Alibi V.26 No.50 • Dec 14-20, 2017 

Idiot Box

Bloody Christmas

“Happy!” on Syfy

Syfy goes out on a limb—a severed limb, it should probably be stated—with its absurdly funny, ridiculously violent crime/fantasy series “Happy!” The show is based on the acclaimed graphic novel by legendary comic book creators Grant Morrison and Darick Robertson. Fans of the original will be glad to know it happily wallows in that world of “casual murder, soulless sex and betrayal” … and cute animal sidekicks. No, really.

The series starts with a bang (literal, of course) as disgraced former cop Nick Sax (Christopher Meloni from “Law & Order: SVU”) blows his brains out in a dive bar bathroom and dances around with a couple of Santa hat-wearing strippers as blood jets out the top of his skull like a fountain. Again: No, really. Turns out it’s just a passing fantasy on the part of our alcoholic anithero, but it sure as shootin’ sets the tone for the bat crap crazy series to follow. Seems our man Nick has fallen on some very hard times after being kicked off the police force and has taken up a career as a contract killer to make ends meet.

When Nick’s attempt to bump off a group of young mobsters goes horribly wrong, he finds himself being rushed to the hospital in the throes of a major heart attack. He’s also being pursued by what he assumes is a nasty hallucination—a flying, blue horse with a relentlessly upbeat attitude. Turns out, however, that Happy (as he’s named) is real. Well, sort of real. He’s the imaginary friend of a little girl named Hailey (Bryce Lorenzo). Seems that Hailey has gotten herself kidnapped by a deranged serial killer in a Santa Claus outfit. (To reiterate: this is a Christmas-based show.) Happy (voiced with appropriate verve by Patton Oswalt) has come looking for Nick to enlist his help in rescuing Hailey. Hailey, you see, is Nick’s illegitimate daughter. But Nick isn’t the man he used to be. He’s a foul-mouthed murderer who just wants the annoyingly cheerful cartoon horse to go away. Also, a bunch of mobsters are actively trying to kill him.

“Happy!” navigates its loopy storyline with over-the-top energy. The pilot episode is written and directed by Brian Taylor, one half of the writing-directing duo behind Crank and Crank: High Voltage—which should give you some indication of the show’s gonzo filming style and its too-much-is-never-enough motto when it comes to action scenes. Blood sprays frequently and with a great deal of generosity. Characters aren’t just killed, they’re generally impaled, cleaved, beaten to jelly or tossed out windows. Obviously, not everyone will adjust to the show’s tone—which careens wildly between cartoonish fantasy and gory pulp action. Think Who Framed Roger Rabbit? directed by Ralph Bakshi (Fritz the Cat, Wizards) and you’re halfway there. But the secret weapon of the series is the beating heart at the center of it all—the story of a lost little girl waiting for daddy (and her imaginary friend) to come rescue her. If this series can bring out those tender emotions—in addition to the raunchy humor and CGI bloodletting—over its run, it’s gonna be a perennial holiday favorite alongside Die Hard, “How The Grinch Stole Christmas” and Silent Night, Deadly Night.

“Happy!” airs Wednesdays at 8pm on Syfy.