Midnight Texas NBC Series Premiere Fiji Manfred

Midnight, Texas Review: NBC's Silly Creature Feature Is Just Scary Bad

It’s never a great sign when a network show debuts in the dead of summer, more than a year after it was first announced. But those red flags make sense when you actually watch Midnight, Texas (premiering Monday, July 24 at 10/9c on NBC) — an overstuffed, often ridiculous supernatural drama that somehow manages to make a town filled with magical creatures seem crushingly dull.

I can’t pinpoint the exact moment the show lost me: Maybe it was the talking cat. Or the utterly unconvincing fight between a vampire and a were-tiger. Or the dumb hick cop who, when a witch levitates and crushes the car he’s sitting in, insists it’s just an earthquake. I just know that I was laughing more often at Midnight‘s unintentional missteps than the actual jokes in the script — again, not a great sign.

Midnight Texas NBC Series Premiere Lemuel OliviaThe action centers on ghost-spotting psychic Manfred (The Borgias‘ Francois Armaud), who takes his dead grandma’s advice and moves to the sleepy town of Midnight, Texas — which turns out to be a haven for supernatural beings of all stripes. There, he meets vampire Lemuel (Peter Mensah), witch Fiji (Parisa Fitz-Henley), angel Joe (Jason Lewis) and gun-toting assassin Olivia (Arielle Kebbel). Why include a presumably human assassin in a town full of supernatural creatures? That’s just one of the many glaring questions this show is hoping you won’t bother to ask. (Manfred also strikes up a romance with bartender Creek, played by Parenthood‘s Sarah Ramos, who seems normal enough, but probably turns out to be a bat or something.)

If this sounds like a lot of crazy for one show, well, it is. You could easily cut out half of the main cast and you’d still have far too much going on. Vampires and were-tigers and ghosts (oh my!)… it’s gilding the supernatural lily, and then gilding it again a few more times to be safe. And even with all that creature-feature overkill, the end result still feels bland. Instead of delving into these characters and giving us even a shred of a reason to care about them, Midnight just throws more creatures at the wall, hoping they’ll stick.

Over-the-top crazy can be fun, to be sure, but Midnight never commits to that, or any consistent tone. It’s too self-serious to be genuinely funny, and too goofy to be taken seriously. It’s kind of like AMC’s Preacher, but without the gonzo, kick-ass abandon. It has a lot in common with HBO’s vampire saga True Blood — including book author Charlaine Harris — but it’s not nearly as clever or sexy, and feels neutered by comparison, since it airs on network TV. Basically, it just reminds you of other, better shows you’d rather be watching.

The pilot tries to distract us from all that by piling on the CGI effects, with Manfred encountering lots of ghosts, but the paranormal effects aren’t scary, or particularly believable. And in Episode 2, I noticed conspicuously less CGI — including the aforementioned, uninspiring vampire/were-tiger tussle — probably because NBC decided to cut their losses and scale things back. All we’re left with, then, is a limp procedural subplot about a local murder, flat performances and silly dialogue about “mystical, powerful energy” delivered with a straight face.

With no credible storylines to latch onto, I found my mind wandering to the unspoken real-world logistics: Is the rest of Texas really unaware there’s a town full of otherworldly creatures nearby? We see Angel Joe sprouting his majestic wings in broad daylight… no one has caught this on video yet with their iPhone? Midnight asks us to suspend our disbelief in a big, big way, but then doesn’t reward us for that with any kind of substantial storytelling payoff.

Armaud does have a fair amount of roguish charm as Manfred, and I actually enjoyed his wisecracking ghost grandma, smoking a pipe and dispensing wisdom from beyond the grave. Maybe a procedural with those two riding around in their camper and solving crimes could’ve found its own quirky groove, but here, they just get lost in the orgy of supernatural excess that surrounds them. It’s all way too much… and somehow not nearly enough.

THE TVLINE BOTTOM LINE: NBC’s ridiculous, half-baked Midnight, Texas fits the description of “forgettable summer burn-off” to a T.

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55 Comments
  1. spdavid says:

    Looks like Saturday nights are going to be filling up even more with burn off shows huh?

  2. a_lex89 says:

    Didn’t Grimm also get horrible reviews for its pilot? And look how it turned out for it.

    • Billy Bob Johnson says:

      Yes. The first season was given a 59% green splat by tv critics and a 79% audience rating on Rotten Tomatoes. The second and third seasons were 100% by critics and 95+% by the audience. So, you just never know. Luckily people ignored the tv critics for Grimm.

      • Gospino says:

        59% is not horrible, it’s so-so.

      • Gern Blanston says:

        You’re not really representing the numbers from RT well. It was reviewed by 29 critics in season 1. Season 2 it was down to six. And out of the three that were repeat viewers only one changed their opinion to positive. So, it’s not that all reviewers thought that the show got better. You just had people that already liked the show repeating that view. I personally can’t offer an opinion as I couldn’t make it past four or five episodes before I stopped watching the show.

  3. Nimm says:

    I can’t believe Supernatural got this far because it is also funny, so maybe I will give it a shot

    • Gilded Lady says:

      Supernatural is deliberately funny. This is unintentionally funny. Big difference!

      Given how badly it was bumped (midseason to midsummer) I didn’t expect anything else.

      • Its not even unintentionally funny. Unintentionally funny is like watching someone slip and fall on a banana peel and ending face first in mud. This sounds more like a bad comedians attempt at realism.

  4. Scott says:

    Why is this axe hold the only person to comment on new shows?

