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Jumping in here, apropos of nothing but the invite over on moonlight_tv (which, I agree, can be a bit gushy). So far I've only lurked there, as I do on most LJs I'm a member of; I'm not online much anymore, not like I was back when I had a desk job with a T1 connected PC in front of me all day. Now I'm an RN and I just don't have that kind of time at work -- nor do I have a desk or a PC at work. *frowns* Then again, my tendinitis is much improved these days, so... good with the bad, etc.

Now before I launch into those aspects of Moonlight with which I get fairly annoyed, let me start out by saying first that I'm very smitten with Moonlight. I started watching it on CBS' web site because I was never home on Friday nights when it was on. I knew I wanted to check it out before it premiered because (1) it was a vampire show (I love the vampire genre), (2) because Jason Dohring was on it (terribly underutilized and typecast in Veronica Mars' last season -- I think Josef Konstantin will be a much meatier role for him to display and expand his acting chops and I'm looking forward to that); and (3) because it was a neo noir detective type show -- but combined with vampires!

But I was also afraid it was going to suck because of the bad press I'd read about the re-casting and re-shooting of the pilot, and I've been so disappointed by falling in love with shows that got so quickly canceled (Veronica Mars, Deadwood, Due South... all the way back to the original vampire detective, Nick Knight on Forever Knight). So I wasn't about to get all sucked in to yet another show that I would fall in love with, only to have it canceled or threatened with cancellation in three seasons or less, and end with many unresolved storylines, etc.

But against my better judgment, I got hooked on the webisodes of Moonlight. Drat the pesky good looks of Alex O'Loughlin. (Yeah, right!) By episode 6 (B.C.), I was making time to watch it on Friday night -- when possible. As I don't have cable, satellite or Tivo, I ended up getting suckered into Amazon Unbox downloads -- yep, a season subscription to Moonlight. I have never done that for any show before.

In addition to all that, there is the inherent angst of a vampire who doesn't want to be a vampire, who wants to be human again, and can't -- and who may love a human woman but can never really be with her. Oh the humanity! It drove the whole Nick/Nat relationship on Forever Knight, and then the Buffy/Angel (and later Buffy/Spike) relationships on BTVS (not to mention the angst of Anne Rice's Louis, the reluctant "monster"). What's not to love?! (I mean, if you love angst like I do.)

What follows is a rather long post behind the cut, which I had the luxury of composing because I have had the luxury of watching Moonlight episodes multiple times as they are on my computer and I can hook it up to my TV now (so geekified). But, honest, these were inconsistencies I had noticed while I was watching the episodes fresh -- I only had to go back and rewatch eps to verify inconsistencies and search for the original or first occurrences, so I could prove the inconsistencies that came later.



What sealed the deal and really hooked me was -- I admit it -- Alex O'Loughlin's angsty good looks as Mick St. John and the chemistry he had with Sophia Myles' portrayal of Beth. I admit, the show is very eye-candy-ish; everyone on Moonlight is pretty easy on the eyes. And it's nice to watch a show about people who are supposed to be about 10 years older than Buffy and her pals. I don't feel quite so old or silly watching it. Plus, when the dialogue works, it works -- it gets snappy and snarky and it's getting better all the time. So I'm hooked on Moonlight, despite the inconsistent and cliched writing of the first couple eps, and the continued inconsistences in the rest of the episodes.

Moonlight also has enough hallmarks of a neo noir detective show to please us old noir fans: (1) voice over narration (which harks back as far as "Double Indemnity," if not farther) (2) a PI who's seen too much but has a good heart (good enough to do the right thing, which can be painfully difficult and often seems like the wrong thing to do) (3) and a shiny, sexy, decadent SoCal noir look & feel, especially the way actors ("body image freaks" as Morgan/Coraline says in "Fleur De Lis"), film producers (in "12:04 AM") or Beth's editor at BuzzWire are portrayed. But it uses all these ingredients in what I would call an updated, 21st century SoCal noir way. It also has, so far, a plucky post-feminist "girl Friday" (Beth -- who is also a reporter! double score!) and a femme fatale (Morgan/Coraline). So: genre expectations met and exceeded for a PI/noir show: check! Genre expectations met and exceeded for a vampire show: check! All systems are go.

Most of the time I also like the music used on Moonlight. How can you not love a show that uses Front Line Assembly -- as well other Leeb & Fulber (of Front Line Assembly/Intermix/Delerium fame) music, including Fauxliage's song Let It Go at the end of the ep Dr. Feelgood, when Mick tells Beth how he became a vampire? Not to mention the well-placed use of Dave Gahan's (of Depeche Mode) solo song "Kingdom" over the scenes of "Morgan" wiping the coverup off her fleur de lis tattoo at the end of The Ringer. Sometimes the music is overmixed louder than the dialogue, but mostly it isn't, and mostly it's well done and I like it.

