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Happy Town ep 1: The New Harper's Island?
Who Will Die First?
Watching the promos for Happy Town made me reminisce about the joy that the terribly-amazing Harper’s Island had previously brought to my heart. I was definitely hoping that the void in my soul would finally be filled with another over-the-top murder mystery television program. The first episode was kind of a mixed bag of Harper’s, Twin Peaks, Lost, clichés, and some exquisitely ridiculous dialogue.
Happy Town opened with a Camp Crystal Lake-esque setting, complete with the ominous moon and teenagers making out in a car. A girl emerged from the Camaro, only to encounter a spontaneous rainstorm and screeching vulture. Just as I was beginning to salivate over the thought that a man with a hook was going to hang her from a tree, yelling from a distant ice fishing hut (no, you didn’t read that wrong, ice fishing!) made her hightail it outta there. Ok, she wasn’t the first victim, so…
Cut to a man being murdered by pick and hammer—through his skull. Not a shabby way to kill off a character that the audience has zero attachment to. Plus, if you’re playing the drinking game, that’s 5 sips before the opening credits!
Meet the Suspects
Once the first murder is out of the way, we’re introduced to the residents of Haplin AKA Happy Town.
There’s a perfect little family, headed up by Tommy Conroy (inconsistently called “TC” by the locals) who provided an excessive amount of exposition during a typical Tuesday morning breakfast conversation. Tommy and his wife, Rachel, have been together since prom and they have a daughter named Emma. Haplin has no crime, and Tommy’s dad is The Sheriff. Thanks for all the info!
Next, there’s the overly-excited town realtor (I’m sure they don’t need more than one), who happens to be picking up the mysterious new girl, Henley—and her guitar, of course--from the train station. They drive around the town while chatting away about the town’s bakery, which employs 12% of Haplin’s population. I’m sure that statistic is vital to the plot because I was not the only person in my viewing party to make note of it.
Most importantly, this little tour-de-Haplin showed off the talent of the local graffiti artists. A mysterious question mark with a halo was sprayed on a building. What could that possibly mean? How did someone manage to paint such a huge one on the side of a bank (I have no idea if it was a bank, but it was a big building)? Oh the mystery!
Later, it was revealed that the little trollop from the steamy makeout session the previous night is Georgia, the Conroys’ babysitter. Tommy’s father, Sheriff Conroy, pulls up just in time for Georgia to reveal that her father has some sort of meth problem. This show is definitely keeping it classy. Tommy and “Pop” as he repeatedly refers to him as, rush off to some “banner” scuffle in town square. What small town doesn’t suffer from the periodic protest riot?
This “trouble in the square” involved a huge sign with photos of missing townspeople and a question mark with a halo, while a lot of back-story was being spewed freely by the protestors. Steven Weber, of Wings fame, was introduced as John Haplin and his daughter’s face appeared on the banner. If anything could be more important than Brian Hackett being broadcast in your living room again, he revealed that the “Magic Man” was possibly responsible for the people in the milk-carton-style photos. The best part of this assembly was a dude randomly blowing a kiss at another dude (homophobic?), thus inspiring a ballroom blitz. Riots are so in right now.
Somehow this event led The Sheriff to the Stiviletto Brothers, the stereotypical outcasts. They are creepy unshowered messes that generally spew a lot of nothingness. They are petty criminals which are always accused first, but never have anything to do with bloody murders. Let’s save some time, we all know they didn’t do it.
The Sheriff told Tommy in Latin (yep, that dead language) that there’s a bad moon a’risin’! He then babbled something about Chloe and then acted like he never said it. This happened periodically throughout the episode. She must be importante.
Meanwhile, Henley, moved into a boarding house with a buncha horny old ladies and a mysterious, distinguished older gentleman (from Jurassic Park, of course). The emotionally inconsistent den mother, Dot, warned Henley that the 3rd floor was absolutely off limits. If you go up there, you will be “terminated”… Subtle.
Later in the bakery, John Haplin witnessed the worst next-of-kin notification ever. An inexperienced Tommy and his handy sidekick, Root Beer (yes, a deputy sheriff named after a delicious caffeine-free beverage), delivered the sad news to the murder victim’s wife—in front of a field trip of small children. Hilarious. They then brought the widow to the police station for interrogation. Standard procedure, really. The Sheriff tried his hand at getting some info from the grieving woman, but once again, started babbling about Chloe and the moon shining through her mouth. All I can say, is this show is amazingly well-written when it comes to crazy talk.
Just to squeeze in some more clichés, there’s a little high school drama going on with Georgia and her secret boyfriend. Good ol’ classism is alive and well in Happy Town, and Georgia and her lover are from different sides of the tracks. Her fella is a Haplin and grandson of the queen of the city. Romeo & Juliet, anyone?
“The House of Ushers” is the movie shop that Merritt Grieves, the male boarder, owns. He’s flirtatious with Henley, the dirty perv. In the shop, he gave a random speech about the fictitious film, The Blue Door, about portals and gateways into the heart of man (very Twin Peaks). They followed this up with discussions of the Magic Man, (making Merritt suspect) and how he made people disappear so quickly, it seemed like magic. Innnnteresting.
An awkward dinner at the boarding house revealed that Jerry, the murder victim, was a pervert who checked out women at the library. The old biddies felt like he deserved to die, and one of them loves to say the word “murder” in the most dramatic fashion possible. The old shrews all have the hots for Merritt, and I foresee a catfight over him between them and Henley in the future. That would make for some great TV.
Following this, The Sheriff’s world fell to pieces. He confronted Merritt in Big Dave’s pizza place, and told him to get outta Dodge, which caused The Sheriff’s wedding band to slide off his finger. I think Merritt has some sort of weird electric charge in his soul like the island in Lost, or at least that’s the level of absurdity that I pray for. Shortly after this, The Sheriff lost his mind at the police station, babbling about Chloe and the Magic Man before hacking off his own hand. Typical Sheriff behavior!
Finally, Henley revealed that she is Chloe, and has the question mark and halo tattooed on her shoulder blade (what a skank!). Before the credits rolled, she started making her way to the forbidden 3rd floor. Oh the drama!
Official Happy Town Homepage
Ridiculous Quotes of the Week
“Easy peasy”—One of the Stiviletto Brothers
“Since I moved here, the back of my balls would test positive for high levels of baking powder”—Inexplicably Angry Detective.
“Jerry” --Pick & Hammer
Happy Town: The Drinking Game (Only play if you’re over 21!)
When any of these things occur drink the corresponding number of sips:
“Happy Town”: 1
The question mark with the halo: 1
Someone says “Chloe”: 1
Any reference to “Magic Man”: 1
TC calls the Sheriff “Pop”: 1
Cheap Scare: 1
Horror movie cliché: 2
Someone dies: 5