SMALL TOWN A thrilling series based on the fantasy mystery novels of the same name by Charlaine Harris, “Midnight, Texas” premieres Monday.
Extraordinary and supernatural beings stand their ground in ‘Midnight, Texas’
Hollywood has been turning novels into big- and small-screen sensations for decades, and while specialty cable channels may seem to have that market cornered at the moment (see “Game of Thrones,” “Outlander” and oh so many more), NBC is about to give them a run for their money.
The peacock network has chosen a series by author Charlaine Harris as its subject matter, which is a pretty great way to hedge its bets — Harris’s addictive Sookie Stackhouse novels (also known as the Southern Vampire Mysteries) served as the basis for HBO’s incredibly popular “True Blood,” so this new series should come with a built-in and very eager audience.
“Midnight, Texas” premieres Monday, July 24, on NBC and Global, and is based on the literary trilogy of the same name. Once again, Harris uses her novels to weave a complex web of mystery and drama, using characters with supernatural qualities as her protagonists. The series stars broody Canadian hunk Francois Arnaud (“Blindspot”) as Manfred Bernardo, a man on the run from his mysterious past. Bernardo is a psychic who, through his dead grandmother, Xylda (Joanne Camp, “Manhattan”), can communicate with other deceased individuals, sometimes with terrifying results.
Led by Xylda to a tiny Texas crossroads town called Midnight, Bernardo is told by his ghostly gram that he’ll be safe there. “Safe” probably isn’t the right word, but he certainly finds a sense of purpose and belonging. Midnight, Texas, you see, is a haven town for others like Bernardo — supernatural humans inhabit the hamlet, and they take care of each other, protecting one another from interlopers and prying eyes, not to mention mortal danger.
It’s Midnight’s most prominent vampire who declares Barnardo to be “one of us.” The striking Peter Mensah (“Sleepy Hollow”) plays Lemuel Bridger, an old and very wise vamp whose opinion holds a lot of sway in the Texas town. He works at the local pawn shop (the night shift, of course) and is one of the oldest local inhabitants. Mensah is no stranger to sci-fi and supernatural roles, or roles originating in Harris’s novels, for that matter — he had a significant character arc in “True Blood” back in 2012.
The rest of the town’s residents are just as interesting. Fiji Cavanaugh (Parisa Fitz-Henley, “Jessica Jones”) is the owner of The Inquiring Mind, a witch with a Wiccan shop who has some serious unrequited feelings for her neighbour. That neighbour is Bobo Winthrop (Dylan Bruce, “Orphan Black”), who owns the pawn shop and employs Mr. Bridger; though he seems to be a regular human, his past is mysterious, and he’s an integral and stalwart part of the eclectic town.
Arielle Kebbel (“The Vampire Diaries”) stars as Olivia Charity, a deadly and eerily effective assassin with a deep emotional and physical connection to Mr. Bridger. Sarah Ramos (“Parenthood”) plays Creek Lovell, main love interest of Bernardo and a writer whose family harbours a deep, dark secret. Yul Vázquez (“Bloodline”) is Rev. Emilio Sheehan, who watches over the town and oversees the Midnight Chapel and Pet Cemetery, while not-so-mysteriously disappearing every month during the full moon (werewolf alert!). Rounding out the cast is perhaps the most interesting character: Joe Strong (Jason Lewis, “Sex and the City”) is a literal angel. He’s been on Earth for thousands of years and lives with his husband, Chuy (Bernardo Saracino, “From Dusk Till Dawn: The Series”), while he watches over all the citizens of Midnight. His is a sacred mission: to await the arrival of “The One,” an enigmatic stranger who is destined to save Midnight and all humanity from a great evil.
Upon his arrival in Midnight, Bernardo has no idea what he’s walking into, but wins over the townspeople one by one. It isn’t long before the town is threatened by outside forces, and Bernardo finds himself fighting alongside the strange inhabitants. The series is shaping up to be an excellent mix of weekly mysteries and threats, as well as long-running story arcs — a combination that has been network television’s bread and butter for years — and while “Midnight, Texas” is by no means the raunchy, envelope-pushing, sexy extravaganza that “True Blood” was, it’s safe to say that the new series can scratch a lot of the itches fans were left with when the latter series ended back in 2014.
Peter Mensah stars in “Midnight, Texas”
Parisa Fitz-Henley as seen in “Midnight, Texas”