FARGO

"Happy Town" premieres at 8 tonight, but I doubt ABC's newest paranormal small town series will melt many hearts in the Land of 10,000 Lakes.

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"Happy Town" is set in a seemingly quiet locale -- the fictitious town of Haplin, Minn., about an hour outside of the Twin Cities.

Why the creators chose to set the show in Minnesota is the big mystery, especially since it was shot in Port Hope, Ont.

If a town ever sounded like a setting for a twisted mystery, or at least a soap opera, centered on a hospital, a cop and a prominent family all with something to hide, it is Port Hope.

But Happy Town? If they don't use the lesser Replacements tune of the same name I will be bitterly disappointed.

Actually, I already am. After watching the 15-minute intro online, it looks like the only reason the show is set in Minnesota is to land some kind of winter wear deal with Target. Honestly, I haven't seen that many shearling coats since McCloud retired.

Indeed, all the inhabitants of Haplin, which locals call Happy Town, appear idyllic to the new girl in town, who arrives on a train carrying only a guitar case and the desire to open a candle shop.

She'll be a great neighbor for the British ex-pat who runs the film memorabilia shop and seems to have a way with the widows at the strict boarding house where they all live.

What sounds like a sitcom turns a dark corner when it's revealed the town is trying to move on after the disappearances of seven people at the hands of The Magic Man. Confused? Luckily, there's a deputy who delivers only exposition dialogue:

"Here we are, in the cradle of the heartland. Daddy is the son of a sheriff in a town with no crime, mommy has an important job at the bread factory, and daughter Emma is the brightest bulb in the first-grade class."

What goes unsaid is that while daddy grows emotionally distant shouldering the load of the mysteries, mommy develops feelings for another man and a certain first-grader may be next on the Magic Man's list. Of course, I'm just guessing, but I'd bet a pair of Uggs on it.

The show opens as Haplin residents ready for the annual spring Thaw Fest. But a shadow soon sets on the town as a man is discovered in his ice house with a railroad spike driven through his head.

If you make it through the first 15 minutes of "Happy Town," you'll probably feel the same.

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