April 29th, 2010


Happy Town

Some of you may remember last summer's slasher-movie miniseries on CBS, Harper's Island, and how much I grew to love it. When I saw the ads for ABC's freaky new drama Happy Town, it struck me as perhaps a kindred spirit to Harper's and I felt compelled to watch last night's premiere.

I'm glad I did. While Happy Town lacks the isolated, gothic atmosphere of Harper's Island, it does share the latter's joyously creepy appeal. It's also been compared to Twin Peaks, but I find the similarities superficial at best. There's a murder mystery and a town full of quirky characters who all seem to have dark secrets, but the similarities end there. Happy Town is no Twin Peaks--but then, even Twin Peaks wasn't Twin Peaks by the latter half of its second season.

The writing's not awesome, it was a bit too expositional at times--though most pilot episodes are--and there were one too many instances of M.C. Gainley's Sheriff Conroy slipping into a figure state and gibbering about a mysterious woman named Chloe, as if the writers didn't trust us to remember that he'd already done it twice before, one time literally just seconds after another. But I like the story they're setting up with the Magic Man, a serial killer who hasn't struck the sleepy little burg in five years, and town newcomer Henley's possibly connection to him.

The cast is pretty good. It's always a treat to see Sam Neill, who shines here Merritt Grieves, a seemingly sinister man with a penchant for old movies (and my current choice for secretly being the Magic Man, though I suspect it won't be him; too easy). Amy Acker is always welcome on my television screen, though this episode barely made us of her, and Steven Weber is now officially forgiven for starring in 1997's awful TV miniseries of The Shining. Well, almost.

If there's one criteria for measuring how much you like a show, it's whether you'll tune in to see it again. I'll definitely be tuning in to Happy Town again next week, and will continue to do so, no doubt, until its quick and inevitable cancelation. I just hope they solve the mystery before then!