But, as the mod here pointed out in the invitation, it doesn't have to be good to be entertaining... And despite being smitten with Moonlight, the writing, even much-improved on later episodes, is just loaded with logical inconsistencies -- within episodes and from episode to episode.

Now, unlike many people, I don't mind the way Moonlight plays with vampire mythology. Many new vamp universes reinvent the mythology, from Anne Rice to Chelsea Quinn Yarbro to Joss Whedon/Angel&BTVS. I remember being really put off by the way the vamps on BTVS turned "lumpy" and ugly when they vamped out, instead of becoming sexier ala Anne Rice and the original Dracula (Bram Stoker). Another example of changing the mythology was that Stoker's Dracula couldn't cross water unless he had earth from his own native land (hence the boxes of earth he brought with him on the ship when he came to England). Chelsea Quinn Yarbro's vampire Saint-Germain got around that by putting the earth in layers within the soles of his shoes -- so he could go anywhere, cross any river, stream, etc. Clever, eh?

So I'm okay with Moonlight's "stakes don't kill vampires, they only paralyze them" twist on the mythology, and the sun severely weakening them rather than causing them to burst into flames. They still die from beheading and being set on fire, which are pretty final ways of killing anyone, vampire or not. And I like how they've incorporated the gangster/organized crime concept of "the cleaner" (from movies like Pulp Fiction and La Femme Nikita/Point of No Return) into modern, 21st century vampirism (in the ep Dr. Feelgood).

What I'm not okay with are the inconsistencies they've created within the use of their new mythology. Stakes paralyze -- except in Dr. Feelgood, when Mick's muscles move well enough, despite the stake in his heart, to speak and tell Beth to take out the stake. And stakes paralyze vampires -- except when Mick staked Coraline (in flashbacks, when she took Beth as a child) and left her on her back on the floor in a burning room -- yet somehow, Coraline magically stands at the security door as Mick takes off with little Beth. But, okay, fine: Anne Rice had Lestat survive his throat being cut and a fiery inferno. So I'll cut Moonlight some slack there, and we still haven't had the full explanation of Coraline's death and reappearance as human. So maybe that will be explained in future eps.

Another inconsistency: we get various ages for Mick in various episodes. In the first ep NSTAV ("No Such Thing As Vampires"), Josef says to Mick "You're only 90, you've never been chased by a torch-bearing mob." Then in "Dr. Feelgood" Mick tells Beth "I'm gonna be eighty-five this November."

Mick also says in "NSTAV," "Sixty years is a long time to deny yourself the touch of another. But you do it because you just can't bear the thought of seeing yourself as a monster in someone else's eyes." Okay -- what exactly does Mick mean by "the touch of another"? Another vampire? Another human? Because certainly, he wasn't denied the touch of a vampire for sixty years. He was with Coraline off and on from their wedding in 1952 (we learn in NSTAV and various other eps) until she took Beth in 1985. That's 33 years of off and on. Even if he was "denied the touch of another" after he killed Coraline in 1985, that still means he has only been denied the touch of someone for 22 years since Coraline died (2007-1985=22).

So if it's 2007 now, and he was denied the touch of another for 60 years (as he says in NSTAV) and by "the touch of another" he means a human that would still mean 2007-60years=1947. So is he saying that no one's touched him since 1947? Because that's not true. Even if no one human had touched him in 60 years, the flashbacks of his meeting with Coraline show that he met her in 1952 -- 5 years after 1947. So, was he celibate for those five years before he met Coraline? I doubt it very much. (And why would he have been, since he wasn't yet a vampire and therefore would not have been seen as "a monster" in someone else's eyes?)

Maybe this is just really bad math. If he's 85 this past November (which just ended) as he told Beth in Dr. Feelgood, that means he was born in 1922. So let's say he hit puberty in 1936 (he would have been 14 then). He told Beth he was 30 when Coraline turned him in 1952. Even if he had remained a virgin until he was twenty, that still gives him ten years of playing the field (from 1942 to 1952) before he met Coraline, proposed, got married, and she turned him into a vampire. That's still not 60 years from now to be "denied the touch of another."

But okay -- let's toss aside complaints about inconsistencies in the first episode, since that was apparently written and re-written and cast and re-cast and who knows what else while they were getting their sh-t together this past summer. Okay, fine. Moving right along...

