MIDI-nighters on TV

A few notes on genre “reveals” and on the TV option of Midnighters, all starting with a long digression.

Digression begins.

Back when I was a young composer, I went to an early MIDI expo in NYC. Then (and now) MIDI* was the communication standard that allows electronic musical instruments to talk to each other, and back in those days of tangled patch cords and 8-bit sampling, that alone was a pretty cool thing.

But one of the exhibits was even cooler. It was a guy playing a trumpet, at the end of which was something that looked like a mute. This device was listening to the notes be played, analyzing their pitch, converting them to MIDI data, and then sending them to a synthesizer. All in realtime!

He also had a footswitch to change the change the sound of the synth. So it went something like this:

Stomp. He was a trumpeter making the sound of a piano.
Stomp. He was a trumpeter making the sound of a guitar.
Stomp. He was a trumpeter making the sound of an oboe.

This is still a fairly cool thing to watch. In 1980-something, it was wicked awesome.

Suddenly, though, he clicked his foot switch, and the synthesizer shifted to its next instrument sound . . .

Stomp. And he was a trumpeter making the sound of . . . a trumpet.

But a dorky, synthesized trumpet, instead of the real one he held in his hands.

I looked around at the rapt audience, seeing who else got the joke. Only a few did, but we exchanged wry stares. It was a moment of sublime post-modernity, irony, and outright geekiness.

But it was also a warning to the wise: If you twist something around too far, it’s just the same darn thing you started with. But suckier.

Flash forward almost two decades.

I’m watching Underworld, what looks to be a diverting film about vampires and werewolves at war.

Stomp. Latex-wearing undead.
Stomp. Matrix-like slow motion.
Stomp. The rain-slicked streets of Budapest!

What could possibly go worng?

Then suddenly, way too early in the film, an astounding revelation is made: In this war, the vampires use bullets full of silver nitrate-something-babble, which kill werewolves on contact. And now the werewolves have developed bullets with something-ultraviolet-babble, which kill vampires on contact.

Stomp. Superhuman monsters at war . . . and they shoot each other with guns.

You know, guns. The things that kill regular people.

Except the vamps and werewolves die even faster than regular humans. So that one extra reveal brings us right back to normal. But suckier.

Wait! These things can kill people? No one told me that.

Flash forward to yesterday!

I’m watching Tremors 2 on cable, and of course I’m not stupid. I know it won’t be as good as the original. But at least I’ll get some more of those fantabulous underground monsters!

And yet here we go again. After a long and mysterious metamorphoses that promises a great new evil being unleashed upon the world, the underground monsters change into . . .

Stomp. Monsters that can run around on top of the frickin’ ground!

Stomp my beating heart.

A war where people shoot at each other? Above-ground monsters? Trumpets that sound like trumpets? Doesn’t sound so magical.

I find this turn of events to be less than beneficial!

This brings us to the Midnighters TV show.

Last October, Scifi Wire brought us an interview with former Charmed producer Brad Kerns. He’s the man that the CW (formerly the WB and UPN) has hired to look into creating a Midnighters TV show.

He is quoted saying:

It’s a very intriguing world. It’s a very cinematically visual area. At this point I’m not yet convinced that we’ve figured out how to make it a series. We’d want to up the ages of the characters in the book from all teenagers in high school to probably in their middle to late 20s.

Stomp. Twenty-six year olds who . . . stay up till midnight!

Can you feel the magic? Because, you know, when you’re 26 and the blue time rolls around, you’re probably, um, in a bar. Or watching TV. You know, like, hanging out.

Now I’m the last person to say that visual media must stay exactly like its literary source. Or that twists on an old story can’t create something new and extraordinary. Or that we authors shouldn’t be made rich by TV. No, you won’t hear those arguments from me.

But come on. When you’re 20-something, midnight just ain’t magic. I’m hearing a trumpet that sounds a lot like a trumpet.

Which sort of blows.

Update! According to web rumors the CW plans to bring back Veronica Mars with a brave new format: a few years in the future, Veronica has become an FBI agent.

Stomp! That’s right, an FBI agent . . . who solves crimes!

Now that, my friends, is a twist.

*Musical Instrument Digital Interface, to its friends.

100 thoughts on “MIDI-nighters on TV

  1. Wow, what perfect analogies!

    Begin Rant.

    I completely agree: twisting something too much makes it seem sucky in comparison. The whole idea of making the Midnighters in their 20’s is ridiculous. Obvious, no one at SciFi has bothered to read any of the books, or they would obviously know the impact high school has on all the Midnighters.

