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TV's Freakiest Small Towns: Bon Temps, Sunnydale, Twin Peaks and More

by Sharon Knolle, posted Apr 27th 2010 4:30PM
Happy TownWe've seen the promos for ABC's new series 'Happy Town' (premiering April 28, 10PM ET) and you don't have to convince us: Small towns can be pretty damn scary.

Sure, a lot of crazy things go down in the big city, but if you want the really, really weird stuff, you've got to get out to the boonies. You know, those wide spots in the road where the locals all know there's something strange going on but they're not about to tell you. Or save your hide when you stumble across their deep, dark secret. So bring your flashlight, a map and the sense your mama gave you, as we tour some of the strangest towns TV has ever seen.

Carnivale10. Mintern, California ('Carnivalé')
The traveling carnival was home to some very strange people and even stranger events, but some very dark things also went down in the tiny burg of Mintern, thanks to its leading citizen Brother Justin Crowe (Clancy Brown). His persuasive powers came straight from the Devil and his far-too-doting sister Iris (Amy Madigan) had a dark side of her own (torching a ministry full of kids? Not nice.) In between leading folks to his "Temple of Jericho," Brother Crowe received visions of his adversary Ben (Nick Stahl), a carny with a healing touch. Their paths were destined to cross, but not -- unfortunately for Crowe -- on his home turf.

Picket Fences9. Rome, Wisconsin ('Picket Fences')
David E. Kelley is known for bringing the quirk to all his shows (case in point: 'Ally McBeal's dancing baby) but this was his most off-the-wall invention -- one so wacky it nearly had a crossover with 'The X-Files' (nixed due to network politics). Rome was a place where cows gave birth to human babies and mayors were notoriously short-lived: One died from spontaneous combustion, another ended up in a freezer and minus his head. Want more weird? 'Poltergeist' psychic Zelda Rubenstein was the town's police dispatcher and the grumpy Judge Bone (Ray Walston) who presided over all the craziness was once 'My Favorite Martian.'

Smallville8. Smallville, Kansas ('Smallville')
What a change one little meteor shower makes. That catastrophe forever transformed this heartland town, raining down both a super being from another planet and enough leftover chunks of Kryptonite to launch an army of mutated misfits. Clark Kent landed in the quintessential American town -- heck, there's even a cornfield -- and learned good, honest, John Mellencampian values while battling future super villains. With all the mayhem and intrigue in Smallville, we wonder if Superman will ever get to Metropolis -- and if when he does get there, he'll find the criminals downright boring.

True Blood7. Bon Temps, Louisiana ('True Blood')
In the backwater of Bon Temps (supposedly a stone's throw from Shreveport), the Deep South's rich history isn't confined to roadside markers: Civil War soldiers like Bill are still walking among us, only now as vampires. Add in a psychic waitress, werewolves, shapeshifters and some mean maenads bent on sacrificing humans and you've got a pretty spicy supernatural stew. Top it off with a rabidly anti-vampire church and you've got a town where blood is spilled on a nightly basis and not always in the fun "fang-banger" way.

Eerie, Indiana6. Eerie, Indiana ('Eerie, Indiana')
What's the freakiest thing about the aptly named town of Eerie? The fact that its population stands at 16,661? Or that Bigfoot and Elvis both live there? When young Marshall Teller's family moves from New Jersey to this odd little burg, he quickly dubs it "the center of weirdness for the universe" for oddities like the pack of super-intelligent dogs planning a canine coup and a sentient ATM machine with a grudge against the townspeople. Let's not forget the twins who like to sleep in Tupperware. Sadly, the genial wackiness only lasted for one season, but co-creator Karl Schaefer went on to invent other small-town shenanigans in SyFy's 'Eureka,' about an ultra-secret government-run town of scientists.

Supernatural5. Every small town in 'Supernatural'
Brothers Sam and Dean Winchester hit Route 66 to hunt down urban legends like Bloody Mary and the Hookman that inevitably do their haunting far off the beaten track. Take Burkitsville, Ind., where the locals sacrifice tourists to a ravenous scarecrow to guarantee a good harvest; or isolated Rivergrove, Ore., where a demonic virus turns the townspeople into bloodthirsty killers. Scariest of all: Hibbing, Minn., where the backwoods monsters aren't supernatural at all, except in their warped enjoyment of hunting other humans. This show makes us never want to get off the freeway. Ever!

