Is HAPPY TOWN the Greatest Thing In Human History? -

Is HAPPY TOWN the Greatest Thing In Human History?


Most new television shows are not very good, because good shows are rare. But what’s even rarer than a good show is a bad show that is so totally absurd that it’s great fun to watch. Such a show is Happy Town, which premiered last night and is not likely to last more than 13 episodes. It’s from the people who brought us the demented U.S. remake of Life On Mars; here they’re trying to do Twin Peaks, either not knowing or not caring that the world has had enough of eccentric small towns with dark secrets. But what made the pilot irresistibly fun was that it seemed to have been written by aliens and awkwardly translated into English, then back into alien, and back into English again, leading to a script where not a single line sounds like a human being could have said it. There’s a fine line between “stylized” dialogue and dialogue that belongs in The Oscar, and this show crosses that line, then crosses the line that shows the absolute farthest you can cross that other line. Leading to lines like this:

“Mommy and Daddy still sneak off for smoochy-smooch despite the fact that they’ve been together since prom. So tell me, Emma, why would we trade any of that to go to a place full of earthcakes?”

“The Thaw Fest is about dogs and carousels. Ain’t about darkness.”

“It’s Grow-a-Pair Day.”

“Look at you! Cuter than a mouse’s pocketbook!”

“You’ve got the ladies in the boarding house in quite a dither.”

“Chin to the moon, son.”

“I will make no apologies! In fact, I may just be laying across that slice of toast on his night stand!”

Then on top of the dialogue, you’ve got the acting: everyone seems to pitching his or her performance for a different show, but they’re all in their own separate ways trying to convey “weird” and “eccentric” and “sinister” with every inflection. (An old lady’s overwrought, giggly delivery of the word “murder,” as “MURR—DERRRR!,” is the defining moment.) Then on top of that, you’ve got the director and cinematographer casting wacky green light on the characters or trying to whip up spooky discombobulating atmosphere with every shot. The end result is the TV equivalent of a Midnight Movie, something that future generations will watch and enjoy in the same way that they enjoy the movies featured on Mystery Science Theatre 3000. And by “future generations” I mean “people right now, after a few drinks.”

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Is HAPPY TOWN the Greatest Thing In Human History?

  1. “The Thaw Fest is about dogs and carousels. Ain't about darkness.”
    you didn't say why he said this, which made perfect sense when you see the scene and listen to the dialog.
    Though it may not end up a good show, the creepy element is nice for a change from csi, medical, csi, medical, csi, medical…..
    Hollywood lacks imagination. Remake remake remake remake remake. I could write an original sci-fi or fantasy story that would kill just about anything coming out of hollywood. Too bad i don't have the connections.

  2. The series was shot in my town – Port Hope. I spent most of the time identifying friends houses, landmarks, etc.

    Amazing how they can change landmarks for shots – it was filmed last summer and the snow, of course, is phony,

  3. It appears to be garbage – but I was interested in the houses, etc. It's hokey to say the least. I know it's suppose to be in Minnesota, but the people in my little town aren't like that at all.

    Actually, our town is quite artsy, is a historical town and has quite a variety of people from theatre, arts, lawyers, etc. that commute via VIA. The train station in it is totally false. Our station is one of the oldest and is brick. Why they had to make it look like clapboard beats me.

  4. "… and is not likely to last more than 13 episodes." Considering that they filmed only eight, odds are you're right!

  5. It's inflation. 8 is the new 13. Or vice versa, or something.