Monday, July 03, 2023

Moonshine, on CW

One of the only good things about the Finley-Cullen family resort is the lobster, but their animal rights activist granddaughter is about to wreck that too. Everyone is supposed to be mourning the irascible aunt who just died, but they are really too busy feuding and acting crazy in creator Sheri Elwood’s Moonshine, which premieres (sort of) this Friday on CW.

Maybe you saw
Moonshine in Canada, as a CBC original, or maybe you saw it when it briefly streamed on Freevee, but now it’s a CW property. Here it is regardless. That is also sort of Lidia Bennett’s attitude when she arrives at the Moonshine on Nova Scotia’s South Coast in the pilot, “Standby Out of Newark.” She is the prodigal daughter who left to be an architect in New York. Her son Finn is endurable, but her self-styled activist daughter Eleanor is a real pain. They do not expect to be staying long, but surprise: Bennett is about to inherit her cranky aunt’s shares in the Moonshine.

Turns out the Bennetts might be sticking around longer than they thought, especially when her mother suffers from a very mild but dramatically convenient stroke. Bennett will have to corral her psychedelic mushroom-growing brother Ryan Finley-Cullen and her resentful sister with a martyr complex, Rhian Finley-Cullen, to whip the indebted resort into shape.

Inevitably, Lidia and Rhian will clash, especially when the former starts asserting her new authority in the second episode, “Escape Goat.” Bennett decides to transform the Moonshine’s annual goat roast into a New Age Goddess festival. Of course, Eleanor will want to sabotage the goat roast, just like she freed all the lobsters intended for the memorial reception.

So, clearly the morale of
Moonshine is millennial activists ruin everything. Maybe Bennett will not say so in so many words, but any viewer could tell she would be happier without Eleanor—at least the audience certainly would be.

However, Jennifer Finnigan brings a great deal of charm to the first two episodes playing Bennett. She also has a nice bantering comedic rhythm with Emma Hunter, who plays Nora Finley-Cullen, the DJ sister, who mercifully has no day-to-day involvement in the management of the Moonshine. On the other hand, the obnoxious petulance of Anastasia Philips’ sister Rhian and the cliched stoner stock character that is Tom Stevens’ brother Ryan are already annoying in the pilot.

Still, Elwood and Josh Saltzman’s writing in the first two episodes is a little edgier than you might expect, but the relevant examples are under embargo. Comparatively,
Moonshine is much livelier than Barons, CW’s other recent non-paranormal dramatic import.

Finnigan and Hunter help a lot, but
Moonshine still needs more bite and less quirk, at least thus far. It is not as good as Northern Exposure, which feels like an influence, but you can’t stream that show either, so there you are. Frankly, Moonshine is probably a lot better than many of the recently canceled shows that Twitter nitwits are so outraged over. It is mostly pleasant, but it probably won’t last long, because the cast lacks sufficient “representation” to keep the woke bean-counters at bay. Okay thus far, not really memorable yet, Moonshine starts airing Friday (7/7) on the CW.