Vampires are en vogue again, but CBS's "Moonlight" (9 p.m. Friday, KDKA) displays none of the depth of "Buffy the Vampire Slayer" nor the romance of Lifetime's Canadian import "Blood Ties." Instead, "Moonlight" is just a weak, generic private-eye drama with a vampire story overlay; it's "Angel" with much less creativity and more familiar, conventional plots.
Created by Ron Koslow ("Birds of Prey") and Trevor Munson, "Moonlight" centers on Mick St. John (Alex O'Loughlin, "The Shield"), a private detective who was made a vampire 60 years ago. Now he helps defend others from bad vampires who don't live by the moral code -- don't eat good guys, women or children -- that Mick has adopted.
Tonight's premiere has way too much voiceover from Mick as a way to explain his motivation. There's also an interview with him that begins with an obvious bad pun and sets up the rules for this particular vampire universe: Garlic, holy water and crucifixes have no impact on these vamps, but they do try to avoid sunlight.
Mick teams up on cases with a Web reporter, Beth (Sophia Myles), with whom he shares a past incident that also involves his (former?) wife, Coraline (Shannyn Sossamon), who turned him into a vampire. Beth learns about the reality of Mick's vampiric impulses in next week's episode, giving the show a similar dynamic to the two main characters in Koslow's superior "Beauty and the Beast."
"Moonlight" sparks to life in the few scenes with Mick's vampire buddy Josef, played by Jason Dohring, best known for his role as Logan on the canceled "Veronica Mars." His Josef is pretty much Logan-as-a-vamp. ("Mars" fans get another shout-out in the premiere: Hearst College makes an appearance.)
O'Loughlin has the shaggy mane and acting chops, as evidenced by his role on "The Shield," but he's not well served by the show's unimaginative stories and relationships, retreads from better series of the past.