This is great, I feel like I'm back at my High School Prom.
Josef: You know Prom wasn't really big back in the 1700s. High School either. The Plague... The Plague was big.
The Soundtrack
As with shows like Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Supernatural, Moonlight uses numerous songs in each episode to convey mood. I love a good TV/movie soundtrack!

Tongue in Cheek Humour
You can't really escape a certain amount of cheesiness and melodrama in a story that deals with a paranormal romance, but Moonlight provided plenty of cheeky quips to prevent the show ever taking itself too seriously.
Beth: I can't believe this double standard. I had to  spend two hours getting myself up to club admissionability, and you're just wearing the same thing you always wear.

Mick: Yes, well, perpetual coolness is the vampire's curse.
Mick and Beth
And last but not least, there are Mick and Beth, played by Australian actor, Alex O'Loughlin, and English actress, Sophia Myles, respectively. Adopting American accents for their roles, they had a natural charm and chemistry that was completely endearing.

I'd like to thank you so much for joining me for the Vampire's Day Soiree and if you would care to mingle with the other guests, just stroll on over to Holly's Horrorland.



54 comments:

  1. The producers of Moonlight should hire you. I've never watched the show, but now I know I will. I can't wait to observe Coraline (see how she thinks, for she sounds like a research psychologist dream). And Beth, oh wow, to cross the path with her childhood hero/rescuer. That has to put many points against the boyfriend.

    Yum!

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    1. Oh, Coraline would absolutely make a fascinating subject for a little psychological analysis, Magaly. If the series had continued, I think they could have done a lot with her character. She liked to mess with people's minds and used her beauty to twist men around her little finger, but the glimpses of her origin story, back in 18th century France, shed some light on why she might be somewhat damaged psychologically. Towards the end of the show's run, her character seemed to be evolving. Sadly, we'll never know where they might have gone with her.

      Yes, the ongoing storyline involving Beth's boyfriend was very awkward, messy and complicated - pretty much like real life - and its dramatic peak is one of my favourite episodes.

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  2. Ahhh, I really love when a series goes to a lot of effort to do some good world building. All that mythology sounded very good and well thought out! The French Revolution thing is a great idea! If course that was why they used the guillotine, it all makes sense now!

    I adore Shannon Sossamon, I think she is one of the most naturally beautiful people ever, I wonder if I would be on her team?

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    1. The attention to detail with the mythology was a huge plus for me with this show, Laura. Not only did it build a rich world for the characters and stories, but I tend to get distracted when there are inconsistencies in a show's lore and it pulls me out of the narrative somewhat. I may have squealed a little when they incorporated the French Revolution into the story. ;) The decadence of the French aristocracy was so perfectly suited to vampire imagery, and the guillotine... as you say, "it all makes sense now!" ;D

      Yes, Shannyn Sossamon is stunning! She looked especially fabulous in all the glamorous fifties costumes. Her character wasn't very nice though. She was manipulative and somewhat cruel. However, she did seem to be attempting to redeem herself to some extent and I think they could have gone to some interesting places with Coraline if the show had continued. *sigh*

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  3. Oh wow! What a brilliant post.
    I've never heard of this series, but you've made me want to watch it.

    I agree with you on their Vampiric look, creepy and cool.

    Yay! for sharp pointy fangs :)

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    1. Aww... thank you, Yvonne! :)

      Yes, the 'Moonlight' vamp effects really impressed me. I'm completely OCD regarding fang position (seriously), and I could go on and on about screen vampires and the different styles of teeth. Haha. I just loved the fact that the 'Moonlight' vamps looked creepy and menacing when they vamped-out, but still human. As much as I adored 'Buffy', the vampire faces were overkill to me.

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  4. I am the biggest Buffy-fan, and I also really liked Moonlight - and Alex O'Loughlin is one hot tamale... As I understand it it was the Hollywood writer's strike that put the nail in the coffin of this show. Very sad indeed.

    Happy Valentine's!

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    1. Happy Valentine's, Ms Misantropia!

      Yep, I couldn't agree more! Alex O'Loughlin is definitely "one hot tamale"! ;D And you're right, the Hollywood writer's strike absolutely did derail the show to some extent. The decision by CBS to cancel was really shortsighted though. At the time, I was so hoping another TV network would save 'Moonlight', but alas, it was not to be.

