9-10 p.m. Friday, Sept. 28

You can describe this series in three words: vampire private detective. As such, it adds a few twists to an old genre. With a vampire on the case, bad guys are easier to overpower. On the other hand, women are more difficult to romance without undesirable consequences. And, without a doubt, cases that can be solved at night take priority.

"Moonlight," with its updated vampire mythology, charismatic hero and vague resemblance to the Linda Hamilton-Ron Perlman starrer "Beauty and the Beast," has the potential to be a Friday night cult favorite. Whether it can succeed opposite two other new series (ABC's "Women's Murder Club and Fox's "Nashville") and NBC's highly praised "Friday Night Lights" is one of the fall season's bigger unknowns.

Aussie actor Alex O'Loughlin stars as Mick St. John, a member of Los Angeles' relatively small vampire community. He was inducted into the tribe by his bride, Coraline (Shannyn Sossamon), who didn't want to see him get older while she stayed the same. That was in the 1950s, and Mick has looked 30 years old ever since.

Once they become vampires, most feel only disdain for humans. Mick, on the other hand, decided to use his strength and athletic prowess to help them. His first act was to rescue a little girl kidnapped by nutty Coraline. That little girl grew up to become Internet investigative reporter Beth Turner (Britain's Sophia Myles). In the premiere, he saves her life (again) and then they touch each other's hearts, but in a good way.

Writers Ron Koslow (an executive producer) and Trevor Munson (a co-exec producer) don't waste any time explaining the ground rules of modern vampires. In the opening scene, Mick dreams of being interviewed about his bloodthirsty life.

In barely a minute or two, Mick lets us know he sleeps in a freezer, gets his blood from a medical supply house and isn't bothered at all by garlic, holy water, crucifixes or wooden stakes. However, decapitation and flame-throwers are definitely to be avoided. And, chivalrous vamp that he is, he would never harm a woman or a child. His best friend, Josef Konstantin (Jason Dohring) works as a hedge-fund trader, is extremely wealthy and doesn't get why Mick is so interested in helping humans.

Sold to CBS as a 26-minute presentation and then completely recast (except for O'Loughlin) before it went to series, "Moonlight" gives short shrift to crime solving. In the two episodes provided for review, criminals are barely more than one-dimensional comic book villains. Instead, the focus is on the dangerous and forbidden relationship between Mick and Beth and his efforts to keep his past a secret. Whether there's enough material there to knit together a series remains to be seen.

Exec producer Rod Holcomb's fast-paced pilot had plenty of action and the lighting and set designs are particularly effective.

Silver Pictures Television in association with Warner Bros. Television
Executive producers: Ron Koslow, Rod Holcomb, Joel Silver, Gerard Bocaccio
Co-executive producers: Gabrielle Stanton, Harry Werksman, Trevor Munson
Consulting producer: Josh Pate
Producer: Paul Kurta
Co-producers: Jill Blotevogel, Tod Feuerman, Stacey Fields
Director: Rod Holcomb
Teleplay: Ron Koslow, Trevor Munson
Director of photography: Marvin V. Rush
Production designer: Alfred Sole
Editor: Tod Feuerman
Music: John Frizzell
Set designer: Chris Marsteller
Casting: Barbara Fiorentino, Rebecca Mangieri, Wendy Weidman, Jessie Disla
Mick St. John: Alex O'Loughlin
Beth Turner: Sophia Myles
Josef Konstantin: Jason Dohring
Coraline: Shannyn Sossamon
Lt. Carl Davis: Brian White
Guillermo: Jacob Vargas
Steve Blafour: Kevin Weisman
Maureen "Mo" Williams: Tami Roman
Christian Ellis: Rudolf Martin