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CBS Goes to the Dark Side of the "Moonlight" Promos
May 5, 2008  | By David Bianculli
CBS-Moonlight-promo-1.jpgViewers tuned to CBS last Friday night may have caught something that made their jaws drop. I know my jaw did...

It was the CBS on-air promo for next week's Moonlight, which warned that there were only two first-run episodes left in the season -- and basically threatened viewers with the show's impending absence.


"You'll miss them when they're gone," CBS warned of these last remaining romantic vampire dramas. "So don't miss them when they're on."

What colossal nerve.

First, I won't miss Moonlight, thanks. It's not that good a show. But what this ad is doing is saying, basically, that these shows presented on broadcast TV are precious jewels. If we don't watch them, it's our fault.

Sorry, but in a strike-crippled season, especially, that's not the way it works. Moonlight won its time slot last week, but overall prime-time broadcast viewership is down since the writers' strike began in November. Millions of people, literally millions, went elsewhere for their entertainment. In a few weeks, when the May sweeps end and summer programming begins, they'll repeat, and probably increase, that driven-by-boredom migration.

The question now becomes, or ought to: Can the broadcast networks field a compelling enough lineup in the fall, and promote it properly enough, to woo those lost viewers back to the fold? Here's a hint, networks. To do so, make better programs than Moonlight -- and promote them better than by scoldng viewers that they have a duty to watch.

If watching TV is a duty, not a pleasure, the networks are the ones at fault.

"You'll miss them when they're gone" is a harsh, threatening line that can be repeated right back to the networks -- referring to their viewers.




Hopefully Impervious said:

Can Billy Mays hawking loser series be far away? Isn't he a master of creating a sense of need for the unneeded?
"And if you call within the next hour, we'll double your order of 'According to Jim' and throw in a free 'Bachelor' at no cost to you!"

Comment posted on May 5, 2008 11:12 AM

Gregg B said:

I also think that the ad execs at CBS are living in a different era. Are they advertising in 2008 or 1965? If you miss one of their shows there are multiple ways of getting it. DVR or Tivo. Watch it on their website. Buy the DVD. They don't have to threaten, if we want to see it, we will. But the networks have to realize it is no longer on their terms.

Comment posted on May 5, 2008 11:30 AM

Andromeda said:

Being a loyal Moonlight fan i think your a little ridiculous. This show has a CULT following now and if they don't get a second season heads will definitely roll.
If you don't like the show that's YOU but there are alot of people including myself who love it and will be very upset if the show isn't renewed.
This is the only show that i watch since i can't stand the reality tv crap or anything else for that matter.
It's nice to see another vampire show. And no it isn't "BUFFY" or "ANGEL" Wake the hell up people! THAT WAS THEN AND THIS IS NOW. Give this show a chance for (expletive deleted's) sake. (I did, and wasn't won over by it -- but it's winning its time slot, so it probably will be renewed. So relax. This website is not supposed to be an angry place. It's okay to disagree. -- David B.)

Comment posted on May 6, 2008 5:51 PM

Tammy said:

I for one will miss Moonlight while it's gone, Moonlight is a fantastic show that all ages Love, Moonlight offer's everything, Drama, Action, Romance, Humor. If you want a change in everything else that Television has to offer then Moonlight is your show, It's very entertaining TV,and a welcome escape from reality after a long work week. I look forward to coming home having a nice relaxing bath curling up on my couch and escaping for one glorious hour. (Thanks for being passionate without being vitriolic. I appreciate it. -- David B.)

Comment posted on May 6, 2008 7:05 PM

wendy said:

Well I am a big moonlight fan and I did not get the feeling that they were telling me I had to watch it or else. I love the show and I think that we will miss not having new episodes all summer but I think it will be back come fall. I wish CBS would have done more to promote it but there are millions of very devoted fans and I think CBS gets that. (I think I get it, too, now. Thanks for writing. -- David B.)

Comment posted on May 6, 2008 9:11 PM

Des said:

Oh, I was completely shocked by CBS's advertising tactics in that commercial. Especially when Moonlight fans are on absolute tenterhooks right now about Season two renewal (which I know WILL happen) but still. It's cranky nasty mindgames, such that it could actually turn off the less dedicated viewer. At least CBS has put reruns on the schedule for this summer. Thanks for writing about that promo. It needed to be pointed out.

Comment posted on May 7, 2008 9:19 AM

Rayne said:

hey David, thanks for writing about this! For all of us that watch the show religiously, this promo was like a slap in the face because we have been working very hard to "turn" people on to the show. We are all painfully aware that Moonlight is still "on the bubble" and that promo sent panic across the fansites the moment it was aired.
CBS has a history of playing with the minds of Moonlight fans (I mean that in a good way) but this last promo was disheartening to us and I don't think CBS thought it would come off the way it did to the fans.
Personally, I think that CBS is going to renew Moonlight, but maybe that's just my wishful thinking. The show has been rising above many obstacles and I would ask that anyone who maybe didn't get into it this season, try again next season :)
For those of you that do like the show and want to discuss it, there are several fan boards around such as www.moonlightline.com and www.moonlightfans.com...you are always welcome.

