The Happenings, Watch - TV review


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The Independent Culture

Two men with zero interest in improving the community mood are Barry and Stuart, the presenters of Watch's new series The Happenings. Each week, this Ant and Dec of the paranormal will subject a different small town to a large-scale illusion. This week it was the turn of Stamford, Lincolnshire, where they hoped to stage an alien invasion.

That sounds impressively epic, but last night's episode was rather a series of small-scale pranks, strung together with no sense of a cumulative effect. One of these involved Barry posing as a cab driver, picking up four young women from a pub at 9.50pm and then convincing them that they'd blacked out, "lost" several hours and it was now 4.30am.

This was supposed to replicate a Close Encounters-style alien abduction, but if you were unfamiliar with the movie, you might just as easily assume you'd lost your mind. Or been drugged by a dodgy cabbie. Either way, those girls weren't enjoying themselves, they looked terrified.

At the programme's close there was no attempt to explain how the tricks worked, so if the goal was to explore the phenomenon of a mass delusion, we were none the wiser. It turns out there's an art to deceiving with good grace. Most of The Happenings just felt mean-spirited.