by Emma Smith, Reporter
At Wonder-Con 2017, convention attendees got a chance to preview the first episode of NBC’s Midnight, Texas. Based on the book trilogy by Charlaine Harris (Midnight Crossroad, Day Shift, and Night Shift), the series follows a group of supernaturals navigating life in a small Texas town.
The premiere episode follows series protagonist Manfred Bernardo (Francois Arnaud, The Borgias) as he arrives in town. Manfred is a medium, who is a bit more genuine than he lets on. He’s on the run from a mysterious creditor when his (dead) grandma suggests hunkering down in Midnight. “You’ll be safe there,” she tells him. Upon arriving, Manfred meets the friendly neighborhood pawn shop owner Bobo Winthrop (Dylan Bruce, Orphan Black) who rents him a little house. Manfred quickly realizes that something is a little weird about most of the towns residents. There’s his aggressively unfriendly neighbor Olivia (Arielle Kebbel, The Vampire Diaries), the occultist cat lady Fiji (Parisa Fitz-Henley, Jessica Jones), the grim reverend (Yul Vazquez, Bloodline), the mysterious night owl (Peter Mensah, Spartacus: War of the Damned) and the too perfect tattooist Joe (Jason Lewis, Sex and the City). Despite his misgivings, Manfred is tempted to stay by the lovely Creek (Sarah Ramos, Parenthood), daughter of the local shop owner. Still by the end of the episode, Manfred is being haunted by a murder victim looking for assistance, or maybe vengeance, and it seems things will only get more crazier as time goes on.
Arnaud does his best to bring charisma to a character a bit on the unlikeable side (con men can be a hard sell). His romantic interest Creek doesn’t seem quite fully formed yet – her most daring moment is cracking open a beer after sneaking away from her dad. Still the town outcasts forming the core group have some interesting moments. Fitz-Henley is irresistibly likable, and Kebbel’s brittle assassin begs for more development. Hopefully the show will make good use of their quality supporting characters. The special effects are uneven, with the show doing far better with its practical effects than it’s CGI. There is an impressive scene in which Manfred speaks with a drowning victim during which one can almost feel how the victim’s skin would squish if one touched her. However, there is also a scene during which a character reveals wings, and the obvious CGI is awkward enough to be distracting. This may be a budgetary issue, but hopefully future episodes will not need to rely heavily on CGI effects.
Comparisons to another Charlaine Harris favorite, True Blood, are inevitable. The same types of supernatural characters and plot lines make an appearance, but Midnight, Texas is more focused on a “family of outsiders” dynamic that a “blood and sex” one. Whether its audience will find that a feature or a bug remains to be seen.
The first episode of Midnight, Texas shows promise, but it’s not enough to tell how strong the series will be. The summer season entry, premiering July 24, has strong source material and an interesting cast, but that doesn’t quite cohere into “must see” television in their first episode. Still, if you are a fan of supernatural shows full of pretty people, its worth checking out when it hits NBC Monday nights at 10/9c in July.
ComicsOnline gives “Midnight, Texas” – Series Premiere – 3.5 out of 5 supernatural endeavors.
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