Disclaimer: If you haven’t seen the pilot episode of FOX’s Sleepy Hollow, proceed at your own risk.
We were a little divided here at WWFTP about FOX’s new-this-season fantasy horror drama, Sleepy Hollow. And by ‘divided,’ I mean BeccaDearie was gung-ho and full of hopeful anticipation; I was less than enthusiastic, convinced the pilot would be full of, well, something; and FSUKerry abstained from an opinion. (Frankly, I was more excited about the cookies I made yesterday afternoon.)
I mean, really? Pretty? Sure. Fun? Possibly. Intelligent? Eh.
After all, Washington Irving wrote The Legend of Sleepy Hollow nearly 200 years ago. It’s been covered in so many variations (Cartoons? Check. Film? Check. Stage musical? Check, weirdly enough.), I was skeptical Roberto Orci and Alex Kurtzman would be able to refresh the premise enough to make it worth my time. I mean, why retread an old graveyard? Isn’t it a bit like beating an undead horse?
I’m sure there’s a Phantom Menace joke in here somewhere, but I’ll leave it up to you.
Aside from some seriously ill-advised attempts at cross-show promotion, I’m big enough to admit I was pleasantly surprised. The trailer had looked pretty slick and stylish, but the premise didn’t exactly raise my hopes much: Turning nebbishy school master Ichabod Crane into a shaggy haired hipster in knickerbockers and waist coat, bringing him forward to the modern day, and pairing him with a ball-busting, sassy lady cop? Talk about a hot mess.
Such well-groomed facial hair for 200 years in a hidden grave.
Yet, Sleepy Hollow proved itself delightfully capable of distancing itself from its predecessors. It’s creepy, dark, gory, stylish and well-paced, but it also shows moments of having real humor. I think BeccaDearie was right about Nicole Beharie and Tom Mison Poor Man’s Noah Wyle having good chemistry.
Apparently, the show already has a fandom name – Sleepy Heads – and these two have a ‘ship name: Ichabbie. (Somehow that won out over Crabbie, which has a bit of a Screwball Comedy feel to it.)
As for the twists – this Ichabod Crane won Katrina Van Tassel’s hand; he was a history professor who was sent to the colonies, but joined the revolutionaries instead; Katrina was a witch, one of two covens based in the village; Abbie Mills’ twin, and their connection to the town’s curse; and the Headless Horseman as the first of the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse – the show may yet screw the pooch. There’s an awful lot of mythology for the show to keep track of, though this story, unlike the one in Fringe (Orci and Kurtzman’s other TV experiment) seems more clearly defined.
In which Peter Bishop imitates Fringe’s audience’s general bemusement with the show’s mythology.
Plus, it’s nice to see a black hat driven by a biblical imperative, rather than a personal grievance. (See: Jason Voorhees in his films, Freddy Krueger in his films, Michael Myers in his films, James Bond in his films, etc.) Granted, a bitterly held vendetta may make for good drama, but an unstoppable supernatural force lends itself to greater complexity and higher stakes – and if the heroes can overcome that force, a more meaningful triumph. (Side note: Don’t know about y’all, but I’ll be breaking out my King James edition so I can review the Book of Revelations.)
My bible isn’t quite as ornate, but it has way more sticky notes. Catholic school education, yeah!
The effects were top-notch, though the soft-focus lens at the beginning of the episode, and during Ichabod’s dream sequences, are a little kitschy but not too distracting. (At least there’s no lens flares, amirite?) And despite John Cho’s untimely demise, I think the horror fantasy genre ensures we may not have seen the last of him.
Selling out your friends and coworkers can create a lot of stress; he might want to see a chiropractor.
However, I do have one concern, which I hope the writers and show runners will find a viable means of addressing: Where is Brom Van Brunt?
Even Tim Burton’s Brom is confused about where he is in this new version.
All images courtesy of EW, Pacey Witters, TheOneWithTheVows, GirlPlaysGame, Viagens na Historia, and PotatoeHuman. No infringement intended.