Comment posted on May 7, 2008 9:20 AM

Toby O said:

That campaign reminds me of that classic old National Lampoon cover: "Buy This Magazine Or We'll Shoot This Dog"!

Comment posted on May 7, 2008 9:31 AM

Dreamer said:

I love Moonlight, it's so much better than 'some' people give it credit for. I actually do feel sorry for the people who haven't found the beauty of it, you really don't know what you're missing.
Also,about CBS cancelling this show?, not a chance in hell. They're just playing games with the fans because they know we care so much. ;)
I have no worries about renewal. :) (I suspect you're correct -- but I'll go to the upfronts in New York next week, and report from there. Stay tuned. -- David B.)

Comment posted on May 7, 2008 9:35 AM

Deborah said:

Personally I find it absurd you are not going to miss Moonlight. It has a varied age fan base and WE WILL miss it when it is gone. However it did not put panic in my mind. I had no problem at all with the commercial stating the obvious. We will miss new episodes, but faithfully watch the old ones time and again! I did however have issues with you slamming MY favorite show!

Comment posted on May 7, 2008 11:04 AM

Suzanne said:

Thanks for the article about the promo, David. I viewed it a little bit differently than many other Moonlight fans...In a promo for episode 13, Mick looks at the camera and says "Did you miss me?" I thought this promo was a follow up to that one, and was intended to be cute rather than threatening and references the summer hiatus rather than cancellation. However, I agree that CBS probably didn't think this one all the way through and could have done something different that would have been both more effective and less polarizing. Thanks for the coverage!

Comment posted on May 7, 2008 11:21 AM

Dreamer said:

I'd be interested in knowing which episodes you've watched David. Just for curiosity's sake. I had to be forced to carry on watching it after the first episode, and it wasn't until the third that the addiction kicked in.
I understand that people have different tastes, and of course you're allowed to not like it ;) But I'm just curious. :) (Good question. I've missed the last two, so, given the passion of the show's fans, I'll definitely try, try again. But the lack of internal logic, in the ones I saw, turned me off. It wasn't the acting, and I loved the visual approach of the pilot. -- David B.)

Comment posted on May 7, 2008 12:22 PM

ladypandorabites said:

I'm a big moonlight fan from the UK, I thing it is fantastic. Unlike buffy and angel, which don't get me wrong I enjoyed, but could be a little bit childish I suppose is the word, it's a lot more adult and realistic in the world we live in to today, if vampires did exist (which of course they don't) this is how I would imagine them living. Over here, we are three episodes behind america with the mortal cure showing last night and the cbs trailer made me excited with clips of what is going to happen. I don't feel any negative vibes from the trailer video which I watched online. And in regards to the quotes in it, it's just saying to make sure that episodes 15/16 aren't missed as its future is currently uncertain. I personally feel that some people are making too much out of nothing.

Comment posted on May 7, 2008 12:59 PM

Julianna said:

I think what CBS was going for was something catchy, witty even and they fell miserably short. In a moment when they should have been wooing viewers, they fell prey to their own cleverness. So instead of invoking an appreciative response, they simply struck terror into the hearts of the faithful viewership. Bad maneuver CBS.....terribly bad. Shame on you!

Comment posted on May 7, 2008 4:47 PM

lynnrxgal said:

I, too, am a devoted Moonlight fan. This show is like no other on network television - the romance, the incredible cast chemistry, the "snarky" one-liners, the villian you "love to hate", the drama... a totally SMART package! As for the CBS promo, I hope that they are only teasing the fans! I guess May 14 (the upfronts) will tell the tale for us all as to whether or not Moonlight will return and our "missing them" will be just for a summer hiatus. Honestly, I don't know if I will be able to return to network television if my ML is cancelled! Maybe Dexter on Showtime, but primetime???? (I'll report from the upfronts. Good luck. -- David B.)

Comment posted on May 7, 2008 11:43 PM

Sandy said:

I was shocked, disturbed and hurt when first seeing the promo. After watching (several times)... and calming down, I think this falls under mind games. CBS was just raising the bar -that's all, nothing major.
Thanks for giving Moonlight (and of course us - the fans!) a chance :)

Comment posted on May 8, 2008 7:07 PM

Eileen Carlson said:

Miss Moonlight?? How could one miss something like Moonlight after seeing Forever Knight? Nick Knight, now he was a vampire one could love!

Comment posted on May 11, 2008 7:30 PM

Heather Todd said:

Sorry David about the way that other ML fans have shown their fangs. You are entitiled to your own opinion. As I was searching for site re: ML today, I came across this little snippet, and was glad to see it. I guess now we know why they said it, but at the time, I thought it was very juvenile. In your experience, was this a subtle hint to those of us that do like the show? What do you think? (I think it was CBS's way of suggesting that unless a bigger audience turns up for these last two shows, they WILL be the last two shows. And they were... - David B.)

Comment posted on May 19, 2008 5:37 PM

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