July 25, 2017

SHOWBUZZDAILY Series Premiere Review: “Midnight, Texas”


MIDNIGHT, TEXAS:  Monday 10PM on NBC – Change the Channel

NBC’s summer series MIDNIGHT, TEXAS is a horror, all right.  It’s based on novels by True Blood author Charlaine Harris, and the idea was plainly to do a broadcast network version of HBO’s hit.  But even if Midnight had been any good, the idea would have been 5 years too late, and this watered-down skeleton of a series, which seems to have been produced for about the amount James Spader earns for a single episode of The Blacklist, certainly wouldn’t be it.

As in True Blood, Midnight, Texas exists in a universe where all manner of supernatural beings co-exist, in this case in the titular town, which is a dustier and more deserted version of Harris’s Bon Temps.  Clairvoyant Manfred Bernardo (Francois Arnaud) is the newcomer and our protagonist, seeking refuge in Midnight from an as-yet unspecified pursuer.  He soon meets vampire Lemuel (Peter Mensah), witch Fiji (Parisa Fitz-Henley) and her talking cats, angel Joe (Jason Lewis), werewolf Emilio (Yul Vasquez), and hitwoman–and possibly more–Olivia (Arielle Kebbel), as well as seemingly normal waitress Creek (Sarah Ramos, a sad reminder of the excellence of Parenthood).  There’s also a nearby menacing motorcycle gang, and some wary law enforcement.  Midnight is built over a Buffy-type hellmouth, attracting a steady stream of evil, and upon Manfred’s arrival in town, there’s almost immediately a murder.  Manfred tries to be helpful in solving the crime, given his ability to communicate with the dead, although in this case the victim is frustratingly ambiguous in her messages.

Despite the bargain-basement budget and tired concept, the right writing and style might have kept Midnight, Texas alive.  However, Monica Owusu-Breen, a genre veteran with stints on Charmed, Lost, Fringe, Revolution and Agents of SHIELD to her credit (but a first-time series creator), hasn’t found the right tone, and the pilot script is heavy with blunt exposition and flat dialogue.  Pilot director Niels Arden Oplev had the unenviable task of churning this out with what appears to have been a miniscule amount of cash, and he wasn’t able to make up for the lack of resources with any visual style or imagination.  The acting varies from trying hard to where’s-my-paycheck.

NBC failed in the fantasy genre during the regular season with Emerald City, but that at least had some ambition and scale.  Midnight, Texas would have been negligible even on Syfy, and on the mother network it’s a reminder of how quickly broadcast TV is sinking.


About the Author

Mitch Salem
MITCH SALEM has worked on the business side of the entertainment industry for 20 years, as a senior business affairs executive and attorney for such companies as NBC, ABC, USA, Syfy, Bravo, and BermanBraun Productions, and before that, at the NY law firm of Weil, Gotshal & Manges. During all that, he has more or less constantly been going to the movies and watching TV, and writing about both since the 1980s. His film reviews also currently appear on and In addition, he is co-writer of an episode of the television series "Felicity."