manifest

TCA 18: Midnight, Texas goes off-book, Manifest 'inspired by This Is Us'

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Aug 8, 2018

There’s a ton of genre TV coming from conventional networks (that usually just put out a lot of straight dramas) and NBC is no exception.

At the network’s TCA panel, execs from supernatural southern drama Midnight, Texas talked about the show and its upcoming second season while haunted, time-warping flight newcomer Manifest discussed its debut.

New Midnight, Texas executive producers Eric Charmelo and Nicole Snyder discussed where they go from the Charlaine Harris books the series was adapted from. “In Season 1 we kind of went through all three books, so we have jumping off points,” Snyder said. “The end of Season 1 is from the books. We have new owners of the hotel in town, but the rest is new and crazy and not Charlene-approved but we hope she likes it.” This is now the Wild West of the already supernaturally, vampire-and-witch-filled West.

Charmelo chimed in that, “We wanted to continue to explore Midnight as this place for misfits and sanctuary city. Kia is the man who runs the new hotel and he poses the question of if you could have a choice to be different would you still take it, or would you take the path to assimilate?” Kia will be played by Nestor Carbonell in the upcoming season, whose dramas will center on the new ownership - and another new character. “[Walker] Chisum will cause complications with Joe and his marriage to Chuy. We will have several love triangles this season,” Snyder said.

As for the logistics of its second season? “It’s going to start in October as a Halloween event. It will be nine episodes shown over eight weeks,” Snyder said. Midnight, Texas returns on October 26.

Speaking about his new show, Manifest creator Jeff Rake described the mystery series as one with plenty of character work to support its Twilight Zone-esque premise. “A plane has disappeared and then it reappears. It’s one aspect of the show and has been inspired by event mysteries that have come before. But it’s also inspired by This Is Us and great relationship dramas,” Rake said. “The show is about a family being able to heal....so too will Manifest exist in the lives of our characters: there will be supernatural elements but there will be a lot about the relationships.” Taking the genre inspiration, then adding the serious drama elements people expect from their main networks will likely help the hybrid show find a more mainstream audience.

Rake also knows exactly where the show’s going, and who’ll be taking it there. “Writers are 50/50 with males and females in the room,” Rake said, emphasizing the show’s gender parity on the writing staff and its efforts towards diversity in cast and director choices. “We also have a transgender writer.”

These writers will help Rake deliver the idea he’s had bouncing around his head for a decade. “Now that I have writers, I have told them where we start and where we’ll end, but there are a lot of blank parts in the middle for us to create,” Rake said. This isn’t a mystery for the sake of mystery — Rake has an ending in mind, though if it’s for the season or the series is unclear.

Manifest premieres on September 24.

Click here for SYFY WIRE’s full coverage of the TCA 2018 summer press tour.