Purely based on its premise, NBC’s Midnight, Texas seems like a solid idea for a new supernatural series: Based on a series of novels from Charlaine Harris, the show follows psychic/seer Manfred Bernardo (François Arnaud) as he moves to Midnight, a small-town haven for all things supernatural. There are vampires, witches, werewolves, and even angels here — and when a dead body washes up, the quiet town is threatened by the possibility of exposure. Interesting, right? Viewers even get a love story when Manfred gets his flirt on with the local bartender, Creek (Sarah Ramos).
Unfortunately, unlike True Blood — the last TV show based on a series of Harris’ novels — Midnight, Texas has no fun with the genre. The show takes itself all too seriously, something you simply cannot do when your characters are named Manfred and Creek — and Bobo (Dylan Bruce) and Fiji (Parisa Fitz-Henley). Also, THERE’S A TALKING CAT. (And he is grumpy.)
Backtracking a bit: Manfred moves to Midnight because his dead grandmother recommends it to him. And I don’t mean that in a “she spoke to me in a dream” sort of way. Manfred literally sees dead people, including his late grandmother riding shotgun in his RV. Once he arrives in town, the show isn’t interested in taking the time to slowly unveil a supernatural mystery. Instead, Midnight lays it all out in its pilot, and it’s about as in-your-face as a show can get. Honestly, I’m surprised the town’s population isn’t 666.
When Aubrey, Bobo’s fiancée, washes up dead, the town has to come together to figure out what happened, especially when the pilot ends with the police (wrongfully?) arresting Bobo. Thankfully, Manfred can talk to Aubrey’s ghost — though she struggles to talk back what with all the water in her mouth (because she drowned, get it?). Then there’s Fiji, the witch, who has a thing for Bobo and will do whatever it takes to help him. How the vampire and the hitwoman play into all of it, I’m not sure, but what does it matter? They’re a team!
Rather than take you through every moment of the pilot, here are a few highlights that best represent the show so far:
— A local cop says, “Some folks say she’s a witch… or a lesbian.”
— The local gang is called the Sons of Lucifer.
— “Midnight’s not the same as most places.” –Manfred’s dead grandmother
— Olivia (Arielle Kebbel), the hitwoman, literally has a Red Room of Pain.
— There’s a growling red light coming from Manfred’s basement. So this is Goosebumps now?
In short, if you were hoping for the next True Blood, this is not it. I will say the final minutes of the pilot are the most intriguing: In arresting Bobo, the story becomes one of a small supernatural town versus the outside world. But then Manfred returns home to his over-the-top haunted house and I’m reminded what Midnight is all about. And it’s just a bit much. Did I mention the talking cat?