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Alex O'Loughlin's Guide to Moonlight, Part 1: Episodes 1-4

Moonlight, which has enjoyed serving as a summer companion series to the CW's Vampire Diaries, was the short-lived but beloved vampire P.I. series starring Alex O'Loughlin as Mick St. John. This is the first of four articles presenting O'Loughlin's views of each episode.
moonlightAlthough Alex O'Loughlin has moved on to CBS' Hawaii 5-0, Moonlight, and his portrayal of vampire P.I. Mick St. John, is never far from his heart or the hearts of his fans. To this end, Earth's Mightiest is presenting a four part episode guide to Moonlight that features Alex's comments on each of the 16 episodes making up the series.

By Edward Gross
Moonlight should never have worked.

The critics hated it, dismissing the show with words like “anemic” and “derivative,” and deeming it nothing more than a genre stew consisting of such ingredients as Highlander (non-humans living among us in every day walks of life), Angel (vampire P.I. looking for personal salvation) and Beauty and the Beast (an impossible romance). Their cause wasn’t hurt by the fact that Moonlight’s original showrunner was Angel co-creator David Greenwalt, and its co-creator is Ron Koslow, who produced the Ron Perlman/Linda Hamilton live action Beauty and the Beast television series of the 1980s.

But the critics were wrong. The show deemed most likely to fail (and quickly) confounded everyone as it quickly began winning its Friday night at 9PM timeslot for CBS not only in the ratings, but in the even more important demographics as well. Just as importantly, it seemed to spontaneously give birth to the kind of cult fan base that most shows can only dream of having; a cult base that continues to thrive passionately despite the fact that the series only lasted a single season.

Alex O’Loughlin, who starred as vampire Mick St. John, was instantly embraced by the audience and remains one of the most popular members of the undead ever. The thrust of the series is the growing relationship between Mick and Internet reporter Beth Turner (Sophia Myles), despite the difficulties arising from their very different worlds.

For his part, O’Loughlin remains proud of what the show accomplished and what it represents. “I got to be a part of a story I really liked,” he says. “And I’ve always wanted to play a vampire since I was a kid, and that’s not something that will necessarily happen again in my life. It was just a great fit and a great experience. It was also a stressful experience. We were under budget, we were always fighting for everything we needed. We weren’t the golden child at all, we were the one that had to constantly present reasons not to be shut down.

“It was wonderful to fight for someting and keep it alive for longer than it otherwise would have been,” he continues. “It’s great to be a part of a success, even if it was for only a season. The thing is, we were able to tell some really important stories. It wasn’t just about these monstrous creatures and sexual romps. What we went for constantly is the big truth, for the human truth, the human story and that’s the reason we make films in the first place. We didn’t always hit it, but I feel that from time to time we did and that’s why we held on to the audience, because they sensed that truth.”

Episode 1
“No Such Things As Vampire”
Written by Trevor Munson & Ron Koslow
Directed by Rod Holcomb

Private eye Mick St. John and Internet reporter Beth Turner come together while investigating a murder that is the handiwork of a professor using vampire lore to seduce college students.

The episode was actually shot twice, its original pilot differing drastically from the final episode, particularly in the fact that with the exception of Alex O’Loughlin, the entire cast was changed.

“The rhythm, tonally, changed pretty dramatically,” says O’Loughlin. “You put new actors in and new stuff is going to happen. They also changed the age of the characters. For instance, Josef [Mick’s best friend, also a vampire] changed from 65 to 25, which is a dramatic shift. Plotwise, there were a bunch of ideas in the unaired pilot that we stretched across a couple of episodes.

“I think the final pilot episode felt compartmentalized,” he adds, “because we had to set our mythology up, to set up our rules. It couldn’t be 44 minutes of exposition and rule setting, so there had to be a story in there as well. But we had to set up this new myth of vampires, this new world of vampires and we had to introduce the primary characters. So we had a fair bit of work to cram into the first episode, which I think we did successfully.”

Episode 2
“Out of the Past”
Written by David Greenwalt
Directed by Fred Toye

A supposedly reformed murderer is freed from prison. Aware that Mick is a vampire, he goes back to his old ways and won’t stop until Mick turns himself into the police. In the end, while attempting to rescue a potential victim, Mick is shot with a silver bullet while Beth handles the killer. Later, she finds Mick trying to heal himself by feeding, discovering that he is a vampire.

“I really like number two,” O’Loughlin enthuses. “The end of the episode made it one of the favorites for me, because Beth finding out so early about Mick was shocking to me. First, as an actor. I thought, ‘Oh God, what are they doing? They’re going to ruin our show.’ But it actually works really well and sort of gets that discovery out of the way, allowing us to get down to brass tacks. So the show is not about, ‘Oh my God, is she going to find out?’ It’s about the relationship between these two people and the love that’s building between them.”

Episode 3
“Dr. Feelgood”
Written by Gabrielle Stanton & Harry Werksmen
Directed by by Scott Lautanen
Mick and Beth have to stop a recently turned vampire who was never “trained” by the vamp that sired him. At the same time, Beth is trying to cope with her knowledge of Mick’s vampirism, while he details how he was turned by his wife, Coraline.

O’Loughlin says, “I really like the idea of the rogue vampire. There’s a sort of sadness to it as well. The thing I love about this genre is that the metaphors are endless. It’s analogous to so many things. You look at what these vampires are struggling with and it’s exactly the same as the things we come across in our day to day lives. They’re animals trying to stay alive in this modern world. And there’s that ending where the other vampire says, ‘I understand; I see my place,’ and Mick says, ‘It’s too late’ and he has to kill him. It’s just very sad. I also felt like this episode was a little removed from the rest; it has a real standalone quality to it that separates it from the rest of the pack.”


Episode 4
Written by Jill Blotevogel
Directed by Fred Toye
Protecting a witness for Beth’s prosecutor boyfriend Josh ultimately leads to Beth and the witness trapped in an abandoned motel, where prolonged exposure to sunlight is killing Mick. Beth is called and upon arriving realizes that she has to let Mick feed on her if he’s to survive.

“There was a lot of location stuff in that episode,” O’Loughlin points out. “We all went out to the desert and shot out there for a few days. No new show has enough money, let alone an hour drama that has special effects, special make-up, is stunt heavy, shoots at night and is based in genre. This show was really shooting against all odds. To make it good can be difficult. In this episode, there are a couple of things that I wish we could have changed, but nothing in performance or storyline, just in effects and things like that. I really like the storyline and the acting. I thought the guest stars were fantastic, and overall I felt like I was watching a feature film. It was also an important episode for Josh and Mick. They were starting to get to know each other a bit more, and it was important to build that trust between them – despite the fact that feelings were developing between Mick and Beth.

“What happens at the end of that episode,” he adds, “was pretty radical. When I read it for the first time, I was, like, ‘Oh, yeah!’ That was something to write home about, and I love the way it was shot. And the fact that Beth lets him feed on her – she reaches this amazing place of comprehension. She understands his needs so clearly, and it’s evident that there’s a connection between these two.”
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