In the age of Peak TV, you can do a lot worse that add a slug of watered down Fight Club and Game of Thrones to your holiday viewing mix. With a bellyful of that, December 6 brings the premieres of both Happy! on Syfy and Knightfall on History. You could call Wednesday the “Night of the Derivatives,” or you could settle in for two potentially well-timed homages that have identified a void or two on the small screen are have leaped in to fill them, as I say in my video review above.
Yes, there is a lot of the 1999-helmed David Fincher flick Fight Club in the whacked-out semi-animated, eight-episode Happy! starring Christopher Meloni and Patton Oswalt — and sometimes more than enough tiresome adolescent cynicism. However, the adaptation of Grant Morrison and Darick Robertson’s 2012 comic miniseries from the team that brought us the distinctly jacked-up Crank movies is still a surprisingly compelling rendition.
As far away from Meloni’s former straight-laced home on Law & Order: SVU as you can get and still stay in the five boroughs, Happy! is a tale of an assassination-for-hire ex-cop, a Bad Santa-kidnapped young girl and a poker-playing tiny-winged blue unicorn (that would be where Oswalt comes in). It is also a breath of fresh, laughing gas air in what has been a pretty sterile and ponderous programming environment at Syfy the past few years.
As for History’s Knightfall, which starts with the loss of Jerusalem in 1291 and some parlay with emissaries of the Sultan, the Jeremy Renner co-produced Templar Knights drama is packed with swords, brotherhood, loyalty, some Holy Grail protecting and battle — a lot of battle.
In that sense, with Downton Abbey’s Jim Carter splendidly wrapped in religious and political intrigue as Pope Boniface VIII and nods to Ridley Scott’s Gladiator, Knightfall has more than a few whiffs of GoT, which could give succor to bemoaning fans waiting for the HBO blockbuster to return for its final season in the next year or so.
In fact, once you get past some of the less-than-Biblical or -epic scripts and sometimes silly attempts at modernization, the pretty decent 10-episode Knightfall is a good example of the mid-range offerings of this Peak TV era. What at one time would be called a B-movie, it seeks to punch upward amidst its bloodshed, oaths and prayers.
Click on my dual review of Happy! and Knightfall for more of my opinion on the series. Which one will you be watching Wednesday?