  5. Syl says:

    NBC seems to be in self destruct mode.

  6. Iris says:

    Your cat doesn’t talk??

  7. Ray (the other one) says:

    I wonder how many episodes Nemetz actually watched. Sometimes shows take a few episodes to really hit their stride.

    • rinaex says:

      Shows don’t have a “few” episodes to do that anymore. Audiences have too many options to suffer through bad TV just because the showrunners couldn’t get it together from the beginning.

  8. Vee Bee says:

    Dave, no offense, but this would not be the first time you trashed something I and a lot of others enjoyed. I’ll reserve judgment.

    • Vee Bee says:

      Sorry – should have written “I and a lot of others ended up enjoying.” Haven’t seen it. I did read the books, and found them far superior to Harris’ Stackhouse series (and I did like True Blood, mostly, except not the ending … and really not after the Maenad stuff which was season 2 … so, no, just the beginning, really, I guess, but I digress).

  9. AngelWasHere says:

    I’m watching, because I almost end up liking what you hate and vise versa.

    • AngelWasHere says:

      Almost always I mean. lol Still mad about Damien. It was just getting good.

      • Jooshua says:

        I loved Damien! I miss it so much. Season 2 would’ve been amazing.

        • AngelWasHere says:

          IKR! So glad to hear that I’m not only one who was a fan of that show. Tvline pretty much deemed it horrible tho, which I never understood. Pissed me off really. Definitely giving Midnight Texas a chance based on that.

  10. Anne says:

    I happen to love truly awful genre programming so I’ll be giving it a shot. I would have been very surprised to hear this show was good.

  11. mary says:

    Well, being that I usually disagree with your “assessments” of tv series, I definitely will watch this now. And judging by most of the comments I’ve read on here, I’m not the only one.

    • Katherine215 says:

      Ditto. Dave trashed Emerald City and I loved that one. He doesn’t appear to be a fan of genre shows.

  12. Gospino The says:

    It sounds as if the characters, including the “supposedly human” assassin, are pretty much the same “types” (human, psychic, etc.) as they are in the mediocre book trilogy. It didn’t make all that much sense in the books either. Wish they had changed more stuff to be less ridiculous/more logical. As for commenters who are yelping that they don’t trust this reviewer’s opinion, duh, it obviously is just how one person feels. It only makes sense to watch and see what you think instead of blindly following ANY reviewer’s recs or blastings.

  13. Amanda Krueger says:

    Why don’t you read the books. Smh. I can’t wait to see how they portray this on tv. I read and own the trilagy. I’m also a fan of supernatural. Didn’t your mom ever teach u if you have nothing nice too say don’t say anything at all.

    • Jbj says:

      Despite all the crazy in True Blood, they did manage to pace their new supe reveals to about two a season.

    • rinaex says:

      Why should he have to? If that’s the only way to enjoy this, then that means that it isn’t very good if it can’t sell what it is supposed to be on its own.

    • Anne says:

      Well he’s a tv reviewer. It’s literally his job to say something, even if he hates it.

  14. Amanda Krueger says:

    Why don’t you read the books. Smh didn’t your mom tell you if you have nothing nice to say don’t say anything at all. Personally I can’t wait to see how they do this.

  15. liame says:

    I’m with you on this one Dave.

  16. Jenny Rarden says:

    I enjoyed it. LMAO Sure, it’s not the best show out there for many of the reasons you listed, but if you really just suspend disbelief, it’ll be a fun time waster. :)

  17. Shoe says:

    Spoiler Alert – Stop reading now if you don’t want to be spoiled. Dave, Olivia is living with a bunch of supernatural folk because she’s hiding from her very wealthy family. She also has a thing for Lemuel. What’s a better place for a real life killer to hide other than among a whole bunch of people who would be suspected as murderers before her?

  18. CSM says:

    NBC= D / HBO= A

  19. Erica says:

    Wow, what a review. LOL, I’m almost positive I’m going to love it.

  20. SarahJ says:

    Awwww. It makes me sad, because the books aren’t silly and Harris tells a really good story. They changed too much to make it work.

  21. Lawrence Gibson says:

    I don’t have any issue with you disliking the show but most of what you’re beefing about is directly out of the book series. The various and numerous characters are the reason fans of the books will tune in. Talking cat included.

  22. Chanell Lauxman says:

    From what I’ve read that sounds just like the book. I am super excited to see it.

  23. Ryan says:

    im sure I will love it, sometimes this genre isn’t for everyone.

  24. P J says:

    Sounds like Dave hasn’t read the books. All these characters and situations are revealed slowly. So it seems more mysterious than silly. I hope I will enjoy the show more than he did. My advice: read her 3 Grave secrets books; the last one introduces Mannfred. Then read the 3 Midnight TX books.

  25. Mrss Lyman says:

    Sorry but the book was no better!

    • Lisa Haley says:

      If you didn’t read the Shakespeare series, True Blood series, and the Harper Connelly series that Harris wrote then the Midnight books are a little hard to get into. Many of the characters in Midnight tie into these other books.

  26. Lisa Haley says:

    If NBC had followed the books instead of just making a mess of this series, there might have been hope. What little I have seen I’ll just read the books again instead.

  27. Lisa Haley says:

    This was not the best series to make into a series because a couple of characters are from Harris’s other book series. If you didn’t read the other books you are missing out. If NBC wants to make a series, then maybe they should get someone that actually has reading comprehension and will read at least the first book in the series.

  28. Mike Barnes says:

    I watched it once (14AUG2017). Goofy. Just another reminder why you really don’t need to look at TV.