MID­NIGHT SPE­CIAL

True Blood cre­ator Char­laine Har­ris is back on TV with her new se­ries Mid­night, Texas

SFX - - Red Alert -

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.”

Home­ward bound

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.

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