Small town magic: Paranormal grab bag 'Midnight, Texas' returns for a second season

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Kenneth Andeel / TV Media
Francois Arnaud stars in "Midnight, Texas"

Francois Arnaud stars in "Midnight, Texas"

If you're searching for a dose of the macabre this October, an excursion to "Midnight, Texas" might be just what the (witch) doctor ordered. The horror-themed drama returns to NBC on Oct. 26 to fill your Fridays with outrageous supernatural delight.

In case you couldn't tell, "Midnight, Texas" is about a town, in Texas, called Midnight. Midnight is a small town that has something special going for it: Fortean beings of all sorts have flocked there for years, forming a haven for the weird and mingling with human townsfolk who are deemed trustworthy enough to learn about the multitude of bizarre creatures attracted to the area.

In season 1, viewers traveled to Midnight alongside lead character Manfred Bernardo, played by Francois Arnaud ("The Borgias"). Manfred is human but comes from a psychic bloodline and has inherited strange magics from his grandmother, a powerful medium. It was the ghost of his grandmother who compelled him to travel to Midnight at the beginning of season 1 for reasons unknown, claiming that he would find safety there (without revealing exactly what sort of danger he was in to begin with).

Upon arriving in Midnight, Manfred began to meet the various people and/or things living there, which, so far, include but are not limited to ghosts, witches, demons and half-demons, vampires, weretigers, assassins, succubi, angels and a talking cat. And that list isn't comprehensive -- other entities drawn from horror fiction and folklore made it onscreen last year, and further flavors of mythical beings are in the cards for season 2.

"Midnight, Texas" depends on a diverse ensemble cast of actors to inhabit this wide-ranging roster of beings. In the transition from season 1 to 2, some of these familiar faces will fade out while new blood is brought in. Season 1 regulars Sarah Ramos ("How to Be Single," 2016) and Yul Vazquez ("War of the Worlds," 2005) both opted for a reduced presence in season 2, and their characters have gone from main figures to occasional guests.

Jumping in to fill the void are three new major recurring characters: a demon hunter played by Josh Kelly ("Transformers: Dark of the Moon," 2011) and potential villains played by Nestor Carbonell ("Lost") and Jaime Ray Newman ("The Punisher"). Series favorites such as assassin/vampire couple Olivia (Arielle Kebbel, "Ballers") and Lemuel (Peter Mensah, "Spartacus: Vengeance") are back, so fans need not fear that the cast rebalancing will erase all of the unfinished storylines they were eager to revisit.

One of the things that fans of "Midnight, Texas" find so alluring is that it brazenly crams everything it possibly can into the network drama framework. The ensemble format allows for a slew of different character archetypes and a slew of different species. Thematically, the show is a pastiche of multiple genres, shifting between icky horror, salacious romance, vicious action, domestic melodrama, sweaty Americana travelogue and more. Viewers who prefer one of those categories generally don't need to wait too long before the show shifts gears and gives them the stuff they're seeking.

Arielle Kebbel as seen in "Midnight, Texas"

Arielle Kebbel as seen in "Midnight, Texas"

The show's everything-but-the-kitchen-sink approach to the supernatural has a recent predecessor in the TV world. Those aware of HBO's "True Blood," which ran from 2008 to 2014, will encounter familiar territory in "Midnight, Texas." However, accusations of "rip off!" would be a little unfair; the two shows come from source material written by the same woman. Author Charlaine Harris is responsible for both the Sookie Stackhouse series that was reworked under the name "True Blood" and the Midnight, Texas trilogy that was adapted for television without a title change. Both series are known for overcrowding a rural American setting with a plethora of supernatural entities and letting them run wild amid dark, forgotten secrets and shifting alliances that generate intrigue and excitement.

Writers for "Midnight, Texas" have already started rearranging the narrative of the written trilogy, and season 1 of the show plucked storylines from across all three books. The central conflict of season 2 lines up neatly with the plot of the second book in the trilogy, as a pair of human outsiders, hotel developers Kai and Patience Lucero (played by new arrivals Carbonell and Ray Newman), show up in Midnight and attempt to bring tourism to the town, to the dismay of the secretive supernatural types who live there and don't want to have to deal with an influx of curious intruders. While this conflict might seem to pale in comparison to season 1's (which involved the demon Colconnar trying to open a breach to hell to flood Midnight with his demonic kin), the showrunners seem certain that the surprises they have planned will not disappoint, and that what initially seems like a mundane storyline will quickly spiral deliciously out of control in the same way season 1 did.

If you have a soft spot for the spooky, make sure to check out "Midnight, Texas," when it comes back to life on NBC, beginning Friday, Oct. 26.