    What about the curfew? How would they meet? What about Melissa’s constant loathing of high school? It doesn’t make sense to make them 20!

    I don’t even see what they would accomplish by making them in their 20’s. More money? More ‘mature’? More adult viewers? I think many young Midnighters fans would probably lose interest quickly because it doesn’t appeal to their age group. Or is SciFi suddenly deciding to try to appeal to adults with a TV series based off a book written for young adults?

    Because, adults get bored rather quickly with Grey’s Anatomy, apparently.

    End Rant.

  2. Don’t blame Scifi! They’re only the messenger. It’s the CW who are eyeing this 20-something notion.

    Scifi have actually done some of the most faithful adaptations ever, like the Dune mini-series. They can option me any day, dude.

  3. Indeed, indeed.

    But the notion of the Midnighters being over 20 just doesn’t sit right with me.

    *eye begins to twitch at the thought of all the plot points that would have to be changed*

  4. well i think that it will be cool to see the TV show to see what is turns out like… but i do think that making the people in their 20’s is just idk?? not the same!!! its like they say… “The movie is NEVER as good as the book.” Also scott iv been meaning to ask you what is your favorite book that you wrote??
    xoxo Alexa
    P.S. i LOVE the movie underworld… and urnerworld 2!! their are awesome!!!

  5. well this would stink. why exactly do they want them to be in the mid-twenties? that would kinda ruin the book, or tv series, or whatever. isn’t the whole magic of the story kinda worked around their age and such? do they just want to trash the book (the CW’s of course).

    i would enjoy midnighters as a series, but if they plan on wrecking it, i wouldn’t watch it. okay, i lied, i would check it out first, then i wouldn’t watch it.

    personally, i think you should fight (or calmly work things out, with is fine i guess).

    i hope it all turns out well though. good luck


  6. I agree with the others. I think making the characters older would totally screw things up. And then they would mess with more things: maybe the powers, because Dess is just too “nerdy” with her math, and Melissa can deal with the thoughts crashing through her brain, no problem! And then the whole thing will be like any other show, but with an extra hour and a psycho kitty (which will then be tamed by Rex and made into a cuddly house pet).

    Argh. Sometimes TV goes too far.

    You know what would be cool though? If they took the midnighters and just fast forwarded the time line til they were twenty, and going around finding more midnighters, like a continuation. And you could have flashbacks so everyone could know what’s going on. Now that’s something I would watch!

  7. gahhh!!! tv show? finally this is brought up again!…scott, remember the begining of last year or so, you said there would be a tv show? yeah, i was waitng all this time… :[ but hearing about the possibilty of a show again makes me happy inside…ahaha, which brings me to my next point, i was thinking i could play a role in midnighters when the first time i heard about this, but hearing that the characters would be in their 20’s…


  8. I completely agree with everyone. Making the midnighters older would just be rediculous. I mean, the curfew wouldn’t matter, and Jessica wouldn’t be grounded, and if Melissa were in her twenties and hadn’t learned how to control her powers yet, then she probably would be crazy. Also, where would the other midnighters meet Jessica? A business meeting?
    Having the midnighters be in there 20’s would change most of the story line completely.

    I would love to see a midnighters TV show, but the characters being in there 20’s would just change everything.

  9. A Midnighters show would be so awesome!
    But..the characters in their twenties?!
    The characters would prolly be totally unlike themselves from the books.
    I mean seriously, that would ruin it for most people, ‘specially diehard Midnighters fans.

  10. Thanks all for your support. It’s a bit odd, complaining when TV networks threaten to massively increase your audience. But still.

    PS Alexa: I actually did like Underworld. I’m just against bullets that kill everything. In fact, I’m against bullets in general.

  11. cmon, they only want to make them older so they can have more sex scenes and have everyone be so full of themselves, if they were all in there 20’s, they wouldnt be able to have any of the scenes that are in the book, such as all the highschool parts, becuase they will be to old to be in high school, and the magick of a few other things just wouldnt be there, it sounds like he just wants to make it the way he made charmed

  12. It’s stupid and I’m going to hit them on the head with a herring if they do it.
    And yeah, sadly, one of the things I thought of when I first read about it was basically what Sarah said about…yeah.
    Plus, it sounds almost like it would be like ‘Friends’ then. Sounds far fethced, but still, don’t you think having twenty-something year olds who hang around all the time and have relationships within the group just sounds exactly like what ‘Friends’ was?

    Of course, now they can hang out in the coffee shop 25/7.

  13. I disagree with this midnighters show. I always thought that the midnight was a place that they had to go into not thats they wanted to. They were forced to. And now thier in thier 20s eww there going to love the midnight hour i dont know time to do what ever. And now thier in thier 20s arent they in collage??? not in bixby!