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  5. Wow! You've done an excellent job of making "Moonlight" sound like a most intriguing program to watch. I guess I'll be heading over to Netflix in order to see if they have it.

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    1. Thank you, Nightwind, but I'm starting to worry that I've built it up so much that you'll watch it and say, "What on earth was she on about?!" Haha. It wasn't perfect, by any means, but I definitely found it thoroughly enjoyable, and I was very sad to see it disappear before its time.

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  6. It's weird how TV studios love crime shows and sitcoms to the point where they get hundreds of episodes, yet genre shows don't seem to get the respect they deserve.

    I avoided this show when it came out, because I think the ads made it sound Twilight-y. I'm regretting that decision now!

    The fangs in this show sure seem better than the cardboard ones in the film I'll be reviewing for the vampire soiree!

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    1. I know, right?! Genre shows are always the first ones to get shafted, Chris. Humph!

      'Moonlight' is not high art (Whatever that means. Haha.), but I found it very entertaining, and for what it's worth, I didn't like 'Twilight' at all (I only subjected myself to the first installment.).

      I checked out the vampire fangs in your post. Hilarious! They fall into the so-bad-they're-good category! ;D

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  7. I loved this show so much. It was the main reason I looked forward to Friday nights, and was THE topic of conversation at my office every Monday morning while it was on air. I (with some sadness) purchased the entire series on DVD as soon as it came out...and every time I see a promo for Hawaii 5-0 I mourn it.

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    1. I'm right there with you, Guin! It's particularly disappointing because I remember reading some interviews with the shows producers and writers about story ideas they were toying with for the second season, and it sounded like it was going to be so good. Things like Beth being caught in the middle of a war between the vampires and an ancient order of vampire hunters. They could have expanded on the old European vampires, Coraline, and the mortal cure too! :(

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  8. I never watched "Moonlight" but I want to now. Thanks for a very eye opening post and come round to see our entry in Holly's wonderful event. Oma Linda
    http://yeoldecronesgazette.blogspot.com/2014/02/vampire-soiree-2014a-bit-of-switch.html

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    1. Thanks, Oma Linda! :) There was a fangtastic turnout for the soiree this year! I'm still working my way around to everyone... and the sun will be up soon. Yikes! ;) Looking forward to seeing your post!

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  9. Ooh! This sounds cool! Thanks for the heads up on a new series to watch.

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    1. My pleasure, Kestril Trueseeker! I hope you get around to seeing it. :)

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  10. It sounds like a show killed before it's time. Like Firefly with better waistcoats. A fine offering to the Soiree and a joy to read. I'll certainly keep an eye out for this one. Might I suggest Marketing as a sideline occupation? You certainly have a knack.

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    1. Haha. Thank you, Narrator! Although, I think I only have a penchant for enthusing incessantly about things I really enjoy. I imagine I'd be a dud marketer if I was kinda "meh" about the product. ;D

      Yes, 'Firefly' was another great genre show that was shafted. :/

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  11. Emma. So glad you chose this show to high light here. I had been hearing about it for years and had the opportunity to get the DVD last year and watched it one show a week--so as to prolong my enjoyment of it. Shame on CBS for not bring it back. This was an excellent show. It was about relationships and some of these shows pack an emotional wallop!

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    1. Yes, Beth and Mick were such a sweet pairing and there was plenty of angst because of the seemingly doomed nature of their relationship, Lorelei. And as Ms Misantropia pointed out, Alex O'Loughlin was such a hottie! ;) Shame on CBS indeed!

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  12. Magaly showed off Drusilla, and I had to drop in! I too, love the elegance and romance of the dark tales! I'm very happy it is so popular!!! Finally! xoDebi

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    1. Hi Debi! Thanks for dropping by. :) I loved Magaly's tale about my little Drusilla! That was so sweet of her.

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  13. HOW DID I MISS THIS!! Yep having a HUGE fan base does not a continued series guarantee... Firefly where art thou ;) So I guess I should not say has Pirate Bay got it LOL, it really sounds/LOOKS awesome, if you had done their marketing they may have still been making episodes today :)

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    1. Yeah, poor 'Firefly'! Another gross miscarriage of television justice!

      I've got the DVD of 'Moonlight', but I think the episodes are even on YouTube (don't know how long that will last before they're discovered and taken down though).

