By Michael Slezak
September 29, 2007 at 09:37 PM EDT

Last night, I had the most amazing experience: I time-traveled back to 1993, and spent an hour watching the series premiere of a show called Moonlight. The commercial breaks seemed to indicate I was watching the show on CBS, but I’m pretty sure it was USA or Superstation TBS, and that the show was sandwiched in between episodes of Silk Stalkings and The Outer Limits. (Be sure to look for our critic’s official take in an upcoming issue of EW, that is if they possess the technology to jump backward a decade, too.)

The show followed a hella handsome vampire/private investigator named Mick St. John, played by Alex O’Loughlin, who spent much of the episode in clingy, long-sleeved, four-button tees. (Nice!) Before the action kicked in, Mick dreamed he was being interviewed for a TV news magazine, where he explained that “being a vampire sucks,” but that he’d never hunt “women, children or innocents.” For some reason, I couldn’t shake the thought of the show’s writers tacking on the scene in response to some strongly worded memo from a CBS exec demanding they “HURRY UP AND SELL THE CONCEPT BEFORE THE OPENING CREDITS!”

Anyway, the action focused on Mick trying to solve the mystery of a murdered co-ed who’d got caught up with an “ancient blood cult” that was into wearing bat-shaped pendants and chugging sweet plasma. Naturally, he couldn’t crack the case without the help of a comely Web TV reporter Beth (emotional sieve Sophia Myles). But wait! Back in the day, when the reporter was just a toddler, she’d been kidnapped by Mick’s blood-sucking (literally) ex-wife, Coraline (Shannyn Sossamon), and Mick had to rescue the kid in a violent domestic squabble. Given their history — Mick actually noted in voice-over that, “The last time I held [Beth] in my arms, she was only a child” — I wonder if I’m alone in thinking it’s creepy that Mick and Beth are now being paired up as potential lovers. Yeesh!

Anyhow, Moonlight is undoubtedly abysmal, from its straight-from-a-can dialogue (“Nobody walks in L.A.”) to its soft-core production values (several scenes of Mick driving his convertible were laughably low-rent) to the way it sucked the life-force out of usually zesty supporting players like Alias‘ Kevin Weisman and Veronica Mars‘ Jason Dohring. And yet, at the same time, there’s something oddly refreshing in the way Moonlight doesn’t actually aspire to be high-quality television. It doesn’t give you much in the way of compelling storylines or first-rate acting, but it doesn’t ask much of you as a viewer, either. I suspect I could easily skip the next six episodes, then tune in again some freezing-dull night in November, without missing a beat. In other words, I don’t want to go back and live in the early ’90s, but I wouldn’t mind visiting it a few times a year. Especially if that hot vampire dude is part of the equation.