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TV Series Review

Happy Town is not, really.

Oh, sure, some individuals may be "happy" in a relative sort of way. But if a town was somehow able to express emotions, Haplin, Minn., would be more likely to shift its traffic lights nervously while wringing its intersections. Haplin is home to too many murders, disappearances and mysterious happenings to be a truly happy place—unless it's a Jack Nicholson-chopping-through-a-door kind of happy.

Residents might've been able to kid themselves for a while. It's been years since Haplin experienced any sort of crime at all, thanks (apparently) to Sheriff Griffin Conroy and good, clean, small-town living. But years ago, Haplinites had developed a habit of going missing. Several—some of them kids—vanished and were never seen again. And the townsfolk attributed the mysterious disappearances to someone they dubbed the "Magic Man."

Now, a local's gotten himself murdered, and the good sheriff has started cutting off his own appendages in a fit of insanity. Old-timers think the Magic might be back—and not in a good way.

With the sheriff losing touch (so to speak), the burden of uncovering the killer falls on his laid-back deputy/son Tommy, mysterious newcomer Henley and a smattering of busybodies—many who keep their own secrets.

From its commercials, Happy Town might seem to be a network horror-fest, built on the not-so-successful foundations laid by CBS'  Harper's Island in 2009. But while Harper's proved to be a dumbed-down (if that's possible) slasher flick extended over 13 episodes, Happy aspires to be a cut-rate Twin Peaks.

Oh, and it aspires to showing more blood, too. Happy Town exceeds the graphic violence quota of many PG-13 thrillers and actioners at the theater—loaded as it is with knives and guns and axes and chisels. It's only a matter of time before one of the writers introduces a wood chipper.


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Episode Reviews

HappyTown: 4282010



Readability Age Range



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; Ben Schnetzer as Andrew Haplin






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On Video

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Paul Asay

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