What We're Watching: 'Happy!' is Like 'Roger Rabbit' on Candy Cane-Flavored Meth

Happy! promotional image SyFy

What do Christmas magic, the wonder of a child’s imagination, and SVU’s Detective Stabler pissing with a fire extinguisher have in common? You’ll find them all in Happy !, the SyFy adaptation of a truly twisted comic book by Grant Morrison. And if you want to see what maybe exactly the opposite of a heartwarming vacation special, go watch it on netflix.

Here’s the setup: Nick Sax (Christopher Meloni, Law & Order’s most famous: Special Victims Unit) is a disgraced former NYPD cop turned hitman. He’s semi-homeless, constantly drunk, and has the instinct for durability and self-preservation of your average Grand Theft Auto protagonist. After a failed success gives him a near-death experience, Nick begins to see Happy, a tiny animated unicorn voiced by Patton Oswalt (who is no stranger to animation, having played in Ratatouille).

Warning: Even the trailer below is slowly Not safe for work and might disturb young children. Don’t say I didn’t warn you.

Happy tells Nick that he is the friendly innocent imaginary friend of an adorable innocent little girl, who has been kidnapped by a nightmarish pedophile version of Santa Claus. Thanks to a medical cocktail delivered at gunpoint, Nick is the only one who can see him. With the intangible help of Happy, Nick must save the young girl and uncover the plot that led to her kidnapping, stumbling through the nightmarish circles of New York City organized crime, depraved torture fetishists, and children’s television shows ( shiver).

Despite the setup that looks like a modern version of Who Framed Roger Rabbit, Happy! is by no means form or shape intended for children. In the pilot’s first minute, you’ll see Nick fantasizing about suicide, dancing with Christmas-themed roller girls as his disintegrating skull fragments sparkle in the starlight. And this is far from the most shocking or disturbing image in the eight-episode first season of Happy!

Happy goes mad while Nick keeps his cool. SyFy

But that seems to be the point. The story juxtaposes the darker tropes of the black detective genre with the saccharine hope of children’s animation and worn-out holiday stories. The cast is particularly bright: Oswalt is in great shape, which makes Happy Happy a My Little Pony character who hangs out in the last place you found one. And it’s impossible not to imagine Nick Sax as Meloni’s iconic Elliot Stabler, battered by decades of nightmarish work and almost resigned to a bloody, dastardly career like the kind of rude bas-feeder he was used to. to lock.

As a brawling, skinned, gun-wielding hitman, Nick is essentially indestructible to a credibility-testing degree – or at least he would if the series didn’t make it clear almost immediately that the pure magic is at play. A memorable scene from the first episodes shows Happy helping Nick cheat at a game of poker with drug dealers, whispering hands only he can hear. That’s before Happy innocently falls into a brick of cocaine, which somehow affects his imaginary body and sends him into a manic Daffy Duck episode. Nick drops the cards and simply murders everyone in the room.

Detective Merry and Blue SyFy

The surreal and indulgent violence of the series will distract you from what is actually a pretty interesting bit of dark fantasy. A somewhat stereotypical Italian-American mafia family is embedded in the plot, led by “Blue” Scaramucci (Ritchie Coster), an intentionally creepy children’s artist Sonny Shine (Christopher Fitzgerald), and a terrifying torturer and fixer, euphemistically referred to as “Smoothie” (Patrick Fischler).

The story has little to do with its female characters other than react to the madness of the situation. But in that limited capacity, kidnapped young Hailey (a very promising Bryce Lorenzo) and her mother Amanda (Medina Senghore) form a surprisingly moving emotional core that keeps audiences engaged in the Endgame. Merideth McCarthy (Lili Mirojnick) is Nick’s former police partner, another dirty cop who has yet to be arrested and his reluctant aide in the NYPD.

SyFy

At the end of eight episodes, you’ll find a conclusion that satisfies most of the time, while keeping the protagonists and most of the villains in play for possible further shenanigans. There is a second season of Happy! On the theme of Easter! it’s also on Netflix, and while its most disturbed moments are perhaps the most incredible things I’ve ever seen on American television, the low stakes and repeated paces make it less interesting. The high concept of Happy! Cannot survive very long before collapsing. So it’s not the end of the world that he’ll never see a third season.

Nick and happy SyFy

Happy! is a vacation-themed show that constantly surprises, if you can handle its more forgiving dives into crass situations (in every sense of the word). Check it out if you’re tired of Die Hard reruns and want Olaf from Frozen to occasionally snatch a Desert Eagle and Ice Cream from the Gangsters.

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