The X-Files4. Every small town in 'The X-Files'
'The X-Files' might be responsible for inspiring small-town phobia in a whole generation. Where else could such perverse customs as cannibalism, satanic worship, secret government testing, and some really scary inbreeding flourish unchecked but in these close-knit communities who frown on outsiders? Our favorite had to be Chaney, Texas, home to a peaceful group of folks (like a pre-AT&T Luke Wilson as a hunky sheriff) who led completely normal lives, apart from all being vampires, that is. The truth was out there -- small towns and strangers don't mix!

American Gothic3. Trinity, South Carolina ('American Gothic')
There really is a Trinity, S.C., but we're pretty sure it isn't home to a demonic sheriff who rules the terrorized town with an iron fist or his pretty mistress who keeps nosy reporters tied up in a shack in the woods. This show, created by, believe it or not, former Hardy Boy Shaun Cassidy definitely lived up to the "gothic" part of its name with a series of bold murders and a ghost that helped lead our young hero, Caleb, to the truth. Part of that dark vision came from executive producer Sam "Evil Dead" Raimi, who was always skilled at blending the everyday with the out-of-this-world frightening.

Buffy the Vampire Slayer2. Sunnydale, California ('Buffy the Vampire Slayer')
Life on the Hellmouth was tough: It attracted demons like tweens to Hot Topic, which meant the world nearly ended every week. If the Slayer wasn't fighting off hungry vamps, she had her hands full with the power-mad mayor, Dr. Frankenstein-wannabes and assorted evil gods, zombies and reptile-worshipping frat boys. The citizens of Sunnydale learned to ignore incidents like principals being eaten and even the urge to suddenly burst into song. Sunnydale finally went, literally, to hell but by then anyone with any sense had moved on. Which begs the question: Why did anyone stay in the first place?

Twin Peaks1. Twin Peaks, Washington ('Twin Peaks')
This quiet Northwest logging town seemed picture perfect, until the murder of homecoming queen Laura Palmer exposed its ugly, twisted underbelly. That mystery wasn't the only way this one-stoplight spot earned its badge for bizarreness: The locals were all just a little bit off, like the muttering Log Lady, who claimed her piece of wood spoke to her. The feds sent in the right man for the job: Inscrutable, cherry-pie-loving agent Dale Cooper, whose clues came via dreams of dancing, backwards-talking midgets and visions of the evil entity "Bob." It all made a lot less sense than 'Lost' and the bold experiment of putting filmmaker David Lynch in charge of a network show came to a quick end. But the bar for the truly surreal had been set at an all-time high.

What's your favorite freaky TV town?

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wow. this must be the very first list I've read by this website where I've never seen a single episode of any of the listed shows, LoL.

April 28 2010 at 2:48 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

sunnydale? how about sunnyvale?

April 27 2010 at 8:16 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

How about "The Village" from the original version of "The Prisoner"

April 27 2010 at 8:14 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

You guys picked some choice ones. Might throw in fictional
Cicely, Alaska from Northern Exposure. Also fictional suburban town Point Place in That 70s Show.
The Simpsons Springfield.
Lastly any of those Soap Opera towns, both day & night ones. Those people have to be worn out by now.

April 27 2010 at 7:56 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Cabot Cove, Maine. It had the highest homicide rate per capita in the Western hemisphere for more than a decade.

April 27 2010 at 6:53 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Sir Yuck-Yuck

Collinsport, Maine (Dark Shadows)

April 27 2010 at 6:15 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Two words for you - Royston Vasey...

April 27 2010 at 6:02 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to hedgehoggy's comment

Damn, I was watching LoG the other day too

April 28 2010 at 1:48 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
David Cook is my Idol!

What, no South Park?

April 27 2010 at 6:01 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Heh, great list - the first 2 that came to mind when I read the title were Eerie & Trinity.

How about Push, Nevada - I really enjoyed that series, was a shame it didn't carry on.

April 27 2010 at 5:45 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Scranton, PA. I heard about a documentary crew that went there a few years ago but they never came back. I wonder if Blair Witch happened near there...

April 27 2010 at 4:55 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

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