There are multiple episodes (Out of the Past, for example, but pick any episode with Mick driving around in his convertible Benz with the top down) where Mick and Beth drive around with the top down in his convertible and their hair never moves. Come on, continuity people! You should at least be blowing a big fan on them so their hair moves and gets tousled! I mean, I know they are really in a car in a studio against a blue (or green) screen -- but try to make it at least a little more realistic! Even Forever Knight put a little breeze in their hair sometimes!

Now let's talk about the episodes "The Ringer" and "Fleur de Lis" and the logical inconsistencies in them.

Early on in "The Ringer", Mick says to Josef (about Morgan), "She's not a vampire. I was close enough to tell."

Josef replies, "Well, Mick, if she's not a vampire, then she can't be Coraline."

Much later in the same ep, Mick brings Josef in on the action -- and Josef verifies for Mick that Morgan is, in fact, human and not vampire. Josef says,
"But Mick, it isn't Coraline. I could smell Morgan in there. She wasn't a vampire. She's a human. And there's no way to assimilate that fact into any conspiracy theory about Coraline coming back."

So then why, near the end of The Ringer, in the cemetery, why does Mick sniff at Morgan and say "You're bleeding -- how are you bleeding? You should have healed by now. How are you bleeding?"

Um, because she's human? Mick, you already told Josef she's human. And Josef already verified this. So of course she's bleeding! She could not have healed by now -- because she is not a vampire as you and Josef have already verified!

Then, in the episode Fleur de Lis, Beth goes to see Josef. She says, "I need to talk to you about Mick. I know you're his friend. It's his ex-wife, Coraline."

"Coraline died a long time ago," Josef tells Beth.

"I don't think she did," Beth replies. "I think she survived and became human and is masquerading as Morgan Vincent."

Josef says, "I met Morgan. And sure she looks like Coraline -- a lot like Coraline. But it's not her. Morgan is not a vampire." [my emphasis]

Okay, great, good: Morgan is not a vampire. However -- given that Mick (in The Ringer) and Josef (in The Ringer and in Fleur de Lis) both say that Morgan is human, why does Beth stake Morgan?? She's already been told by two vampires who knew Coraline when she was a vampire that Morgan isn't a vampire, she's a human.

Okay, maybe Beth staking Morgan/Coraline is supposed to be poetic justice. But when Beth stakes Morgan/Coraline, Mick says,

"No, no, no! What are you doing?! What have you done?"
Beth says, "Stakes don't kill vampires, they just paralyze them."
Mick: "She's not a vampire."
Beth: "She's Coraline! You just said so yourself!"
Mick: "She's Coraline but she's not a vampire! Not anymore! She's human. There's a cure. She has a cure!"

But Beth already knew from both Mick and Josef that Morgan was human, even if she was really Coraline returned and masquerading as Morgan Vincent. And Beth is the one who suggested to Josef that Morgan is Coraline returned as a human!. So why stake her? And why say "Stakes don't kill vampires, they just paralyze them?" if she already knew Morgan/Coraline wasn't a vampire, she was human?? Major inconsistency, writers! Major!

Those are the most glaring inconsistencies in Moonlight. They are such a bummer. Because when they leap out at me (and they do; I can't help it, I pay attention to continuity and things like that!) -- when they leap out at me, they take me right out of the story and the show and that kind of ruins it for me, which is very disappointing and quite a bummer.

However, I would like to give props to some of the dialog which has improved with each episode. In Fleur De Lis, in Beth's conversation with Josef, there's some dialog worthy of an old Bogie noir flick like The Big Sleep:

Beth: "What if Coraline found a way to become human again?"

Josef: "Boy, first Mick, now you. There is no cure for vampirism. There's no magic pill, no click your ruby slippers together and rejoin the mortal coil. Becoming a vampire is a one way street."

Beth: "There has to be a way. I think Mick--"

Josef: "Look, when it comes to Coraline, Mick doesn't think with his big head."

[That exchange reminded me of the line from The Big Sleep, where the old man says, "You've met my daughter?" and Bogie replies, "Yeah, she tried to sit in my lap while I was standing up."

Another choice exchange between Beth and Josef in Fleur De Lis:

Josef: " 'Kay, you have to understand. Mick and Coraline's relationship was one of those terrifying, completely self-destructive freak shows that you spend your whole life searching for, knowing it can only end in one or both of you dead."

Beth: "That's your idea of love?"

Josef: "What can I tell you? I'm a romantic."

Love it. Love it, love it, love it. Writers: more like this!! Less inconsistencies!!

* * *

Now, I don't read spoilers for the episodes. So I don't actually know what is going to happen.

But based on the setup in The Ringer and Fleur De Lis (POSSIBLE SPOILERS AHEAD!) I can see this one coming a mile away: Morgan/Coraline, being human, and having had a large spike of wood shoved into her abdomen by Beth, will hover near death until Mick does the only thing he can do to save her -- turns her back into a vampire. And that will just complicate and make things more interesting -- and worse for Mick.

