True Blood creator Charlaine Harris is back on TV with her new series Midnight, Texas
It’s been three years since True Blood finished its seven-season run – more than enough to prove that supernatural fiction author Charlaine Harris’s characters are well-suited to TV adaptation. Now the legions of readers who adore Harris’s blend of romance, mystery and the fantastical need only look to July when her Midnight, Texas trilogy debuts as a ten-episode series.
From executive producers and showrunners Monica
Breen (Fringe) and David Janollari (Six Feet Under), Midnight, Texas follows psychic Manfred Bernardo (François Arnaud) as he escapes (prompted by his dead grandmother’s ghost) to a remote little town inhabited by those who want to stay off the grid. As it turns out, Manfred can talk to, and absorb, the dead, and it’s taking its toll on the poor guy. But in Midnight, he finds a community of other supernaturals, from witches and werewolves to vampires and angels, who welcome him to their dusty patch of grass.
After writing for seven major genre shows over the last 14 years, Owusu-Breen says it was Harris’s rich characters that pulled her into Midnight’s orbit. “I loved every single character when I read the books,” she tells Red Alert. “I loved their back-stories. I loved what brought them to Midnight. I loved that they are struggling to find a home. Now, they found their tribe and are willing to do anything to protect it. I also love Westerns, and for me, there’s a component of the show that is a little bit of a Western. It’s like my little homestead and the outsiders are coming in to screw with it. It’s fun to take an American narrative, like the Western, and add vampires and witches.”
Owusu-Breen says Manfred grounds all his actions with his very relatable need to find a home. “That’s a really interesting narrative for me,” she says. “A man looking for a home with his dead grandma, who is his only friend and confidante. There’s something so kind and sweet about that. It’s kind of beautiful.”
But the show won’t be all hearts and flowers, as something dark follows Manfred to his new home. “There’s a reason supernaturals are drawn to this town,” Owusu-Breen explains. “It’s because it sits on a veil, which will manifest in all sorts of awful ways throughout the season, many of which are more particular to some of our characters versus others.”
Asked how the series will balance the horror, romance and character exploration, executive producer David Janollari says, “We came up with a mantra of three engines that should run through each episode. One is, ‘What is Manfred’s story?’ as he is the centrepiece. Every episode furthers understanding of him. The second thing is, ‘What is the threat of the week,’ whether it’s something coming from the outside, or something within our town. In the pilot, you have this thing under the floor, which becomes one of our bigger season arc threads, as well as who killed Bobo Winthrop’s (Dylan Bruce) former girlfriend, Aubrey (Shannon Lorance), and how do we solve that mystery? Then the third thing is, ‘What’s the Midnighter story of the week?’ Each episode we try to focus on at least one of the Midnighters and give some insight into their backstory, their secrets or their loves. That three-prong formula pays off in every single episode.”
While True Blood explored similar themes with an explicit approach, Owusu-Breen and Janollari want Midnight, Texas to be its own thing. “The central metaphor is love,” says Owusu-Breen. “At its core, it’s about people who love each other and finding love. It’s got a little more of a romantic bent, while True Blood’s central metaphor is desire and sex.”
“We don’t push the envelope in terms of sex and violence,” adds Janollari, “but we certainly have a lot of fights and a lot of gore. What’s really emerged is that you fall in love with these characters falling in love. Yes, they have sex. Yes, they go through break-ups. Yes, they have emotional highs and lows. I think that’s the commonality between the Midnight family and the True Blood family. The real, core fans of True Blood watched it because it was a soap opera and that’s the similar DNA we share.”
And as for fans of the books wondering how faithful the series will be, Owusu-Breen says, “We’re sort of mashing a bunch of the books together, so it rolls out very differently. Season one is mostly from the first book and the third book, so we’ll come to things differently. They pay off a little differently. But, we’re still true to the tent poles and the story she set up.”
Midnight, Texas debuts on NBC in the US on 24 July and will air on Syfy in the UK from 27 July.
It’s such a pain trying to get ectoplasm off the walls after parties like this.