This article will contain spoilers for both the comic book and TV pilot of Happy.
When Bleeding Cool Rumormonger-in-Chief Rich Johnston asked us to review a screenplay for a site-wide initiative today, we was hesitant. What good are we at reviews, anyway? When Johnston revealed that we would be reviewing the screenplay for Happy, the television adaptation of Grant Morrison and Darick Robertson’s tale of an ex-cop turned hitman who is led on a mission to rescue a little girl from a ring of sick pedophiles by a talking, flying blue cartoon horse, we were absolutely terrified. How would Morrison, a legendary practitioner of magick and all around weirdo, take to finding out we were planning to spoil his upcoming TV show? And find out he would, as amongst the usual boilerplate legal jargon, the screenplay PDF itself came with a warning that a magickal curse would alert Morrison, who co-wrote the adaptation himself with Brian Taylor, if a tabloid comic book website tried to do just that. Being the loyal Bleeding Cool employee that we are, we decided to press on and do our journalistic duty in reading and spoiling this script anyway, and though we were attacked near-constantly by Morrison’s terrifying psychic scream while reading the script, we powered through so we could bring our account to you, the reader.
In adapting a four issue comic book to an ongoing TV series, it’s obvious that some changes need to be made to drag out the story. Some notable ones include a larger role for Hailey’s mother, and the addition of a children’s TV show called The Sonny Shine Show that plays a role in multiple scenes. The opening, which takes place with Amanda and Hailey at a live taping of the show, went on so long that we were beginning to worry the show would veer too far from the comics, but we were soon treated, more or less, to this scene in all its profane glory:
And this one as well:
Another notable plot change is that the password given to Nick Sax by Mikey Fratelli is not to a mysterious bank account, but to a digital file with information on organized crime activities. We’re introduced to the mysterious Mister Blue’s wife and kid, albeit only briefly.
Happy is, if such a thing as possible for a winged cartoon horse, sillier than in the comic, and not necessarily in a good way. Morrison and Robertson manage to portray layers of seriousness and purpose behind the character’s cheer and optimism, but in this script, Happy is like a manic Robin Williams character on steroids. Instead of providing tactical support to Nick while he beats up bad guys, Happy encourages him with comments like “BAM! POW! SLAMMO! Go get ‘em Nick! Woo HOO!” He takes on various cartoon personas, such as splitting into two Happy’s at one point and playing on the angel/devil on the shoulder gag, or becoming a drill sergeant and barking orders at Nick. Whether or not this can be pulled off without causing great irritation to the viewer will largely rely on the talents of the voice actor and the quality of the animation that brings Happy to life.
Beyond that, the story moves along much as it does in the comic, with lots of extra exposition-heavy dialog (sometimes too much) added in to pad things out. The major beats of the story still more or less happen, up until Nick escapes the hospital, which takes us just a few pages into the second of four issues. Then things take a drastic departure from the comic. For one thing, it’s revealed that Hailey is Nick’s daughter here, which is much earlier than when we learn it right before the comic’s final act. How will some of the following scenes in the comic play out, considering they’re based on Nick running away to save his own skin until he learns about his relationship to Hailey. Or will those scenes play out at all?
And the final scene shows Hailey’s mother, Amanda, receive what appears to be a ransom note. Does this signal that the show will eschew the sick pedophilia ring plot for a more sanitized kidnapping one? The figurative credits roll at that point, so we’ll have to wait and see. Hopefully, the show manages to stay true to the heart of the story, even if certain changes are necessary for the format. With Grant Morrison on board, and Christopher Meloni in the lead role, our hopes remain quite high.
The show is set to air on the Syfy network, and though we don’t have a premiere date, we do know it’s entered production.
And now, we’re going to go take an Advil and go lie down for a bit. Psychic assaults from comic book writing wizards give us a terrible migraine.