And, undoubtedly, Coraline will dangle the secret of becoming human over Mick's head to mess with him for the rest of the season -- and to keep him coming back for more because, well, it's the terrifying, completely self-destructive freak show he spent his whole life searching for and ended in her death -- and resurrection, somehow, and return as a human, and severe, possible fatal injury as said human; and likely Mick will turn her, again, into a vampire. So he can feel twice as guilty: once for killing her as a vamp, and then for condemning her to a life of eternal darkness as a vampire again, after she made it back to being human. Oh the dreamy angst!! (END POSSIBLE SPOILERS)

I wish there were some way I could communicate my annoyance with the writing inconsistencies while at the still time communicating how much I love this show for what it already has and for it's obvious potential. So far, I haven't been able to think of any... but if anyone else does, feel free to comment and let me know.

As with superhero stories and other sci-fi/fantasy stories/shows, what makes dramas involving vampires or (insert your favorite superhero here) so affecting is that their special circumstances and powers only provide a more extreme spectrum of behavior and backdrop for the drama of the human condition -- all those decisions and coincidences and things we do, and wish we hadn't or could undo -- or things we didn't do, and wish we had done, or could re-do.

These shows are really about us humans -- about unrequited love, about obstacles to love, obstacles to honesty, about hiding one's true self, about fear of intimacy, about how it is safer but far less fulfilling to keep one's distance and lurk on the edges of intimacy than it is to risk the dangers of self-disclosure and exposure and the possibility of rejection -- ultimately, about how individuals fear being truly known because they fear they're not worthy of being loved, or that if their powers or flaws or monstrousness were truly known and seen by another, they would lose that love.

In addition to all that, there is also the possibility of redemption that these characters long for -- as we all do (at least, those of us well-adjusted enough to know we're not perfect, we've made mistakes, we've done things wrongly or badly and wish we could do it again and get it right). So I really hate it when people who never watch vampire or scifi/fantasy/superhero shows or movies talk about how juvenile they are, when in fact, these stories are about as universal as the myths of the ancient Greeks and Romans were. I'm not saying it's Shakespeare, but there's a reason they're so affecting. Which is why it's so annoying when they're done half-a--ed as some eps of Moonlight seem to have been written! It takes you right out of the story.

I'm done now... and I thank you for your time and attention to my, er, ranty gush. Or gushy rant. Or... I don't know quite what it is.

Comments

verushka70
Dec. 4th, 2007 10:56 pm (UTC)
Gorgeous cinamatography? When I read that line, the first thing to come to mind was the car scenes where it looks like the old movies where the street's really a rotating screen.


Well, it's true, that does happen -- but I find a lot of the outdoor location shots have a very noir feel, as do a lot of the interior scenes too (especially when they use deep focus shots or when they rack focus, like in B.C. when Beth is researching drugs, and she's sharply in focus; then they rack focus to the vial of black crystal in the near foreground, and Beth becomes blurry in the background). (It still amazes me that feature films often have a job title of "Focus Puller" in the credits -- the person whose only job is to rack focus the camera lens.) They also have used some typical noir scenarios (ala Fleur De Lis, the step-son and wife as lovers plotting to kill the father/husband).

I saw an Alex O'Loughlin interview snippet on Youtube earlier this afternoon, from early in the season when CBS' new fall promo stuff was going on, and Alex mentioned that it was supposed to be noir. So I was glad to see that I wasn't imagining the noir feel -- they actually put it in there on purpose. But, you're right -- the scenes driving in Mick's car are often so obviously not occurring on a real road.

But word on the inconsistancies, though there's only going to be another two eps for this to play out . . . *sigh*


Really? Is that how many episodes they had "in the can" before the WGA went on strike?

fairest1
Dec. 5th, 2007 01:40 am (UTC)
Okay, so some of it's nice . . . but the car scenes distract the hell out of me. Unless the car scenes are supposed to harken back to the old noir films where the budget required they go for the rotating screen . . .

Also, this will never stop niggling at me: The fact that the series started with Beth walking barefoot across a crime scene and taking a photo of the naked corpse -- including the bite marks.

First, that's contaminating a crime scene. Second, I took Journalism in high school. I won't say that it's the same as being in the business, but we did cover ethics. If you said that it's okay to publish a photo of a naked corpse(even with major bits covered), with a focus on the killer's MO, you would have failed.

Yep. At least from what I heard. And even if things smooth out and they make all planned eps, there were only twelve planned out, as far as I know.

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Moonlight: We Watch It For The LOLs.

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