Happy Town Review: So... Where are the Bodies?

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In order to succeed, Happy Town must be a fast-moving show. Other failed attempts by ABC to duplicate Lost (hello, FlashForward and V) have tanked in the ratings largely because they feature under-developed characters and boring, wayward plots.

On the flip side, consider the popularity of The Vampire Diaries and the way its handled its ever-evolving, answer-filled set of storylines.

The series premiere of Happy Town threw a lot at viewers and intrigued me to the point where I excitedly tuned in again last night. But something strange happened on "I Came to Haplin for the Waters" and it had nothing to do with the Magic Man.

It felt like the show couldn't fill an hour of television. Literally.

The New Sheriff

Multiple scenes and conversations just dragged on, as if the writers only had enough for a 45-minute show. First, there was the extraordinarily odd instance of Henley sneaking out to copy Mrs. Meadows' third floor key.

This involved the use of slow motion, a dramatic score, a dance between Merritt Grieves and Mrs. Meadows. It was directed as if this was the concluding scene of a season finale, not a random sequence about 10 minutes into episode number-two.

Then, there was Georgia's drugging. This could have been interesting as a way to introduce the individual who we later learned was from the state police force and assigned to help with the Haplin murder. But, again, it dragged on and on and on.

Clearly, Happy Town thinks the way to draw in viewers is simply to confuse them. But this isn't accomplished by five minutes of flashing lights, out-of-focus camera shots and images of a character screaming. It's way too much. Just write fascinating characters, please. That's all we ask for.

Then, there was the utterly lame conversation between Tommy and Big Dave, after the former learned his best friend was a killer. It went like this:

Tommy: You did it?
Big Dave: Jerry was the Magic Man.
Tommy: No, he wasn't.
Dave: Yes he was.
Tommy: No, he wasn't.
Dave: He told me where the bodies were buried.
Tommy: You're an idiot.
Dave: He told me where the bodies were buried.
Tommy: What are we gonna do?

And on and on and on it went. How did Tommy not ask where the bodies were? Shouldn't the show's very next scene have been this pair searching for them?!?

Moreover, this storyline changes the tone of the show. We don't know Tommy or Dave well enough yet to care about their friendship or this cover-up. By not turning his pal in, Tommy just looks unethical and incompetent, not loyal.

If Happy Town is about mysterious happenings and intrigue, let it be about that. If it's about characters and how they interact with one another, it must do a much better job at developing these people.

I am intrigued by Henly/Chloe, however. Actress Laura German is GORGEOUS, for starters, and I'll watch the show again next week to find out more about her agenda. I'll also be hoping Big Dave turns himself in, so we can move past this storyline and on to more Magic Man-related material.

What did you think of the episode?

Review

Editor Rating: 2.5 / 5.0
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User Rating:

Rating: 3.4 / 5.0 (20 Votes)

Matt Richenthal is the Editor in Chief of TV Fanatic. Follow him on Twitter and on Google+.

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