Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Sleepy Hollow

Greetings, fellow tv-nerds! It's that time of year again....the start of the Fall tv season! It's like Christmas for those of us who love television, with lots of new new shiny packages just waiting to be unwrapped. You never know what might be inside; it could be good, it could be bad....but either way, here at the blog we try to make it fun.

Last night was the first big premiere of the season with Sleepy Hollow over on FOX. All day long I have been getting messages from people asking me what I think....so here goes.
Surprise! I liked it!

I'd characterize it as a fun retelling of Washington Irving's, The Legend of Sleepy Hollow. Was it perfect? No--in fact some parts were downright silly. But none of the faults were so glaring as to really distract from the elements I enjoyed.

Before we get into specifics, here's the premise (from Wikipedia since work won't let me access the FOX website from my computer, stupid government firewall):
After Ichabod Crane "dies" during a mission for General George Washington in 1781, he awakens in 2013 Sleepy Hollow, New York. But so does the Headless Horseman, whose head Ichabod lopped off before his perceived death. The horseman begins his nightly killing spree, and Ichabod must partner with newly appointed Sheriff Abbie Mills.
So far, there is a lot of stuff I like here. A tall, dark, handsome and British lead character, magic, ghosts, witches, spooky New England settings, and flashbacks to Revolutionary war times which I always find interesting. Waistcoats and corsets for everyone! FOX was wise to premiere the show early (since it hauled in some great ratings), but it really felt like a perfect companion piece for Halloween.

Of course, that doesn't mean there isn't room for improvement. One thing I think the pilot got wrong was giving the audience too much information regarding the mythology right off the bat. After the first hour, we know a lot about the specifics of why Ichabod and the Horseman are linked and even a lot of the how. Basic plot spoiler alert: turns out the Horseman is actually one of the Four Horseman of the Apocalypse (and maybe actual Death himself) and of course Ichabod and Sheriff Abbie now have to prevent the world from ending by deciphering portions of prophecy in the Bible's Book of Revelation and fighting against the Horseman and other demons.*

Oh, and there are warring covens of witches (one light, one dark) who are also fighting against each other to prevent or cause the apocalypse. This means, of course, that there will be lots more supernatural monsters making an appearance in future episodes. I understand that the creators want to set up the show as a series (with a reason for different bad guys and creatures to show up each week), but throwing so much information at us in the first hour 1) takes away a lot of the sense of mystery and 2) makes it all seem really silly. Especially when one character tells another, "The answers are in Washington's Bible!!!"

But despite it all, the show worked for me....mostly due to the performance of Ichabod, played by Tom Mison. I don't remember seeing this guy before (except in the British miniseries Lost in Austen where he looks completely different), but in Sleepy Hollow he is really great. He has the gravitas to pull off what could be a ridiculous character in ridiculous situations, but he manages to bring just enough humor to the role to make him feel like a real fish out of water. I believe that he has been asleep for 250 years and has been thrown into a strange and alien world full of witches and demons. I'm not so impressed with the acting of the
Nicole Beharie (who plays Sheriff Abbie), but I appreciate the multi-ethnic casting which also includes Orlando Jones--Make 7Up Yours!

So, in a nutshell, Sleepy Hollow at times goes a bit too far down the silly rabbit hole, but it also has some genuine chills and a sense of creepy fun. I'm interested to see what happens next, and really that's what you're looking for from a pilot. Give it a try! The pilot is available on the FOX website and on On Demand.

Sleepy Hollow airs Monday evenings at 9:00pm EST on FOX.


 * Am I the only who gets really ticked off when tv shows and movies refer to the Books of Revalations? It's singular people (Revelation), NOT PLURAL. Not that I am a biblical scholar or anything (hahahaha), but COME ON. You're being sloppy.

1 comment:

Arsenic Pie said...

I liked it! It definitely isn't perfect and it needs to grow a lot, but it had a bit of a Buffy vibe and Ichabod's story reminded me of Aidan's plotline on (U.S.) Being Human. I also appreciated the diverse casting. Whoulda thunk that Fox would be the to get a clue?

Survey Says: DVR-worthy.