TV Guide's Matt Roush writes about Moonlight's cancelation.... and how it surprised even himself. Unfortunately, he feels that it is unlikely another network will pick up our show. But ~ you never know!
The Moonlight Goes Out
I’ll admit it. I’m floored. I was wrong. I was naïve. I drank the bloody Kool-Aid and started thinking like a fan (even though I always had my critical reservations). Up until last weekend, when the prognostications started turning sour, I truly thought CBS would give its cult romantic-mystery vampire drama Moonlight a long leash and a chance to work out its kinks—the narrative ones, that is; the kinkiness of the vampire romance was actually working—with a second-season renewal, or even a midseason backup order.
But no, they went and put a stake in Mick St. John, who as played by the charismatic Alex O’Loughlin had arguably the greatest potential for breakout buzz of any freshman-series character this season (and yes, I’m including the nubile fleshpots of Gossip Girl in this statement). My initial reaction, beyond despair at the thought of the unforgivingly bitter and relentlessly anguished mail that’s starting to arrive in my mailbag, was: Did CBS learn nothing from Jericho? And then I pondered: Well, maybe they did. They brought Jericho back, and despite massive media hype over that nearly unprecedented resurrection, it was a dud.
The circumstances are a bit different here, but the shows shared a few crucial roadblocks to success. Both Jericho and Moonlight were disrupted midway through their first seasons: Jericho by a misguided programming strategy that took the show off the air from November to February, stalling its momentum; Moonlight by the writers’ strike, which damaged network TV across the board. They aired in tough time periods: Jericho in the challenging lead-off Wednesday position, and in its comeback, in the Tuesday at 10 pm/ET death slot, while Moonlight struggled on Fridays as most shows do on the night. Both are what’s known as “off-brand,” experiments in serialized and genre formats for a network that finds its greatest success in traditional crime dramas and classic-style sitcoms.
It doesn’t help that CBS isn’t a producer of Moonlight (a Warner Bros production) the way it was for Jericho (from CBS/Paramount). The business side of the equation was no doubt also affected by all of the backstage turbulence on a show that bled show-runners as if an actual curse was in place. (Explains a recent Variety article: “It's understood that Eye execs were not impressed with the show's creative development, and there was much drama and turnover behind the scenes among producers and scribes and tussling between the network and studio over budgetary issues. The final straw was the show's sagging ratings perf during the past few weeks after its post-strike return.”)
Whatever the reasons—and why argue them; a show like this is always a crapshoot for a mainstream network—this goes down in my book as the most disappointing cancellation of the season. And again, for the record, I’m not even completely sold on the show, though as I recently argued in my Review column, it had plenty of potential and a star who’s an absolute keeper. (Not to mention a passionate fan base that literally gave blood to raise Moonlight awareness.)
So what are the odds that Mick will rise from the dead, in classic vamp fashion? Pretty steep, I’d think. No other broadcast network is likely to step in to save it—not even the CW, which at least has a corporate connection. (The CW being already satiated with genre programming like Smallville, Supernatural and the just-renewed Reaper.) Cable? Probably too expensive, even for Sci Fi—and fans are still smarting over that channel’s handling of The Dresden Files. But I’d be foolish to ever say never. Look what happened to Jericho, at least for a while.