Midnight, Texas finally returns this week in its new Friday night timeslot, 9/8c on NBC! Last month, I visited the magical, mystical town of Midnight … or rather, took part in a visit to their Albuquerque, New Mexico set. As we count down to the Season 2 premiere, I’ll be sharing some exciting stories from the cast and producers.
Up first in our Set Visit Diaries is Midnight, Texas showrunners Eric Charmelo and Nicole Snyder. They discuss making the transition from consulting on the series in Season 1 to showrunning Season 2, and the more serialized direction this year. They also tease a bit of what’s in store when we return to everyone’s favorite one stoplight town.
When you moved from consulting on Season 1 to being the Season 2 showrunners, what was the first thing the powers-that-be tasked you with?
Eric: Making it more sexy, salacious, scarier, and more along the lines of True Blood. Those were the marching orders.
What are some of the biggest changes?
Eric: It feels more serialized. Last season I think the show was trying to find its legs, and there were monster of the week elements. We still have that peripherally, but the relationships take front and center this season.
How did Season 1’s cliffhanger and losing some series regulars affect the process for Season 2?
Nicole: It opened us up to new characters and new storylines. We still wanted to service the things that were set up at the end of the [first] season — like the trickling of demon residue from Manfred’s ear. It really allowed us to brainstorm how to bring new people to Midnight and new “big bads,” and gave us a little more room.
Will it be easy for new viewers to start watching the show this season without watching Season 1?
Eric: I think you can come in fresh. Like Nicole said, we inherited two hanging chads from last season: Manfred being possessed by six demons in order to vanquish Colconnar that will have some residual effect this season; and the opening of the hotel which is taken from the book, but we expanded on it for the season.
How do you decide which characters or plot threads to take from the book trilogy and incorporate into the series?
Nicole: We got a lot of inspiration from the books in terms of characters, tone and atmosphere, but the idea of the hotel opening was about all we took from the books. We really wanted to be creative and out there. We felt like we used a lot of stories from the books in Season 1, so we just started from scratch.
Eric: In the finale last year, we hinted that there are ghosts in the hotel, but that’s just the tip of the iceberg. There’s a lot more going on.
Nicole: It was important for us to subvert expectations. It’s like Eric said, you set it up, you think it’s a haunting, but it’s so much worse.
Has Charlaine Harris, author of the trilogy that the series is based on, reached out to you about the season?
Nicole: She gave us her blessing. She was really lovely. We met her over the phone in March or April and she just said, “I do the books. You do the show. I enjoy watching it. Have at it.”
Eric: She was really gracious and said, “It’s your baby now.” She really didn’t want to know anything about this season because she wanted to watch as a fan.
As you push the envelope, do you find the network is more supportive of getting more graphic and daring?
Eric: Yeah, it was a marching order and I think we delivered in spades. We really pushed the envelope just in regards to relationships and sex appeal and gore and scares. It’s a mixed bag but pretty risque.
Are you setting anything up in Season 2 for a possible third season?
Eric: Oh yes. We’re actually shooting that today. After we vanquish the “big bad” of this season, we set up something for next season, and set up storylines for each of the characters for potential directions for next season.
Nicole: It doesn’t go very well for anyone.
Eric: The Midnighters have the worst luck on the planet, let’s just put it that way.
Eric: We certainly wrap up Season 2 in a very satisfying way and put that [storyline] to bed, so to speak. And we open up a whole new can of worms for Season 3 by the end of Episode 9. You’ll definitely get a clear direction in regards to where the show’s going in the finale.
What is the balance between story-of-the-week and overall mythology this season?
Nicole: It was definitely more monster of the week last season. This year is heavy mythology that unfolds in every single episode. It’s much more serialized, but we wove in a “monster of the week” here and there.
Eric: There are definitely close-ended elements for each episode, but every episode does not have a monster of the week.
What would you say that you both bring to Midnight, Texas from your time as writers on Supernatural?
Eric: I think what we learned from Supernatural was how to weave together scares and humor. We really tried to bring that to [Midnight, Texas] this season.
What are you able to share about the threat among the Midnighters this season?
Eric: The only thing I’ll say is last season, the threat was lurking under the streets of Midnight. This season, the threat is weaving themself amongst the Midnighters. The big objective for our townsfolk this season is to decide who is friend and who is foe.
You have some great guest stars in Season 2. Do you keep a running list of people you’d like to have on the show?
Nicole: We made a dream list and got really lucky.
Eric: We worked with Netsor [Carbonnell] on Ringer. We tend to recycle actors a lot because we like working with them, so bringing Nestor on board was fantastic. We honestly didn’t think we could afford it.
Nicole: As Eric said, we worked with Nestor on Ringer. We also worked with Jaime Murray, and she is joining our cast as well. We’re really excited.
Eric: She plays a very integral role this season.
You mentioned that the network wanted more of a True Blood vibe this season, which is challenging on a network series versus a cable series. How far did you try to push the boundaries?
Eric: It’s definitely in the same multi-verse [as True Blood]. We shot the [Season 2 premiere] as if it were cable, and then Broadcast Standards and Practices came hammering down on us when we delivered the first cut. We tried to push the envelope as much as we could.
Nicole: We had Bobo buy the Cartoon Saloon, so it kind of felt like Merlotte’s. We wanted it to be a regular set.
Eric: It’s the watering hole for the Midnighters and people in Davy.
A fan favorite character from both the Southern Vampire Mysteries and the Midnight, Texas books is Quinn the weretiger. He was never on True Blood, but is there a chance that he could be introduced at some point?
Nicole: He’s not this season, but he could be.
Eric: There are also rights issues with the books versus the show, so depending on that, you’re allowed to use some characters and not others.
How do you feel about the nine-episode season this year?
Nicole: I’m really happy with nine just because we’ve been off the air for a while. It was a perfect amount of episodes to tell the story we wanted to tell, and it was good for us to ease in from consulting to showrunners.
Eric: I feel like there are no burner episodes. It’s condensed and you distill it down to what you need. You have a stronger season because of it.
Nicole: And that’s why it’s so mythology-heavy, too.
Eric: Unless you have a franchise where it’s a case of the week, if you’re doing a serialized show, it’s really challenging to have to do more than nine or 10 [episodes].
Do you have any final teases for the upcoming season?
Nicole: I think everyone’s going to really enjoy — and we talked briefly at Comic-Con about it — the residue from Manfred’s ears is a sign of something we affectionately called “demon cancer,” and he is not very nice to his friends in Episode 1. And I think it’s really scary and really fun that the bad guy is one of our own.
Eric: Episodes 8 and 9 are going to be a two-hour block and plays like a mini movie. It’s really incredible. It’s insane and there are ton of twists and turns and jaw dropping moments. You aren’t going to believe what happens, and just have faith that things aren’t always what they seem.
Photo by Melissa Girimonte. Copyright © 2018 The Televixen