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Archive for Thursday, June 3, 2010

Vampire drama ‘Moonlight’ back from the dead

June 3, 2010

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Some series are simply ahead of their time. “Freaks & Geeks” was canceled after a handful of episodes in 1999, several years before its co-creator Judd Apatow and much of the “Freaks” cast went on to dominate big-screen comedy in the early 21st century.

“Moonlight” (8 p.m., CW) may have been similarly prescient. The CW has revived this 2007 CBS vampire detective series to bookend with its popular “Twilight”-inspired “Vampire Diaries.”

Alex O’Loughlin stars as Mick St. John, who was turned into an undead entity (by his wife, no less) more than 60 years ago. He copes, in rather civilized fashion, with a steady supply of hospital blood that he consumes like a cocktail. Hey, that’s not unlike the potent potables gulped down on HBO’s “True Blood.” Didn’t I tell you this show was ahead of the curve?

Nick’s work as a private eye offers “Moonlight” (8 p.m.) the chance to mingle the gothic atmosphere of vampire lore with the doom-laden dialogue of film noir detective movies. Unlike polyester, it’s a comfortable, appealing blend.

• Detective work of very different fashion unfolds on “Burn Notice” (8 p.m., USA), now entering its fourth season. Michael (Jeffrey Donovan) shares secrets of his spy craft with the audience. But he does so in a glib, throwaway manner, shot through with a MacGyver-like eye for detail and gadgetry.

It hardly hurts that “Burn” features a winning supporting cast, with Gabrielle Anwar as Michael’s never-too-distant ex, and Bruce Campbell, playing a bottomed-out military intelligence officer as only the star of “The Evil Dead” trilogy can. And Sharon Gless plays Michael’s demanding mother, a character who could give Jack’s “30 Rock” mom (Elaine Stritch) a run for her money.

The USA network has found a sweet spot with fun, involving, but not overly complicated genre dramedies like “Burn.” Returning for its sophomore year, “Royal Pains” (9 p.m., USA) presents a similarly jocular take on the practice of medicine. Mark Feuerstein stars as Hank Lawson, an outcast Manhattan physician reduced to providing private medical services for spoiled and eccentric socialites in the posh Hamptons beach community. Look for Henry Winkler to join “Pains” this season as Hank’s father.

• A few weeks back, Dr. J. Craig Venter announced the culmination of a five-year effort to create a purely synthetic, self-replicating, living cell. The news is exciting, daunting and fraught with implications, many of them discussed on the special “Creating Synthetic Life: Your Questions Answered” (8 p.m., Science).

Tonight’s other highlights

• Basketball fans can warm up with “Jimmy Kimmel Live: Game Night” (7 p.m., ABC) and “NBA Countdown” (7:30 p.m.).

• Two sleazy victims are hardly missed by their upscale neighbors on “CSI” (8 p.m., CBS).

• NBA Finals game 1 (8 p.m., ABC).

• The talent search goes weirdly on “30 Rock” (8:30 p.m., NBC).

• A luxury car dealer is found stuffed in the trunk of a Bentley on “The Mentalist” (9 p.m., CBS).

• The title of the report “How Much is Your Dead Body Worth?” (9 p.m., CNBC) sure got my attention.

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