Or Nah? is a feature where we watch and review the first episode of a new TV show. We’ll let you know if it’s worth checking out. As always, these reviews are the opinion of the reviewer, but we’ll try to adequately explain why you should or shouldn’t give the show a chance and provide shows for comparison.
What’s It About?
On the run from unseen but undeniably shady debt collectors, Manfred Bernardo (Arnaud) a psychic/medium/grifter, heads to Midnight, a small town in Texas. He’s there on the advice of his dead grandmother, a ghost he regularly sees and converses with in his RV, because she says he’ll be safe there. In this case, safe surely means surrounded by other outsiders and supernatural beings, because Midnight is full of them. In the pilot we meet Lem the vampire (Mensah,) Fiji the witch (Fitz-Henley) and her talking cat, an angel named Joe (Lewis,) and though his identity is left unclear, there is definitely more to the full-moon-fearing Reverend (Vazquez) than meets the eye.
Despite sitting on a thin veil between the living and the dead, Midnight is typically a quiet, peaceful place. Or so the locals say. The supernatural folks, and their human allies Olivia (Krebbel) and Bobo (Bruce,) want to keep it that way as a means of staying under the radar. When the sudden murder of Aubrey, Bobo’s fiancé, threatens to bring too much attention to the small town, the group must band together to stop that from happening.
Throw in a white supremacist motorcycle gang, a couple of idiot cops, a stereotypically overprotective father, and you have a show that has no idea what lane it’s in, what lane it should be in, or even how to drive.
Not a lot. There’s at least an attempt at diversity; gay characters, biracial couples, and women who are just as tough as their male counterparts. If you really squint, there’s something in the show’s core premise, about outcasts fighting for acceptance and safe spaces and the strength of found families, which may eventually go somewhere interesting and worthwhile. The central mystery of who killed Aubrey should inevitably provide a couple of twists and turns. Considering this is a show about the supernatural, at least a few interesting characters are bound to pop up. Mensah is doing everything he can with the very little he was given. And, at the very least, most of the cast are pretty easy on the eyes.
A lot. The characters have about as much depth as a small puddle, and their motivations are shaky. Why would one murder bring so much attention to a little town in the middle of nowhere? Why do they let Manfred into their fold with such little hesitation, if they really do value their privacy? The local waitress, Creek (Ramos,) might have it the worst, though. While everyone else has a least one, albeit paltry, defining factor, it was painfully obvious immediately she was simply the love interest for Manfred. By the end of the episode, after having spent all of 5 minutes together, the psychic is already laughably implying he may be Creek’s soul mate.
Then there’s the visual effects, which are low budget, and not in the fun, campy way. The dialogue is rushed, overly instructive, and ham-fisted – don’t get me started on that voiceover used to explain who Midnight’s residents are, after we had already been introduced. The story goes in the exact direction you assume it will, so there’s very little to get excited about in general. And that thin veil between the living and the dead that Midnight sits on? That’s just a less intriguing Hellmouth.
It’s obvious there’s little substance to Midnight, and had the show been self-aware enough to realize this, the outcome could have been quite different. If Midnight was in on its own joke, I might be sitting here telling you that even though the pilot was silly, it owned every bit of that silliness and was kind of fun as a result.
Based off this pilot, I can’t recommend this as appointment TV. It was like watching True Blood after it had already gone to shit, and without the love for previous seasons compelling you to stick it out. However, I’m likely to give Midnight at least two more episodes, in order to flesh out its characters and start defining the kind of show it truly wants to be. If it can manage to reel in the cheese factor but avoid taking itself too seriously, it could become the kind of easy-going, summer fare you actually enjoy turning your brain off for. If you have the space, let it pile up on your DVR and binge at a later date. If not, don’t sweat it, I assure you there’s no need for FOMO on this one.
Watch This if You Like
The final seasons of True Blood and The Vampire Diaries, just don’t expect the same investment in character. If you’re looking for background noise that can provide a mild distraction while pretty people are on screen.
Midnight, Texas S1E1
S1E1 – “Pilot” – Starring: François Arnaud, Dylan Bruce, Parisa Fitz-Henley, Arielle Kebbel, Jason Lewis, Peter Mensah, Sarah Ramos, Yul Vazquez, and Joanne Camp.