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'Happy Town' - 'I Came to Haplin for the Waters' Recap

by Bob Sassone, posted May 5th 2010 11:20PM
Happy Town
(S01E02) "I had some dreams, they were clouds in my coffee, clouds in my coffee ... " - Carly Simon

I'm not even sure what to make of 'Happy Town.' It's a murder mystery, but parts of it are so goofy you think it might be a spoof. The tone is all light one moment, then dark and deadly serious the next. Is something magical and ghostly happening or is all of that stuff just a red herring? Who the hell knows?

No, I'm actually asking you, who the hell knows? I want to talk to that person.

Last week I said that I didn't trust anyone in Haplin, Minn. Not the goody-goody sheriff, not his wife, not the new girl in town, not the old ladies at the house, not the mysterious owner of the new movie memorabilia shop, not the guy who owns the bread company and not the creepy guys who seem to just sit around in dirty clothes and drink all day long. I also pointed out Abraham Benrubi's character specifically. The big, nice guy who has the restaurant seems to be a little too nice and normal and the sort of character you don't suspect so you should suspect him. This week we find out I was right.

I didn't realize how right. Benrubi is the killer? That's solved already? It's a lot more complicated than that, of course. He killed Jerry Friddle in the shack because he thought that Friddle was the Magic Man who abducted all those people over the years. And now his best bud Tommy, the new sheriff, has to decide whether or not to arrest him. I'll give the show credit for doing a fake out about this show being about that murder.

I still have no idea how this connects to Candle Girl Henley coming to town, who seems to be less Candle Girl and more Veronica Mars with all her investigating. This week she finally got a copy of the landlord's key (I think Grieves the Movie Man knows what she was doing and distracted the landlady) and when she opened the mysterious third floor the room was filled with ... birds. And an old hammer. Why? I DON'T KNOW.

And to add on to all of the mysterious, weird things and people in town, we have the arrival of another stranger, eating tapioca pudding in the hospital cafeteria, the worst-lighted hospital cafeteria in the United States. The hospital is like the one in 'Halloween 2.' Then there's the scene where the girl is talking to the injured sheriff and then suddenly she hears the sheriff talking to her even though he's unconscious and then she gets all dizzy and runs through the hospital corridor and the guy in the wheelchair has a distorted face and then Tapioca Guy corners her in the elevator and asks "what did you see, bitch?" and then she wakes up in the house of the creepy guys who drink a lot who are arguing over the lyrics of Carly Simon's 'You're So Vain.'

Yes, that was a very long sentence but that's how the scene played out. This episode will go down as one of the most bizarre episodes of any show this year. Ten times stranger than any episode of 'Lost,' which is a remarkably grounded show considering it's about smoke monsters and time travel.

Actually, my favorite parts of this show are the ones like that 'You're So Vain' scene. Whether it's that moment or Grieves talking to Henley about great quotes from 'Casablanca,' it's fun to see these pop culture references in the middle of bizarre occurrences.

So ... is 'Happy Town' a good show? I wouldn't say that. Is it a bad show? No, I wouldn't say that either. How's that for a comprehensive review? All I know is that I have to tune in to see what the hell is going on.

More thoughts:

- It's too bad ABC's promos ruined the reveal about Benrubi. Shows like this need those mysteries to be held on to until the episode airs. Or maybe they don't think the show can survive without some big promo for it.

- The girl's boyfriend thinks that her dad beat her up. Why does he think this? And why did the girl just stand there when the boyfriend said "I'm going to kill him!" and then run out? Crazy.

- This show should have a soundtrack released. Last week we had Elvis Costello and this week Carly Simon.

- Next week another stranger comes to town. What the hell?

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Sir Yuck-Yuck

HEY BOB, where's the recap for episode 3 Polly wants a crack at her ?

May 15 2010 at 5:06 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Sir Yuck-Yuck

Julee Cruise did wonders with her dreamy outer space music on Twin Peaks which added to the show so much so I purchased the Twin Peaks sdtk. and even her debut album Floating into the Night. They should have her pop up in a future episode to sing something she, her voice, the song would fit right in on this show to.

May 09 2010 at 3:22 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

I can't believe how much they're stealing from Twin Peaks. I know it's the same as Twin Peaks at the premise level, but there are so many other details.

Last episode, Henley said she was from Snoqualmie, Washington, which is the town where Twin Peaks was shot. This episode, they refer to a character "Frost". Reference to Twin Peaks co-creator and showrunner Mark Frost? Tommy's office is almost an exact replica of Sheriff Truman's. The town hall scene was eerily similar to the one in the pilot of Twin Peaks. The scene with all the birdcages is stolen from the scene where Agent Cooper finds the cabin in the woods and inside is a bird in a cage. Twin Peaks has an ominous owl that shows up at bizarre times, and now Happy Town has a hawk?

And there's probably even more that I missed. It's absolutely ridiculous.

May 06 2010 at 11:55 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

I can't decide if I like it or not, or if it is any good or not, but I feel oddly compelled to watch it. I thought that Candle Girl Henley was definitely not a Candle Girl after all and more like Magic Man person. Who does she keep talking to on the phone and identifying herself to as Chloe? I assume she is the same Chloe that the Chopped Hand Sheriff keeps referring to in his painkiller-induced babble? And why did Crazy Cafeteria Creamer Man care who the other girl saw in the woods if it was the Benrubi Pizza Guy that killed Friddle? I did love the ending with the bird flying through the windshield of Henley/Chloe's car. You could tell something was going to happen in that scene but I still jumped.

P.S. I totally agree with yourstarla's Lost metaphor!

May 06 2010 at 2:26 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply


May 06 2010 at 2:38 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

I don't know if I can hang with this show. It might just be too weird for me. I really wish that the whole "mystery" thing would be a little more subtle. They banged us over the head with "mystery" and "weirdness" over these past 2 episodes. The way to create mystery is to build it up gradually a little at a time. Lost was about a plane crash and the people on the plane. Little by little we were brought into the secrets of the island they landed on. Happy Town is the equivalent to if the Lost plane crashed and it was instantly attacked by the smoke monster that then dropped them into the hatch and then they were immediately kidnapped by the Others and then they travelled to 1977 all in the pilot. I need some build up - a reason to care - otherwise it's just a bunch of visibly weird scenes with visibly weird characters who have weird conversations and I say "I give up" and turn the tv off.

May 06 2010 at 1:39 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Happy Town is really strange and really good. I see a lot of Harper's Island in this show. I love the characters and the fact that you cannot trust any of them. It makes the show interesting, and forces you to actually use your brain when deciding the townspeople's true intentions.

May 06 2010 at 1:07 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

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