  14. “Of course, now they can hang out in the coffee shop 25/7.”

    Wow, that made my day! I don’t like Midnighters turning into something like Friends. Plus, it wouldn’t work. Isn’t the point of the group dynamics the fact that they aren’t all friends, but are forced to stick together because of … high school, mostly.

    It just wouldn’t work! Plus, why would any of them live at home. And if they aren’t living at home, and they aren’t going to school, where are they going to go? Rex can’t get kidnapped, Jess can’t get in trouble for having a boyfriend, they can’t get in trouble for having a curfew …

    Okay. I’m done ranting. If they actually made Midnighters into a TV show, I would watch it. Then go to school and complain to my only friend that has read Midnighters that it sucked and that I’d never watch it again. (of course, I’d keep watching it just so I could rant more later.)

  15. This is why I’m always so wary of books into movies or now…TV series. Nothing is as good as a book or even the pictures your mind develops to go with what you’re reading. Tonight I was being all nerdy with my friends and we were on the topic of books in all sorts of different titles and genres, and we talked about books into movies and fanfic. Now, I mentioned why I’m not really for books into movies (Even though I think they did a good job with the Harry Potter books and The Chronicles of Narnia) I’m really really against fanfic with one specific exception. IF the person takes a universe and its mechanics that a writer created and adds their own character with a story that follows said mechanics of that universe, I’m all right with that. I’m not okay with stealing characters that a writer created and changing their story into something else. Only you really know Tally that extremely well and how her mind works to be able to write down her story. Or Dess, or whomever. No one goes around changing our lives to make them what other people would like them to be. Anyway…that’s me going off into a tangent and ranting when I really should stick to the topic on hand. To make a long comment short, I hope they do the right thing with Midnighters.

  16. The Midnighters in their TWENTIES?!?!?!?! That would ruin everything! The plot would be changed so much it wouldn’t be Midnighters anymore. So many plot points revolve around the fact they’re high school students. How would they meet Jessica, Melissa would be insane by then(unless they make her in control of her powers, which would furthermore ruin everything)Jessica’s grounding and the curfew wouldn’t work..and I’m probably forgetting a lot. Plus, some committee or whatever will probably take the edge off 90% of it. Dess will probably be considered too geeky, so her talent will be toned down. The idea that two 12-year-olds screwed up somebody’s brain isn’t politically correct enough, so a subplot about Rex’s tragic childhood will be conceived, or else the spiders under the house won’t be brought up at all. Also, one of the best parts of the trilogy for me is that the secret hour is MIDNIGHT. And for adults midnight is not a special time. Rant over(for now).

  17. I haven’t read midnighters yet.. but scream no at the top of your lungs. Changeing the age group in a book or show what ever can compleately change the point of veiw of everything., One thing you might want to watch out for with scifi is the fact that alot of there book to tv adaptaions, made for t.v movies, and shows turn out well.. campy as all get out. (had to remind myself teens read this).

    Just if you chose to option either of them, try your hardest to keep some kind of creative control. I’ve seen too many awesome books, By awsome authors destroyed.

  18. ok first off, scott i am loving the wordplay in this post!
    “But come on. When you’re 20-something, midnight just ain’t magic. I’m hearing a trumpet that sounds a lot like a trumpet.

    Which sort of blows.”
    brilliant! haha.
    but i am so looking forward to the show, but not looking forward to the age difference. im not going to repeat what everyone before me has said, because that would be redundant. but really, if you can, talk to them about it, and try and persuade them to see that its an extremely ridiculous idea. love you scott, and kudos for the bullets comment, bullets are bad!

  19. the emails are so the government can track you..

    no my guess would be that they are a securety thing, for if you where to i dunno post a billion one letter responses.. then they could use it to block or repremand you. it could also just be a way for the site to get ahold of you if need be..

    keep asking questions.. they are good for you.

  20. Touche to you, Scott. The teenagers should remain teenagers or it wouldn’t work.
    It’s like having Ugly Tally played by a Mischa Barton.

  21. I think the reason they want them older has something to do with the success of the Supernatural series. Which is really good, I watch it avidly every week, but those characters were meant to be that age. And not to go against the almighty Scott, but I think it would be sort of interesting to have older midnighters, in the right setting. Maybe late teens/early twenties would be better than late twenties (leaves room for more complicated characters), and the character would have to be modified significantly. I might even work better if it was an alternate story in the same universe, say a different town with older but similar characters.

