Happy Town – Has ABC Lost Faith In It?
I came across this show after screening the much self-hyped premiere of ABC’s dismal and soon-to-be-forgotten series The Deep End. First of all, let me say that this is one heck of a show! Given the track record of exec producers Josh Appelbaum and Scott Rosenberg with critical and ratings bomb October Road and the ratings challenged Life On Mars, it is understandable that ABC would be squeamish about going forward with this series that was filmed last March, yet still sits in the ABC vault. Still, having seen this show and before even knowing who the exec producers were, I kept on comparing October Road to Happy Town. Perhaps because its lead, Geoff Stults, as well as Jay Paulson were both supporting players on October Road. At first, the idea of a comparison was crazy, except that they both take place in small towns, this one being Haplin, MN. But then it became more apparent that if you took October Road, and made a lot of crazy awful stuff happen there, you have your new and improved series.
It’s not black and white in the first couple of episodes as to whether each of the characters are good or evil and there is a lot of mystery surrounding most of them. Sam Neill’s shopkeeper character in particular, is one of the most intriguing personas in that he seems to know a lot about what’s going on but knows how to keep himself out of trouble. It’s also great to see Six Feet Under’s Francis Conroy back on the air as mysterious matriach Peggy Haplin. Nevertheless, character development is everything here and this show knows how to put together a complex cast of characters. And although there might be a serial killer involved here, don’t even try to compare this to the blood bath of CBS’s Harper’s Island, which featured one dimensional caricatures straight out of the Friday The 13th movies. The first big mystery surrounds the identity of The Magic Man, who abducts people and leaves no trace of them. It’s hinted that it’s someone we already know.
There are also some comparisons to Twin Peaks. I suppose that makes sense, but personally never got that show and this one is at least more firmly rooted and related to our world as opposed to the “bizarro” world that Twin Peaks took place in. I’ll stick with the “October Road except for now stuff happens” comparison.
This show is akin to a great mystery book. A book in which I found impossible to put down and was even more depressed after watching the first two episodes that I have no idea when I will finally get some answers! The pace is faster than LOST or many of the other serial failures ABC tried out (Nine, Invasion to name a few) and the storylines are instantly addicting. One thing is for certain and that is nothing is certain here in Happy Town.
So here is my personal plea to ABC: Please get behind Happy Town and put these 8 episodes on your schedule and do the type of promoting that made Desperate Housewives a household name. While we’re at it, why not schedule this following Desperate Housewives for a few weeks and give Brothers And Sisters a little break. Perhaps we can then forgive you for rushing The Deep End onto your schedule first.
“Happy Town” stars Geoff Stults as Tommy Conroy, Sam Neill as Merritt Grieves, Lauren German as Henley Boone, Steven Weber as John Haplin, Amy Acker as Rachel Conroy, Sarah Gadon as Georgia Bravin, Robert Wisdom as Roger Hobbs, Jay Paulson as Eli “Root Beer” Rogers and Ben Schnetzer as Andrew Haplin.
Recurring stars include Frances Conroy as Peggy Haplin, Abraham Benrubi as Big Dave Duncan, M.C. Gainey as Sheriff Griffin Conroy, Peter Outerbridge as Handsome Dan, Warren Christie as Greggy Stiviletto and Sophia Ewaniuk as Emma Conroy.
Josh Appelbaum (“Life on Mars,” “Alias,” “October Road”), André Nemec (“Life on Mars,” “Alias,” “October Road”) and Scott Rosenberg (“Life on Mars,” “October Road”) are executive producers. “Happy Town” is produced by ABC Studios.
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