6
May
2010
Happy Town: Season 1, Episode 2
I Came To Haplin For The Waters
Jordan
Ok, let's run through what happened this week in what amounted to a train wreck of an episode: The murder that was set up as the center of the series was solved, the dumb, apparently rampantly violent son of the Sherriff became Sherriff and decided to help cover up for the murder, Henley/Chloe found a hammer which means she gets to leave the town (and also means that the show is already coming up with convoluted reasons to keep her here in its second episode) and the show tried its hand at some David Lynch surrealism...and failed handily.

The episode opened with Sherriff Conroy rushing into surgery, and the ring that was made to obviously symbolize his devotion to his dead wife very obviously fell off his severed hand. From there, Tommy is whisked off to see Mrs. Haplin (Frances Conroy, who made the best of her pretty stupid scenes) who is either the Mayor of this town or just so powerful she gets to call all the shots. Sadly, the show doesn't feel the need to explain this to us, though it does take the moment to very obviously explain that Big Dave gets water shipped in from New York to make his pizza (which, by the way, is absolutely ludicrous if it wasn't a nicely laid clue that he was THE MURDERER). Turns out that random fact that would only have been mentioned if it would later become important became important about fifteen minutes later when it was revealed that the flour on the body had water from New York in it. On a better show (or, really, on a show that knows at all what its doing) this would have been so obviously a red herring that it wouldn't even have been worth thinking about. So I guess it amounts to a twist that he turned out to actually be the murderer, but if that's what the show was going for, its pretty much the dumbest twist I can remember. Further, the idea that the newly appointed Sherriff didn't arrest the murderer while they stood in his cliched, "crazy person" lair is just stupid.

On another front, Tommy's babysitter got drugged at the hospital, leading to what the show likely thought was a Lynchian sequence, but was actually just weird lighting, a few lens tricks, and a guy randomly quoting Carly Simon so that it would seem more mystical when it was played over the end of the episode. It didn't. Also, the babysitter and her secret boyfriend are clearly the James Hurley and Donna Hayward of Happy Town (to make yet another Twin Peaks reference since this show is clearly begging for it) in that they think keeping their relationship secret is more important than comng forward with what they know ABOUT A MURDER. I get it that these kids think their high school drama and star-crossed romance is really important and so dangerous they can't even be seen talking to each other, but seriously people, a man is dead.

"I Came To Haplin For The Waters" basically turned me off of this show to the point that I don't plan to tune in again next week. It showed that it cares more about its characters seeming weird and Lynchian than actually being Lynchian, that it doesn't know how to handle a long con or even keep a mystery going for more than a single episode, and that its great cast will largely be squandered behind the terrible central performances and behind awful dialogue and nonsensical scenes that exist simply to show what a quirky little town Haplin is. It may be a weird place to spend an hour every week, but its very far from an enjoyable one. Happy Town wants more than anything to be Twin Peaks for the modern set, to take the place of Lost and to keep people guessing about a central mystery week after week, but it couldn't even pull that off in its first two episodes. If it isn't canceled almost immediately, I can only imagine it will get worse. And that will make no one happy.

Grade: D

Notes:

-If anyone out there actually wants me to keep covering Happy Town for the remainder of its first season one, feel free to leave a comment below. If I get enough interest, I'll continue to suffer through the show.

-What was the point of Merritt and Henley/Chloe's little Casablanca exchange? Did the writers just want us to know they've seen a good movie once?

-Repeatedly yelling the question "Who is Chloe?" again and again doesn't make me care any more...

-I can't get over how sloppy and obvious the revelation that Big Dave is the killer was handled. It even included a close up of his pizza box just in case we'd forgotten the insanely obvious clue they had planted a few minutes earlier.
Tags: Happy Town
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