  22. But Alissa, college kids like me stay up til three am, and then only roll out of bed when they HAVE to, around 12 pm. I totally agree with you Scott, though it sucks. There are way too many shows that I don’t watch about 20-somethings for them to make another, which I probably wouldn’t watch either, though my Westerfeld alleigence is strong. I am reminded of a line from a certain movie having to do with pirates. “I would rather see her at the depths of the ocean than in the hands of a pirate.” Too many good things are ruined by bad movies/tv shows. And even good tv shows get cancelled..

    *mourns Firefly*

    Wow, college kids, pirates, and space renegades in one posty thingy. Awesome.

  23. well the only good thing that i can think of is… if Dess did find other citys… then they would probally go to collage in the other citys. And then something big is going to happen… and they will all have to go back to Bixby to do some really cool thing! but what can i say… i dont work for scifi?! And iv only read the first midnighter book… but i have the second on hold!! yeppe.

    Or Scott… you could print out this page of comments… and then mail them to the scifi people, and then they might see how many complants their was and change it!!! (just and idea?!)

  24. (Note: If it showed midnighters in college, they would probably spend the secret hour doing homework. No plot. Nothing interesting. Just some people doing homework. And why would we want to watch that?)

    Changing the age of any character is WRONG. Okay, so I wouldn’t mind seeing the midnighters as 14-year-olds having their own adventures and Jonathan showning up, but anything other than that and I’m not watching it.

    If you were making a TV Series out of a book, wouldn’t you want all of the people who had read said book to watch the TV part? I’m not sure they realize how many fans they’re going to loose. We should write a pettition!

    I will not watch a Midnighters TV Show if the character’s ages are changed.


  25. 26? Good lord, try 18. Pretty much the minute you get into college, midnight becomes early. My standard bedtime, if I’m not going to work the next day, is 2:00 a.m., often later. Is this guy out of his mind? And, um, no offense to Charmed lovers, but I stopped watching after Prue died. The show felt like a joke.

    Beautiful, excellent post, by the way. 🙂

    Also, I would like to point out that when I first got to college, I found it kind of boring. There were no rules to break. (Sure you can break laws, but that’s another thing entirely.) In high school, you could break rules every second of every day, something adults found childish, but which I found helped me survive the dull. Eating lunch in the bathroom or sneaking into the cafeteria to get a snack from the vending machines or hiding out in the basement when we couldn’t find an open lab to go to were some of the things that made my day. 26-year-olds won’t, as many have already pointed out, have a curfew, won’t have to worry about the sherriff holding them in a jail cell for the weekend, won’t be forced to go to high school every day whether they want to or not. And no parents!! Parents make half the “fun.” 😉 Definitely, the magic is gone. Plus, group dynamics distinctly change in college and above. The way people relate to each other and how friends are made and kept is largely different. In my experience.

    “This is why I’m always so wary of books into movies or now…TV series.”

    Mmhmm. Prime example- Blood and Chocolate by Annette Curtis Klause. Do. Not. See. Movie. Movie = massive quantities of suckage. They killed it. They killed everything that was good about the book. This is not to say that the same thing would necessarily happen to Midnighters, but so far it looks like the TV show is headed to the danger zone. Oh, and if the bullets in Underworld bugged you, you probably shouldn’t see the sequel. Although my personal recommendation is not to see the sequel at all, as I think it killed the original movie. Too many special effects and no PLOT. Argh.

  26. It’s true, me plus 15 of my other friends are all in college and we would never watch this as a TV series. It sounds aweful, it would be like a bad mix of supernatural, buffy and charmed..but just with a different title. It wouldnt be midnighters at all so they might aswell call it something else, and just make it another tv series.

    So Scott, think of how many readers you also might loose with this tv show, if its ridiculously sexed up, and theres more violence, and drinking and everything that comes with the 20’s, many many parents seeing this will not probably want their teen to read the series. They might not believe their kid when they say ” No honestly mom the book is much more innocent.” A lot of people having not read the book might judge the series and think that you actually wrote something like what its probably going to turn out to be.

  27. I no this has nothing to do with this blog post but I watched Pokemon episode 38 on youtube!!!!!!!!! Sadly, I did not get a seizure. 🙁 Do not think I am crazy but I thought it would be cool to be able to say “I got a seizure from watching pokemon.” Though I would not want a big seizure and die. I oplny wanted a minor one like Jen did.(if thats even possible) So ya, I watched the Computer Warrior Polygon(episode 38). GO ME!

  28. I like Pakka-Pakka. After I read that, I couldn’t stop laughing whenever I saw Pokemon while flipping through the channels. Then I had to explain to my friends why I was on the ground laughing when we saw just a few seconds of Pikachu and friends.

