Moonlight: Trashing Trash Culture and A Tale of Requited Love.

I woke up early this morning thinking about vampires.

Okay, quite honestly, I didn’t wake up thinking about them so much as I was having a “contagion” dream. When suddenly, the Spousal Unit starts thrashing about the bed in the throes of a crampy calf muscle. The substantial amount of guttural cursing from the opposite side of the bed would tend to wake anyone; even the dead.

He worked it out and, after popping a magnesium pill and drinking a little water, he was shortly on his way back to that restful place beyond place. The S.U. will most likely sleep through Armageddon. And if woken up, will be able to fall back to sleep until something a little more interesting happens or the alarm clock goes off; whichever comes first. But unfortunately for me, given my tendencies toward ADD, anything that wakes me up, keeps me up.

So, I’m lying there trying to puzzle out the dream. It involved vampires traveling across country. Up until this point their spread had been prevented by some sort of linked rules. In this case, Rule 1056; which coupled with another rule or law, prevented them from spreading their contagion.

The vampires had found a loophole or workaround. Obviously we are talking a mutation of a natural sort, say viral or biotic, either that or some sort of human political maneuvering. Nevertheless, they were on the move. I kept seeing the rules with some golden yellow digital icon beside them. Ah well, a mystery to keep me occupied throughout the day.

As I had started to mentally wander off into my list of chores for today, my current gripes with our PV system and the contractor who installed it and the 3 feral “rescue” kittens that are now occupying the basement needing a home, it became evident that I was not going back to sleep. So I snuggled up to the SU murmuring threats of dismemberment; kissed him and got up to start my day at 4:30 a.m.

Marmalade Click me to see my sibs.

It was well before sunrise and if there were vampires around, they had ample opportunity to inveigle their way into the house. Working on the theme for today, I decided to complete a chore left unfinished last night: chopping up last year’s garlic. What I couldn’t save for eating, was going into organic pest repellant. And again we touch upon vermin as bringers of disease, or sadly, politics.

I realized, in the midst of my peeling, chopping and dream pondering, that last evening I had seen an episode of television’s latest whoring of the vampire craze: “Moonlight”. Or rather listened to most of it and viewed a bit of it as I worked in my studio.

Hey, give me a break. It was that or So You Think You Can Dance with America’s Most Talented Big Brother Idol in Hell’s Kitchen.

To the part of my mind that likes a little verbal distraction to ward off negative self-talk, most “prime time” television is pretty much on par with golf. It’s not so boring that it fails to distract the “super-ego” (i.e. critical) part of my brain, but lacking anything captivating enough to actually engage my attention or imagination.

I don’t usually comment on Trash Culture. That would be like critiquing the food at Taco Bell. What, exactly, would be the point? It’s ubiquitous and uniformly the same; no matter what sort of wrapper you put it in. Perhaps it’s my age, but seeing the same 5 ingredients combined in different ways, pawned off as worthy of ingestion simply because it is in a different wrapper, has become rather dreary.

But regarding this particular Post-Modern Pu-Pu Platter; what makes it especially offensive is the exceptionally wooden acting from the male and female leads. In a story as old as time or at least as old as the American narrative, the warrior hero and his damsel in distress can never be. They must forestall. Failing that, she must die.

Perhaps this uniquely New World genre was a rejection of the louche habits of Old Europe. Perhaps it was formed by the Puritan ethic that moved through the Enlightenment era resulting in the seminal work of the genre: “Last of the Mohicans”.

American heroes never really “get the girl”. That pleasure is reserved, in our ethos, for tales of romantic love or domesticity. There is a restlessness that lies just beneath the surface of our hero tales. One that suggests committing to a singular course or cause leads to a death of sorts. And women often wonder why some men are commitment phobic.

Here, I stray into a level of discourse this TV trifle does not deserve; so back to the juiciness of holy water, blood, stalking and staking.

Those rare moments where I am pulled into this Penny Dreadful by the potential for a dramatically ripe moment, turn into a wrenching brain cramp as I mentally hear the director speaking to the actors:

“Okay, your friend is talking about finding his soul mate after 350 lonely years of being vampire. But when she begged to be “turned”, it went horribly wrong, he has lost her forever and now he is full of self-loathing and remorse. You realize he could be talking about your situation. So Female Lead, I want you to glance up at Male Lead with a bit of longing, apprehension and sadness.”

“Good, now Male Lead, look somewhat stricken; your friend is suffering and you feel for him, because you can sympathize. You have been secretly watching over Female Lead her entire life and you find yourself falling for her. No, no, it’s not at all creepy in a -adoptive father watching his daughter grow up and then wanting to sex her up- sort of way. It’s more of a – two souls meeting at the right time after years of patience- thing.”

So the only worthwhile actor of the 3, the grieving friend, ends up looking a little over the top and hammy by comparison.

This particular actor, Jason Dohring, was the romantic interest in “Veronica Mars”. There he fared somewhat better. At least in that series, there were good storylines, believable dialogue and other good actors to play against.

Trash Culture television has shown itself capable of putting out a good product. The aforementioned Veronica Mars, or Buffy the Vampire Slayer, to name just two examples. Joss Whedon is an exceptional writer who is fearlessly dedicated to the story. If the story arc requires that a character die, then off to fictional heaven they go. Or Hell, or Purgatory. Ah, yes, purgatory: back to our story.

And you can see where “Moonlight” wants to be “that”. The somewhat earthy male Vampire detective with a heart of gold, finds the spunky, blonde, soul-mate girl of his dreams. The problem is, neither of them wants to consume the other, either by a morally sanctioned execution or through an unholy sexually charged murder. There is no tension here, no ethical angst, not one whiff of existential quandary. And matters are not helped by the fact that these two have all the sexual chemistry of, well, an adoptive father and his pretty daughter.

It is no stretch to suggest the Male Lead’s acting is wooden compared to David Boreanaz’s Angel. In fact, that observation does not even begin to approach the term “understatement”. Boreanaz, at least, has some naturally easy charm that shows through in both his expression and in his physicality. He can passably appear stricken or guilty. He can muster a visage of unrequited longing when the need appears.

In comparison Moonlight’s Male Lead is, quite frankly, a mook. He sounds like he was dragged off the docks sometime last week. And he moves like a ballet dancer in welding gear and steel-toed boots. If vampires represent the animal in us, our connection to the amoral wild, then they should at least move with the easy grace of something less cumbersome and shambling than muskoxen.

And it’s probably unfair to compare the Female Lead to a plain vanilla cookie. It just so happens that I like vanilla cookies. They have both a complexity and depth this actress can not seem to grasp. And both leads seem incapable of expressing anything beyond a range of facial expressions found in your average Botox junky.

Oh, well, look at the time. I’ve nattered on long enough. By now, the sun is well up; time to lay disturbing dreams and wasted efforts in their respective graves. I’m away into the real world of my garden, where life robbing foes are still fought with garlic and fire; only on a much, much smaller, and definitely less epic, scale. And where, subversively, the upright, straight-shooting guy who battles the elements, rights the wrongs, and fights the good fight still, somehow, manages to find the woman who completes him.



Even though she may occasionally threaten him with dismemberment for waking her from her dark slumbers.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: