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Moonlight on CBS

9:00 p.m. ET

Rating: TV-PG LV


Many children go through a period when they love monster stories, and one of the most popular and fascinating monsters for children are vampires. For this reason vampires have been popular subjects for horror- and fantasy-based movies and TV shows for many years, and it is no surprise that one network has created another series focused around a vampire character. But unlike older vampire programs like the long-running soap opera Dark Shadows, CBS’s new prime-time program Moonlight features graphic violence and gore. This is of special concern because children are particularly likely to tune in.


The October 12th episode of Moonlight was only rated PG, with language and violence descriptors; but it featured graphic levels of bloodshed and gore certainly deserving of a TV-14 rating.


The episode’s story focused on the accidental creation of a “rogue” vampire, one who does not follow the vampiric community’s code of rules. The episode opened with a man being hit by a car. When a doctor runs over to help, the accident victim spits blood in the doctor’s face, then bares his fangs, grabs the doctor and bites him on the neck.


The doctor, Jeffrey, now a vampire himself, is then shown vandalizing a convenience store. Jeffrey’s neck has a huge bloody wound in it, and his shirt is covered in blood.  When the store clerk approaches him, Jeffrey savagely attacks him, after special effects show the vessels in the clerk’s arm pulsing with blood.


Later, the program’s private eye hero Mick and his coroner friend Guillermo – both of whom are also vampires – examine the clerk’s corpse in a morgue. Guillermo exposes the dead body of the clerk.  The clerk's neck and face are covered in huge bloody gashes, which are shown repeatedly in close-up as Mick and Guillermo comment:


Mick: “Look at how the flesh has been just ripped away. It’s like somethin’ was literally trying to eat this guy!”


Guillermo: "The vampire that did this is must have been severely pissed off."


Mick: “Or newly turned. I can barely smell any decay….Rage. The need to satisfy a hunger. [Remember] what it felt like to feed for the first time?”




Mick, realizing that the new vampire is a “rogue,” goes looking for him, in hopes of averting a murderous rampage. Visiting the convenience store, Mick notices a huge bloodstain, which the camera zooms in on.


Mick seeks information from “The Cleaner,” a vampire who runs a business which covertly disposes of the corpses of other vampire’s victims. As Mick approaches The Cleaner, two other vampires stand nearby with blood drooling down their chins. The Cleaner’s men pick up a severed hand and toss it into a garbage bag. As The Cleaner chides the two bloody vampires for their “messy eating habits,” another of her men is shown hoisting a headless corpse off the pavement. The bloody, jagged edges of the decapitated corpse’s neck are graphically shown, as The Cleaner jokes, “Accidents happen. Everyone feels bad. But at least they called for a cleanup.”


Meanwhile Jeffrey, his neck and shirt still covered in blood, runs through the

streets and approaches a man in a dark parking lot. He grabs the man by the collar and says: "It’ll be alright. I'm a doctor."   He throws the man on the ground and lunges toward him. Jeffrey bares his fangs and lunges at the man for the kill.


Mick succeeds in tracking down the vampire who “sired” Jeffrey. This vampire graphically stabs a stake into Mick's heart.  As Mick passes out, the “sire” twists the stake further into Mick’s chest, then leaves. Mick’s friend Beth finds him on the floor with the stake in his chest. Mick begs Beth to pull the stake out of his heart.  Beth does so. As Beth holds the bloody stake Mick exposes the bloody wound in his chest. Beth touches the rapidly-healing wound in disbelief.


Eventually Mick tracks down Jeffrey, who is about to assault a helpless hospital patient. Jeffrey and Mick fight each other, savagely trading punches and kicks, while snarling and baring their fangs in a feral manner.  Mick throws Jeffrey down the stairs, jumps on top of him, and plunges the stake into his chest. Jeffrey is paralyzed but not killed, and Mick takes the still-conscious fellow vampire to the hospital’s incinerator, where he graphically lights Jeffrey on fire. As the helplessly paralyzed Jeffrey burns, Mick calmly walks away.


And as though all the foregoing was not sufficiently gruesome, the episode also featured a storyline in which Mick repeatedly flashes back to his wedding night, when he was turned into a vampire by his ex-wife Coraline (whom Mick graphically set afire in the show’s first episode).  In his flashbacks, Mick awakens the morning after his wedding night to find blood all over his neck and pillow, and a gaping wound in his own neck. Mick is horrified and begs Coraline to turn him back to human, but she refuses. Instead, she shows Mick a woman she has abducted, tied up and gagged. Coraline forces the helpless woman to bend over and present her throat to Mick, who in sudden bloodlust lunges forward and bites her.


Vampire movies can give even young children a fun, harmless “scare” -- if they are done appropriately. But when a program like Moonlight features graphic blood and violence comparable to an episode of C.S.I., a line has been crossed. When such an episode is merely rated PG, suggesting that it is appropriate for anyone over the age of seven, the networks are acting irresponsibly…and adding to the proof that television ratings are unreliable. Given its inaccurate rating, the V-Chip would not have prevented young children from seeing this graphic and bloody episode.


If you agree that this program was inadequately rated, please write to the TV ratings advisory board at tvomb@usa.net and let them know that the TV ratings once again failed to adequately warn parents about inappropriate content.    


For more information about the TV ratings, please visit http://www.tvguidelines.org/contact.asp



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