Bringing the grimy, surreal world of Happy!, Grant Morrison and Darick Robertson's graphic novel about a corrupt cop making his way through a filthy, violent Christmas tale, might have seemed borderline impossible to imagine in live-action not long ago -- but changes to the TV landscape have made the Syfy almost an obvious choice for a small-screen drama.
Morrison, who serves as an executive producer on the show and who has been involved in every step of the series' development, told ComicBook.com during a recent interview that while Syfy and the creative folks on the TV side of Happy! were accommodating and easy to work with, there were still changes that needed to be made to the series...not to rein in its insanity, but rather to expand the universe in case of future installments.
“We’re living in an age where we just had Twin Peaks and we have American Horror Story and Preacher,” Morrison said. “There are so many TV shows now that people are eager to such the boundaries because they want an original idea. I think that suits my sensibilities immensely.”
The veteran writer said that while his original idea for a TV series based on The Filth failed to go forward in the 2000s in spite of moderation to the source material, that sort of conversation is much more rare in the current TV climate.
“I don’t think there’s anything unfilmable,” Morrison said. “I’ve got takes on everything I’ve ever done, so if Happy! does really well and the phone starts ringing, I’ve got them all. I don’t believe in the current climate that anything can’t be done. Every night I turn on my TV and I see things I’ve never seen before.”
The difficulty, then, was juggling the needs of the story -- which had a very definitive beginning, middle, and end, and which has a small but fiercely affectionate fan base -- with the needs of a TV show, which wants to essentially leave the door open to go on indefinitely.
“If you look at the first episode, the pilot I think is very close to the first issue of the comic,” Morrison told Comicbook.com. “But then, because we had eight episodes, I think we really had to expand out that world and build out mythology and add a whole buch of new characters. That’s what made it interesting; it’s not so much a one-to-one correspondence, but it managed to capture the mood and the energy and the feel of the comic. Especially in the first couple of episodes, there’s a lot of dark humor and a lot of violence and filthy energy; it’s very punk rock. As we go on, there are other elements that come in. It’s a Christmas story, so we got a bit of sentimentality and there’s performances in there that will make you cry. I think what we set out to do was really touch on a wide range of emotional stuff, which is quite different from the comic. That’s what made the two of them feel like different beasts even though they share a lot of the same points.”
Happy! airs on Wednesday nights at 10 p.m. ET/PT on Syfy.