NBC's 'Midnight, Texas': Crazy Town, Great Show

The network television business has still not evolved past the point where it is easy to dismiss any new series that a network decides to introduce in the depths of the summer dog days.

The validity of this way of thinking has been confirmed time and time again over the last few summers -- most notably in the scripted realm.

That hasn’t been the case with a slew of competition talent shows that have thrived as summer series. The one summer show whose longevity I cannot explain: “Big Brother.” On this subject I am clueless.

However, along comes this new drama series on NBC Monday night that is so crazy that I actually liked it. It’s called “Midnight, Texas” and it is far from the first TV show (or movie or suspense novel) to take its title from the name of a fictional town where all the residents harbor secrets -- some supernatural and some not. 



People usually credit (or blame) the original “Twin Peaks” for this phenomenon, but the idea of small towns with hidden secrets is at least as old as “The Twilight Zone.”

In this new NBC show, Midnight is the name of a small town in the Lone Star State where a professional psychic from Dallas decides to hide out because he owes the wrong people a lot of money.

He’s the kind of psychic who actually does see dead people, and their sudden appearance at inconvenient times in his life drives him a little nuts.

Sometimes, these spirits even attempt successfully to occupy his body, as in the scene depicted in the photo above in which he suddenly threatens the life of a hapless client. 

He’s a well-meaning psychic, however, who even admits to some of the townspeople he befriends that he embellishes his sessions with a degree of showmanship -- i.e., fakery.

When previewing a show such as this one, my instinct is always to keep an eye out for clichés and plot points I have seen before. Expectations for any and all derivative content is always high for a show like this.

What was not expected was that “Midnight, Texas” would be full of surprises, starting with Manfred the psychic, who is not like any other psychic character I have ever come across.

These range from the kid in “The Sixth Sense” all the way up to Theresa Caputo on “The Long Island Medium.”

And the secrets being concealed by the various residents of “Midnight, Texas” came as a surprise as well. The principal secret about life in this tiny town is that for many years, various factions have been at war, including bikers, vampires and at least one witch.

One of the consequences for Manfred coming to this town is that it happens to be full of spirits who died violently and who are now making themselves visible to him, sometimes in great numbers.

As a result, he really wants to move on to a town more suited to his situation. But unfortunately, there has been a new murder in town and the local sheriffs are not allowing anyone to leave.

Moreover, they have suddenly found his psychic abilities useful, which makes him a key part of their investigation. That doesn’t sit well with the townspeople, however.

You might wonder why this psychic chose this town in the first place. He chose it on the advice of his grandmother, who also happens to be dead. 

Surprised? Well, that’s how you should be when watching a show like this one that is so filled with mystery.

Here’s another mystery: How do some shows get picked up for the higher-profile regular season, while others such as “Midnight, Texas” that seem just as worthy do not? It’s another question about television for which I have no answer.

“Midnight, Texas” premieres Monday night (July 24) at 10 Eastern on NBC. 

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