      Haha. Yes, I'm beginning to think that if I'd only been blogging back in 2007, we might actually have saved the show!

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  14. I just loved this series. shame there was only one season

    ... :) ...
    blessings

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    1. Yes, it was so disappointing that CBS dumped 'Moonlight', Sacred Keep! At least, I've got it on DVD so I can re-watch the first season... again and again and again... ;)

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  15. Wow! I don't know how this programme passed me by! Thank you so much for the heads up (pun intended) I love the sharp teeth and the milky eyes; I love the rationale for vampires not showing up on old film and I really, really love the idea that the Terror was a campaign to destroy the plague of vampires in the French aristocracy! I'll have to see if this is on Netflix!

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    1. Yes, it was a squeal-worthy bit of genius on the part of the writers when they came up with the idea of tying the use of the guillotine during the Terror to the fact that decapitation is one of the fail-safe methods of vampire slaying, Rhissanna. They really thought through the rationale for all the lore on the show and I really love that kind of attention to detail. I hope you can find it on Netflix! :)

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  16. ..and thank you for this charming reminisce. I loved this show when it came out, and wanted to live in that apartment. :D XXX

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    1. Oh, I'd love to live in that apartment too, Gina! It was so luxuriously cool! And the gargoyles... *swoon*

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  17. I loved this show. I need to buy it. You just reminded me of all the reasons. Great blog post.

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    1. Thanks, Melinda! :) Yes, there's nothing like being able to wallow in it on DVD. ;D

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  18. Thank you so much for sharing us this show! I don't know how I missed it? It looks, sounds and "tastes" delicious! I have to go get the DVD now! Nice to meet you ;o)

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    1. Hi Magic Love Crow! Nice to meet you too! :) Yes, it is delicious, particularly the tasty Mick St. John. He never disappoints. ;D

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    1. Aww... thank you so much, Magic Love Crow! ❤

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    2. Thank you for your kind comments on my blog ;o)

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    3. My pleasure, Magic Love Crow! Your artwork is lovely! :)

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  20. This show is definately one of my favorite ones too <3

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    1. I re-watched the series before I wrote this post, Leena, and guess what? I've just started watching it again from the beginning. It's addictive! ;D

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  21. I remember seeing commercials for this and it intrigued me, but I never checked it out. Now I really wish I had!
    Hopefully it's on YouTube. I also hope it'll be covered in my History of Horror TV class, so I can watch it as homework. :)
    If not, I shall buy the DVDs, cause I must see it now!
    Thanks again for helping make the soiree a smashing success! <3

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    1. Oh, I hope you get around to watching it, Holly! It's delicious, vampire-y goodness! ;)

      My pleasure! ❤ I love the Vampire's Day Soiree! It's just so my kinda thing!

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  22. Joining the chorus of those who hadn't heard of this one. Thanks!

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  23. No Way! Ok, so I watched one episode (just one) and I loved it. Then I waited (and waited) for it to come back but it never did. I guess I saw the final episode of the season. I had no idea what it was called so I didn't know how to look for it. I'm going to find those dvds now and watch the rest of the season :)

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    1. Oh, I'm so glad I helped solve that mystery for you, Jessie! Sadly, there was only one series, which was only 16 episodes, but if you're anything like me, you'll want to watch them over and over... and over! ;D

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  24. I will definitely check this show!!! Thaaank you my dear lady for sharing your info and thoughts about it <3

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    1. Thank you, Magda! :) Hope you get a chance to watch 'Moonlight'. I think you'd enjoy it!

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  25. Now those are some intense vampire shows. The bloodier the better.

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    1. Mercifully, there was no sparkling either, Lady Lilith! ;)

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  26. I remember this series! I really enjoyed it and can't understand why they cancelled it. It's like the same with the mystery of "Firefly." I loved the pics - like a trip down memory lane. :)

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    1. I'm re-watching the series on DVD at the moment, Lexa, and I've been wondering to myself whether 'Moonlight' might have survived if it had been shot in Canada rather than the more expensive LA location.

      Yes, genre shows often get a raw deal, which seems crazy to me because they may not have huge mainstream audiences, but they usually have super-dedicated fanbases. Surely there's money to be made via syndication, merchandising, etc.

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