I was mildly looking forward to this newest Horror/Soaper, seeing that it was created by the same folks who took over the US remake of Life On Mars (saving it from the surprisingly dreadful attempt by David E. Kelly). I enjoyed their LOM-- despite my reluctance and fears over yet another bad BBC makeover -- but their previous effort October Road was a downright snoozer.
However, I gave Happy Town an open look. And I can't say I was anywhere near as happy as I was with the LOM remake -- and that I went into with severe doubts..
There seemed to be a lot of things Happy Town wanted to do, or be. They sampled the quirkiness of Twin Peaks, but it came off more as fan-appreciation night than genuine weirdness (a Sheriff that channels the dead, a forbidden staircase, the so-proper-he's-clearly-hiding-something Sam Neil, a mystery killer with a silly name: Magic Man). They wanted to tap the Lost crowd, but (even though I'm not a fan) they lacked the capabilities to draw some good ol' fashioned suspense. And, oddly, they probably wanted to be the next -- but better and more popular -- Harper's Island. (ABC must've really had some high faith in this project, after HI lost the ground battle for these kinda shows)
Here's the thing about the last mention -- Harper's Island was a much better show. Not just a better show than Happy, but, really, it was a well done piece of TV. It had a wealth of great characters, interesting storylines and subplots (modeling itself after the tried and true Ten Little Indians chestnut), and some good 80s style horror action. It was too bad CBS didn't try another round of summertime horror cliffhangers.
It isn't just the lack of real imagination by the shows' creators, but the overall production. The plot is a bit unfocused -- I mean, yeah, it's a mystery that will unravel over loads of time, but what the hell is it that we're supposed to be coming back for? To find out who the Magic Man killer is? Not that worried about it. To find out why the Sheriff suddenly starts talking out of turn? Uh, no. Is it to be entranced by the wonderful dialogue (sampling: BOY - I love you so much I don't know what day it is. GIRL - It's grow-a-pair day)? Well, maybe for a good chuckle.
I'll maybe give the show another shot next week -- hey, I'm a diehard for this kinda TV! But, I don't hold out much hope.