    Thanks for telling me what the email is for. It just didn’t make all that much sense to me. Thank you for explaining!

  29. It is wonderful that i’m not the only one noticing how things are going from FREAKIN AWESOME to AWESOME to HEY WASN’T THAT JUST ON THE NEWS! Still Underworld was awesome then again add Vampires to anything and i’m on board so the bar is set pretty low.

  30. I went to that site above…I sadly did not get a seizure but my eyes are kinda twitchy. I’m thinking of showing the vid to my grandma just to see what would happen…or maybe not.

    Yep, I agree with you Scott. Twenty-year-olds would lose the magic and the fun they have fighting the darklings in the book, I think. Speaking of Midnighters, I went to B&N to get the second book and they were all out. They only had the third in paperback and I cant just skip the second so I shall have to wait to buy it. Ah, well…

    My favorite thing about Underworld is the english accents. Very posh.

    Keep it up writing Extras.

  31. First off, I’d just like to say I play trumpet, so yeah, no dissing the trumpeters Scott!!!

    But with the show, I guess I was kind of hopeing that they would actually start out where the books did. I really want to see that on TV, I dunno, maybe thats asking too much. But I don’t want to see them all grown up and crap! Thats icky!

  32. I love the midnighters series, but i have to jump on the give-their-20’s-a-chance train. It isn’t like they will go from 15 to 26 in one season. In a best case scenario, where you get characters aging one year per season, that is 11 years of television. That is a loooong time.

    Buffy the Vampire Slayer lasted 7 seasons, and it’s spin off Angel lasted 5. both wildly popular shows with similar outside of normal reality premises. What the midnighters actually fight for would become important, would drive them. That is something that will last beyond just the age 18. their uniqueness will not go away because their 20something.

  33. that’d just be weird. i mean, 26? they’d probably sex everything up! curfew wouldn’t make any sense! they wouldn’t even be in collge! and you wouldn’t see dess’s mathematics all of the time or melissa getting to develop her powers! and they’d probably sex everything up between jonathon/jessica and maybe even rex/melissa! oh, and jessica getting grounded would be pointless. she’s not gonna ground herself, and she wouldn’t live with her parents. even if she did, you can’t really ground you 26-year-old daughter! her being grounded is a big point!

  34. well, it would be be cool to see Midnighters as a TV show! But having some 20 something years old person playing the roles. . . it won’t be the same.

  35. I’d love to see Midnighters as a TV show too, but that’s just ridiculous…
    P.S.–You were a young composer, Scott???

  36. I’d love to be all tough and say “If they make them 20 there’s no way I’ll ever watch the show!!” but if I did, I’d be lying. I just love the whole story too much to not see what they do with it. I mean, hello! It’s still midnighters!!!

  37. when you first started talking about midnighters being turned into a show i wasnt too happy. i mean, shows/movies never seem to do the books justice (ie ella enchanted need i say more?) and it would kill the story. no cerfew problems,no parental restrictions ie jessica’s grounding sentance. BAD IDEA SCOTT

  38. Hey yall sory its been so long had alot of thing come up pluss for the fact that i have to use the school computors for this and spring break was last week DANGE I mist alot cool cover on EXTRAS Scott.

  39. i agree with caitlin. that would be really cool. i always wanted to know what would happen after the end of book 3. why can’t you make another book scott? it would surely be welcome.

  40. I haven’t really read midnighters yet (I just got hooked on Peeps and I now want to read the sequel), and I probably will read it because it sounds hell of interesting.

    Now, since its based on YOUNG ADULT LITERATURE shouldn’t the main characters that are normally young adults be…I don’t know…YOUNG ADULTS? I mean honestly, doing that could possibly ruin the whole thing.

    So I sincerely hope that they stick to the ‘teenage’ thing. After all, adults can be interesting and all but…Teens can be even BETTER some times (no offense :D), especially ones with special powers.

    That’s just my oppinion on the matter.

    Also, I’m a charmed fan (and a Buffy fan too). So yeah, I love supernaturally themed series (i.e. supernatrual, Charmed, Buffy, Angel…some other ones that I can’t think of…)

    Well, good luck with every thing!!!

  41. okay… so apparently people here dont realize that when you go to College there are dorms, some w/ curfews. And changing a few things like making Bixby a College town (which would only make it slightly larger) Or they could be going to a community college… and still living at home.

    There are a lot of ways to make it like they are in highschool. w/o having them in highschool.

    although i do think it would be best for them to still be in highschool.

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