Haplin, Minn., where people are friendly, the water and air are pure, houses are lovely, and life is just dandy. Oh, except for that pesky problem about folks disappearing.
This small town is the setting for ABC's drama "Happy Town," premiering Wednesday, April 28.
It's the sort of show best watched weekly or you miss too much. Those who work in television and those posing as insiders, tend to love comparisons about shows. Along those lines, expect to hear that this is the latest nod to "Twin Peaks" or it's like "The Brotherhood of Poland, New Hampshire."
No, "Happy Town," very much has its own vibe.
"It's like nothing I have ever done before," says Geoff Stults ("October Road"), who stars as Tommy Conroy. "And it's like nothing you have seen on TV. It's about a small town that seems perfect, and underneath that perception is a scary, seedy underbelly of things that go wrong, and it makes you question your relationships. It's dark and scary and going to keep you engaged on television."
He plays the reluctant hero. His father, Griffin Conroy (M.C. Gainey), the longtime sheriff, goes nuts; not the usual midlife crisis of growing a goatee, and buying a snazzy sports car, but he chops off his hand. He calls for a mysterious woman, Chloe.
Tommy is deputized to become sheriff, whether he wants to or not; he doesn't.
In the pilot, Henley (Lauren German, "Hostel: Part II") comes to town. She says she's moving here to sell scented candles because her late mother loved vacationing in Haplin. If her mom were a regular visitor, why doesn't anyone remember her?
"Her mom was here, and no one is saying, 'Who is your mom?' " German says. "Somebody would have known her. Even in big, big cities, people do that. I just chalked it up to maybe that would be a big story line at one point."
" 'Happy Town' is a lot of things," German says. "It is a mystery and has a bit of supernatural elements, but it is about the setting. It takes place in a bucolic sort of town, and it's about rural life in this kind of beautiful little town where just something seems off. The people are friendly, and everybody knows each other, but there's something amiss. You find out this town Haplin has a dark hidden past, and it seems as if everybody has tried to forget about the past and move on because everything has been fine for a while."
The biggest mystery is what happened to those who went missing. Are they dead? Have they been abducted by the same person, whom some refer to as the Magic Man?
"The mystery is so deep and it runs to the very fabric the town runs to," Stults says. "You know what they say about the Magic Man? He passed you on the street today."