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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