See a first look at Christopher Meloni in the series
Credit: Syfy

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In SYFY’s adaptation of writer Grant Morrison and artist Darick Robertson’s 2013 graphic novel Happy!, Christopher Meloni plays cop-turned-hitman Nick Sax, who awakens after a heart attack with a new pal named Happy. A very special new pal.

“One night, a hit goes wrong, and Nick wakes up with a tiny blue horse on his chest,” says Morrison, an executive producer on the show. “The horse announces that he’s a little girl’s imaginary friend, and only Nick Sax can save her, because he’s the only other person who can see the imaginary friend, whose name is Happy — Happy the Horse. So, that’s our basic high concept. It’s about the most cynical man on earth being teamed up with a ridiculously upbeat, optimistic little cartoon creature. It’s also set around Christmas. Part of our idea was to do a modern update of things like Scrooge or It’s a Wonderful Life. It’s like A Christmas Carol meets Pulp Fiction, let’s say.”

Sounds good to us, especially given that the pilot is directed and co-written by Brian Taylor, co-director of the entertainingly berserk Crank movies. But we have a question: What is it with Meloni and imaginary friends? After all, in the film Wet Hot American Summer, his character had a memorable relationship with a talking can of vegetables. “I never thought of that,” laughs the actor. “Maybe no one wants to work with me!”

Meloni, Morrison, Brian Taylor, and showrunner Patrick MacManus will all be attending the Happy! panel at this year’s Comic-Con International at San Diego’s waterfront convention center. The panel takes place in Room 6BCF, July 22, at 2:45 p.m. PT and will be moderated by EW’s own Tim Leong.

Happy! premieres on SYFY this fall. See an exclusive image of Meloni on the show above.