Most people have an imaginary friend growing up. It’s a one of the ways we express our creativity when we are young. There’s no harm in having one. But what if your imaginary friend could actually do some good? Like, I don’t know, maybe help save your life after you’ve been kidnapped by a creepy dude? That would be some imaginary friend. This is one of the ideas explored in Happy!, a new series debuting tonight on Syfy in the U.S. and tomorrow on Showcase in Canada.

Based on the Image comic written by Grant Morrison and drawn by Darick Robertson, Happy! is the story of Nick Sax, an ex-cop turned hitman who’s sent to kill three brothers of a big crime family. Turns out a fourth one joins the party and Nick takes care of him too, but not before the kid spills his guts. He tells Nick of a password that he’s suppose to give to his Don. Now Nick has priceless information that the mob wants and that is not good news. Meanwhile, a young girl named Hailey is abducted by a creepy Santa at an outdoor Christmas concert. Her only hope at surviving is her imaginary friend, a flying blue horse named Happy! Happy must find someone who can help. The only option is the one other person who can see him: Nick Sax.

When the comic debuted in 2012, it was a balls to the wall action that pulled no punches and focused on the grimy underbelly of man’s darkest desires. However, the book was very funny and had a lasting message of hope and redemption in its conclusion. The first episode of the television adaptation has tapped into all of this. The series is not holding back as far as action and mayhem are concerned. The body count of just one episode is pretty substantial. The humour is bang on and there is an instant likability to the “good guys” in this story. It’s a testament to the creative team for staying true to the source material while still making the piece their own, giving a quick and proper set up to the action of the comic series.

The opening sequence of the first episode is not from the comic but would’ve fit in nicely if it had been. As Nick contemplate suicide in a seedy bathroom of an undesirable bar, he daydreams of dancing girls and disco music as his brains actively flow around the room. There’s an odd beauty to it. It’s fun, irreverent and let’s the viewer know everything they need to about Nick’s character. It’s a fearless and ballsy introduction to an intriguing protagonist.

The level of sincerity of this piece is balanced perfectly by the performances of Christopher Meloni and Patton Oswalt. Meloni is hilarious, sympathetic and bad-ass all at once. His presence in each scene makes it easy for the viewer to buy into the crazy tomfoolery that abounds. He makes the talking flying horse seem almost real. That’s pretty impressive since the character is imaginary to begin with. Patton Oswalt is the perfect choice as the voice of Happy! His delivery is spot on and embodies the fantastic nature of the CG character that flits and jumps all over the screen. These two make for an entertaining duo.

If you’re looking for a holiday treat that’s a bit more salty than that other offerings we get this time of year, I strongly suggest you check out Happy! Like the comic series before it, this show is not for children. But it’s perfect for the twisted humour of anyone looking for some crazy fun with a bit of heart. Happy! debuts tonight on Syfy and tomorrow night on Showcase. If you’d like more backstory on the comic that inspired the show, be sure to listen to the latest episode of Back Issue Bloodbath. It’s good times.

If you’re gonna geek out, GEEK HARD!


HAPPY! — “Pilot” Episode 101 — Pictured: Christopher Meloni as Nick Sax — (Photo by: Peter Kramer/Syfy)