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Mysteries of Happy Town

Published April 26, 2010 in Television
By Fred Topel | Image property of ABC
Happy Town Happy Town

ABC’s new show Happy Town is asking a lot of questions before it even starts. It’s not just “Who is the Magic Man?” It’s “Is this another Twin Peaks? Is this Stephen King?” The show’s creators, Scott Rosenberg and Josh Appelbaum, tackled the comparisons.

Happy Town

“I ran into someone who was in Twin Peaks recently,” Rosenberg said. “I said to her, ‘I'll give you a dollar for every review of my new show that doesn't mention your show, and I guarantee you I won't wind up owing you a nickel.’ It's one of those things that you sort of can't avoid. It's a spooky, small-town show, and that was sort of the gold standard for spooky, small-town shows, so I think we have to embrace it and hope that. It's certainly not Twin Peaks. It's a different time. It's a different show. But at the same time, there is a lot of Twin Peaks DNA in Happy Town.”

Appelbaum added, “It's a show made by some of the biggest Twin Peaks fans on the planet. That's for sure.”

Happy Town could also draw comparisons to other mysterious shows like Lost, or even the less successful ones like The Nine or Life on Mars. “One thing that we really focused on in the show is giving answers in a swift fashion,” Appelbaum said. “Every time we raise a question, I would say for the most part, by the next episode, you will be getting an answer to that question which, of course, will open up into another question. With this, the idea is to really be giving individual satisfactions within each episode to reassure the audience that answers are coming and that it's not just going to be dragging something else.”

Of course, answers are only as good as the questions they’re answering. “Basically, our mantra, as Josh said, to answer a question,” Rosenberg explained. “By the end of the episode, we will give you the why, but we won't tell you the where, the when, or the how. Then maybe the next episode, we'll give you the where. You know what I'm saying? So you're getting answers, so you feel like by the end of each episode that you have eaten a meal, but you're still hungry for the next.”

So just give Happy Town eight episodes and you’ll even know who the Magic Man is. “We will answer the question of who is the Magic Man by the end of the first season,” Appelbaum said. “In the final moments of the first season, that answer will be revealed, which is, to us, real kind of playing fair with the audience. The audience is going to find out who the Magic Man is. That doesn't mean the rest of the ensemble will. When you find out, it's a shocking revelation, so it will really turn the show on its head in a great way. It's not going to be as simple as, ‘Oh, now let's go arrest that person.’ It's going to have cataclysmic repercussions for the fabric of the town.”

Happy Town begins April 28 on ABC.

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Fred Topel
Sources: Image property of ABC

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