FOX’s new jab at the ever popular horror/fantasy TV, Sleepy Hollow, is the first of my giant list of fall television shows and while I’m not in love with it I am curious to venture further into the new legend. Briefly we get a look at Ichabod Crane in his original life, no more a dopey school teacher but rather a handsome soldier in George Washington’s army during the Revolutionary War. It seems mister Crane had a change of heart and took to spying against Her Majesty’s (or I guess His Majesty’s at the time) Royal Army. During this fight we get to meet our not-so-headless horseman who comes bounding in on his white steed wearing a very Hannibal Lecter-like mask. After a brief fight, Ichabod slices the horseman’s head off but not before he is badly injured himself. Fast forward 250 years and Ichabod is awakening from the world’s longest nap in an eerie cave. As he stumbles out he meets his new side kick, Abbie, who has a pretty fantastical secret of her own. Together the two unlikely partners set forth to find out why the Horseman has returned to Sleepy Hollow while discovering more people in town might know what is going on than they thought. Minor spoilers beyond this point, tread lightly!
Pilot episodes are always tricky because we don’t have anything to really go on yet. They set up the characters, tone, and pacing all while having to keep the viewer interested enough to validate more episodes. So was this first episode of Sleepy Hollow absolutely awesome and fresh? No, not really. Actually it was pretty cliche and hokey in some parts but it did add some interesting new lore to the legend. We are all familiar with Sleepy Hollow in some way, be it the cartoon or more recently Tim Burton’s adaptation. Each of these brought a specific personality to Crane and this new series seems to be following in those same footsteps. Crane, played by Tom Mison, is now a ruggedly handsome professor turned soldier; he is clever and sure of himself but also still inquisitive and naive. His counter part Abbie Mills, played by Nicole Beharie, is a woman working in a boy’s club who grapples with her own demons as well as trying to prove she isn’t a helpless girl. Both Mison and Beharie do really well at portraying these characters and their chemistry works well on screen. I assume at some point there will be a love story, which would somewhat degrade the relationship between Crane and Mills but I’ll keep my fingers crossed that doesn’t happen.
Overall I felt the pilot episode of Sleepy Hollow did a pretty decent job at setting up the rest of the story. I am interested in seeing how they portray the Headless Horseman as Death (aka a horseman of the apocalypse) and I really would like to see the other three horseman appear as well. From the preview they showed at the end it looks like there will be a lot more creatures and magical beings arriving at Sleepy Hollow including two coven’s of witches, one good one evil. So if you are looking for a Halloween costume I guess witches are in this year. I haven’t found anything that really bothers me yet about the show though I do anticipate many references and technology jokes at Ichabod’s expense a long with a lot of “losing your head” puns.
Sleepy Hollow is a VAST improvement from FOX’s other attempt at “horror” with The Following and I hope it continues to entertain me. It’s not anything groundbreaking but it does seem to have a solid story to pursue with a great new perspective on Ichabod and his town. I’ll definately be tuning in next week to see what becomes of our hero now that the police force is, mostly, believing him.
Although, I do prefer my Headless Horseman’s to be more like this….
Sleepy Hollow “Pilot”: C+
Sleepy Hollow, “Pilot” aired on FOX on September 16th, 2013 at 9/8c.
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