Since the world didn’t end last weekend, a surprisingly fun, light-hearted show about impending doom seems fitting this week. Three Moons Over Milford aired for all of 8 episodes on ABC Family in 2006. Although the pilot has a happy, shiny tone, I suspect the show was too quirky even for the network home of Kyle XY.
We first hear, via radio broadcast (a handy plot device for opening pilot episodes), about how people around the world are increasingly engaging in risky behaviors like skydiving and running with the bulls. Elizabeth McGovern, who has a whole Lauren Graham thing going on, trots out of her ridiculously cool, modern house and jogs around the town to give the viewer a once-over of Milford, VT, founded in 1738.
Milford looks for all the world like Stars Hollow, CT but despite its New England charm we get hints that things are amiss. An elderly man joyously rides a scooter, a woman waters her lawn in the nude, and a newlywed couple displays some fun-with-gender-swapping.
We get the set-up via the opening credits: A meteor struck the moon, splitting into three pieces now hovering precariously on the horizon, threatening to destroy the Earth at any moment. One interesting element of the episode is that, until the climax, we’re only show the moon(s) in reflections. Images of the three jigsaw piece chunks show up in a swimming pool, in puddles and in windows.
We get to know Laura Davis (McGovern) and her family, which looks like it would be perfect in a world with an intact moon. Only now, her white collar husband Carl (Henry Czerny) parks his Porshe in front of his yurt, where he is getting in touch with… something. It’s not quite clear, as his lifestyle seems to be a generic jumble of Eastern and new age mysticism. When Laura goes to see him, the two debate which one of them is “missing mankind’s last, greatest opportunity.”
Back story on the family is parcelled out little by little, but we learn the most when Laura goes to see a small-time lawyer about her daughter’s indiscretion with a open flame (more on that in a moment). The lawyer, Mark (Rob Boltin) is destined to be the love interest from the moment we meet him and this point is underscored when we learn that he harbors hatred for the Davis family. (Enemies in the pilot=making out by season finale.) It seems the Davises came to town to launch a company with the nondescript name Syndek in an ultra-modern glass building, bringing a more worldly type of citizen to this backwoods town and driving up the price of coffee (among other things, presumably).
Mark has his own problems. His overbearing mother tells him, “Sarah Louise called for you,” with a strain in her voice warning him against this person. We finally catch a glimpse of her at the very end of the episode. Her mysterious introduction serves as the hook to urge the viewer back for episode 2.
Laura’s teen daughter, Lydia (never-seen-before-or-since-but-not-half-bad Teresa Celentano) is dabbling in witchcraft. She and her friends gather in the school gym to take part in a worldwide ceremony to reunite the moons. Their mission ends in the aforementioned fire. Lydia talks like a Gilmore Girl. (Do you see where I’m going with this? According to the blogosphere, the similarities to Gilmore Girls only got stronger as the series went on.)
The son, Alex (Sam Murphy) is celebrating his 16th birthday and looking forward to owning car. In the meantime he’s lying about his age and hooking up with a neighbor in her 20s, Claire (Samantha Quan). Claire typifies the pervasive worldview. She has vowed to grab what/who she wants in life, but once she throws herself at Alex she keeps repeating, “This isn’t me.” It’s as though everyone is trying to reinvent themselves, and is unsure how, in light of the looming Armageddon.
It’s odd, when you think about it, that someone needed to make a show about a world that could end at any moment. Because, really, the world could end at any moment—whether you believe it will be by an act of the divine, nuclear holocaust or zombie apocalypse. Only a handful of people seemed inspired to act on the warnings of May 21, but let’s face it, the guy behind it seemed like a nut. If the moon was split in three (however physically improbable; I’d love to hear Sheldon Cooper’s take) you couldn’t help but consider the reality. Maybe the premise was too much for ABC Family’s demo to process.