Midnight, Texas has been a long time coming for NBC. The pilot was shot over a year ago, but Season 1 only made it to air on Monday night. For fans of Charlaine Harris' books on which the show is based on, it was a long wait to see it visualized on the small screen. For the rest of us, well, we had no idea what to expect. But I'm guessing we didn't expect that!
Angels, vampires, psychics, witches, assassins, biker gangs, ghost grandmas and a talking cat!? Yes please! And on top of all that a murder mystery and the promise of some big bads down the line.
To sort through all the madness, TV Guide talked to showrunner and creator Monica Owusu-Breen about all things Bobo, Olivia and Manfred. And don't worry, she knows that Midnight, Texas is an insane ride, too.
[Spoilers for the premiere episode of Midnight, Texas follow.]
Bobo took the fall for Aubrey's murder! That's not right, what's next for him?
Monica Owusu-Breen: That storyline gets resolved in the second episode. It appears to be resolved in the second episode, I should say. We wrote a pilot and it was with the intention with the murder mystery guiding the entire series. When the pilot was shot, the network came to me and said, "Murder mysteries are done in a lot of shows. Can this be a supernatural show, with supernatural villains coming in and out of this world?" [NBC wanted] to really hit that.
So like every show, we're sort of trying to figure out what we really are. So I went off and thought about it, and thought if I couldn't do a supernatural show in a town like Midnight, I should hand in my Writers Guild card. So what begins as a murder mystery, you'll see in Episode 2 opens up a bigger mystery and a bigger obstacle for the Midnighters and for Manfred (Francois Arnaud) specifically.
So the murder mystery won't be the main thread of the season?
Owusu-Breen: No, that's Bobo's (Dylan Bruce) story. Every character has their own story, and the murder mystery and the fallout from that is Bobo's story more than it is the story of the town.
Manfred is our window into this world, but soon he'll have to be more proactive in the show. What drives him later throughout the series?
Owusu-Breen: I think what's interesting about Manfred is that he's a guy who's used to running from things. I mean he grew up in gypsy caravan and he's traveled the world, and whenever there were problems he and his grandma would leave. So the idea of committing to home and committing to a community is one sort of obstacle for our character Manfred who is not used to being alone. But I don't think humans were meant to be alone, I don't think we function well alone. For Manfred too, it's about finding that community and place, where he is willing to take charge, and to lead, and to fight and to risk his own safety for this group of people who he will grow to feel a part of.
You did a great job of cramming in a lot of information about these characters — what kind of supernatural being they are, what kind of person they are — in the first episode, when you could have kept some of that secret for reveals later.
Owusu-Breen: The books are a very slow build, and we started off with a very slow story. It's hard when you're not sure who everyone is, and one of the things that occurred to me is just because you know someone is a witch, just because you know someone is an angel, doesn't mean you know anything about them, how they got there, what their loves are, what their obstacles are, how they were empowered, what their powers are. There were so many other questions that just to lay it out who these people are doesn't even tell you who they really are inside. So it felt to us that it was worth front-loading the story to give the audience a question mark, and then every episode after that we reveal a backstory or truth or history about one of the Midnighters.
While we do know a lot about most of these characters, there are two who stand out as very intriguing to me. The Rev and Olivia, they're pretty cool, what can you tell us about them?
Owusu-Breen: When you talk to Charlaine, she says the Rev (Yul Vazquez) is the least knowable of all the characters. If you notice in his church, his art is based on Biblical art of animals, and he values animal life as much as human life. And what we reveal in the second episode is why he has that duality and concern. Olivia (Arielle Kebbel) to me is one of my favorite characters, one of the things I love is that there is a love story where there is this woman who is so filled with rage and violence and the she found this lover who can release that pain from her. So it allows her to be in this small town, living this life and having friends, because he's like lover Prozac.
We'll learn why Olivia is the person she is, why she holds this rage, why she kills for a living, what drives this beautiful but really pissed off woman. One of the things I love that Charlaine did is Olivia has a childhood that is honestly one of the most painful and disturbing childhoods I've ever read. The kind of story that you'd think we're absolutely never going to do that on network television. But we're seeing her on the other side of this childhood where she found someone who helped her cope. And who helps her be her human self and not just be marred in that rage and anger and hurt. I love the truth of that love story in the supernatural realm, that's really special to me. There's something so beautiful about falling in love with someone who can take your pain away.
Okay, now we have to talk about my favorite character. There are so many supernatural characters, and you're introducing all these different types of beings, and then, out of nowhere, we get a talking cat!
Owusu-Breen: Mr. Snuggly!!! I will describe it — because this show is wackadoo. I love wacky, I know I love it, I hope we find an audience who is as enamored with this crazy universe as me. When I read the books, I remember Mr. Snuggly was just always around, and then midway through the books or three-quarters through the books, he starts talking. But by that point he had been around often enough and the world had gotten nutty enough it was like, of course the cat talks. it kind of made sense in that weird Charlaine-inspired supernatural universe that of course a witch would have a familiar, and of course that familiar would have a voice. It's a polarizing figure [laughs] but it makes us laugh.
I get what you're putting down, I love him. Nothing it too nutty for me, the nuttier, the better.
Owusu-Breen: What I love about Charlaine's world, is she is not hindered by anything. She has a wild imagination where she's like, "Why the f--- shouldn't the cat talk?" So there's a spirit of going for it in the books that I love. So Mr. Snuggly, if you told me two years ago I would have written for Mr. Snuggly, I would have been like, "Seriously?" But I was in, when I read the books I was like "Yes, now I understand." It's also funny, too, because he's the voice to a very insecure character. So in the way that Bobo and Manfred have someone to talk to in their loneliness, Mr. Snuggly also functions like that for Fiji.
Midnight, Texas airs Monday nights at 10/9c on NBC.