Law & Order: SVU alum Christopher Meloni is swapping his old partner in for Patton Oswalt in Happy!. Premiering tonight on Syfy, the TV series (based on the graphic novel by Grant Morrison and Darick Robertson) finds disgruntled cop turned hit man Nick Sax (Meloni), shot while out on a job. The near-death experience – or perhaps his overindulgence in drugs and alcohol – causes him to see Happy (voiced by Oswalt), a disgustingly cheerful, blue-winged horse. It turns out he's the imaginary friend of Hailey, a young girl who has kidnapped by the deranged Very Bad Santa. Only Happy can lead Nick to her whereabouts -- that is, if he can get his act together, overcome his addictions and avoid the goons hot on his trail.
Ahead of the series' premiere, showrunner Patrick Macmanus spoke to CBR about Happy!’s crazy concept, anti-hero Nick Sax, whether Happy truly exists and pushing the boundaries of adult content on basic cable.
CBR: It’s really difficult to nail down Happy!’s premise in one cohesive tagline and do it justice. Was that something that excited you, that it’s not so easily defined?
Patrick Macmanus: The short answer is, “Yes.” I’ve told the story about how I was sent the script: I had an hour to read it and decide whether I wanted to be a part of it. The next day, I had to fly out to Los Angeles. My very first impression of the script was, it was the stupidest thing I had ever read. My wife, who was asking whether I was going to go out and interview for it, I told her, “It’s really well written. It’s very fun. It’s gritty, dark and sardonic. There’s a satiric nature to it.” She was like, “Well, what’s wrong with it? That sounds amazing.” I said, “There’s this animated blue unicorn that flies around.” But that was the part that made me fly out to Los Angeles! It was such an extraordinarily well-written show, and then it had this element and I had to see it for myself. I had to know where it was going to go. That is the entire reason I wanted to do this.
I don’t live in New York or Los Angeles. I live in Washington, D.C., so every time I go to take a job I have to leave my family. I promised my wife that I would never do anything that was derivative ever again, and this is the furthest thing from derivative you can possibly imagine. Even between episodes one and two, the show evolves even between those two. Then, as the series takes off in hour three, the season takes a much more dramatic, much more character-driven turn in it. It is one of these shows that straddles every single genre across the spectrum. None of it should work, and, yet, for reasons that elude me, and continue to elude me as I watch more and more cuts of the finale, it all ends up working.