December 7, 2017

SHOWBUZZDAILY Series Premiere TV Review: “Happy!”


HAPPY! – Wednesday 10PM on Syfy – In the Queue

HAPPY! counts as one of Syfy’s infrequent big swings, although its ultra-violent grunge aesthetic gives it a look and feel that isn’t all that different from the network’s usual diet of micro-budgeted co-productions.  This one, though, has a name star in Christopher Meloni, and it’s been co-created by Brian Taylor, best known for his partnership with Mark Neveldine on the cult classic Crank movies.  (Patrick MacManus will serve as regular showrunner of the series.)

Taylor’s partner this time is Grant Morrison, whose comic book series (art by Darick Robertson) served as the show’s inspiration.  The conceit is crazed but simple:  one-time hero cop and now dissolute hit man Nick Sax (Meloni), on the brink of death after being shot by one of his targets, returns to life with a bizarre new companion, a flying animated miniature blue unicorn named Happy (voiced by Patton Oswalt).  Happy is actually the imaginary best friend of a little girl named Hailey (Bryce Lorenzo), who’s been kidnapped by an extremely bad man dressed up as Santa, and there’s a reason why Nick is the only one who can see Happy and help him rescue the girl.  Meanwhile, Nick is being hunted by any number of gangsters and sociopathic torturers, thanks to his having possession of a password that used to belong to a dead crimelord, which may have something to do with demons walking the earth.  Nick’s only other ally is corrupt cop Meredith (Lili Mirojnick), with whom he has a history.

Taylor directed the pilot, and it’s very Crank-like in its frenzied pace and spurting bloodshed.  It’s a fun ride, as far as it goes, but it lacks the ticking clock that was a key to Crank‘s success; since this is a continuing series, for all Happy‘s speed, it can’t really get anywhere very quickly.  Instead, it pours on gory action scenes, and relies on the surreal buddy cop chemistry of the nihilistic Nick with the perpetually cheery Happy.  Meloni is all in, and the show he puts on is a kick to watch as he mixes slapstick with gutter murderousness.  It’s not clear, though, whether Happy will ever be any more than a good-natured counterpoint, without much territory for Oswalt to plumb.  The other characters are one-dimensional, and the dialogue substitutes profanity for zip.

Happy! provides an enjoyable hour.  The question is whether it has any tricks up its sleeve, because as wild as the premise is, it’s going to get tired quickly if the dynamic has nowhere to go.  For now, the reactions of viewers are less likely to live up to the title than to be, say, Intrigued!


About the Author

Mitch Salem
MITCH SALEM has worked on the business side of the entertainment industry for 20 years, as a senior business affairs executive and attorney for such companies as NBC, ABC, USA, Syfy, Bravo, and BermanBraun Productions, and before that, at the NY law firm of Weil, Gotshal & Manges. During all that, he has more or less constantly been going to the movies and watching TV, and writing about both since the 1980s. His film reviews also currently appear on and In addition, he is co-writer of an episode of the television series "Felicity."