TCA Press Tour: ABC's 'Happy Town' is like -- and not like -- 'Twin Peaks'
More verbiage from the trailer: "In Happy Town, every smile hides a secret. ... It's almost too perfect. There has been a murder. The past has come back to haunt this quiet town."
And in Happy Town, the Magic Man is the new Bob.
Series executive producers Josh Appelbaum and Scott Rosenberg say their show is "much more the real world" than David Lynch's seminal 1990 series about murder in a quirky small town.
"We certainly have surreal moments, but it's very grounded," Appelbaum said.
"Happy Town" begins when a small-town deputy arrives in Haplin, "Happy Town," Minn., to investigate a new spate of crimes. But his world is turned upside down when he learns of the town's real and longtime threat: a mysterious villain known as the Magic Man.
Appelbaum and Rosenberg's previous series collaborations include ABC's short-lived "Life on Mars" and the critically panned small-town drama "October Road."
Rather than compare "Happy Town" to "Twin Peaks," Rosenberg said he'd much prefer the "Happy Town" tagline to read "October Road: Where [expletive] happens."
Pointing to the room of TV writers and critics, Rosenberg recalled the negative reviews for "October Road." "We were treated like Michael Vick."
In all seriousness, Rosenberg said it seemed like a good time for a spooky show like "Happy Town" to succeed. Scary series are "either forensic porn ... or vampires," he said.
And again, unlike "Twin Peaks," the producers plan on resolving a whole lot of the mystery -- and fast.
"I think audiences can tend to be frustrated if every episode is entirely enigmatic," Rosenberg said. "Our mantra was to answer questions."
Spelled out further, Appelbaum said: "We will answer the question of who is the Magic Man by the end of the first season. To us, that's playing fair with the audience. It's a shocking revelation. ... It will turn the show on its head in a great way."
"Happy Town" stars Geoff Stults, Sam Neill, Lauren German, Steven Weber, Amy Acker, Sarah Gadon, Robert Wisdom, Jay Paulson and Ben Schnetzer.
ABC has not scheduled a premiere date.
-- Denise Martin
Photo credit: ABC