I was planning on doing this review a while ago (seeing as my only review of this show is a rather negative one). I wanted to lend my voice to telling what made “Sleepy Hollow” (season one), so great. A show from the get go, I thought to myself how in the world are they going to sustain a multiple seasons worth of episodes (let alone just one) based off of the short story by Washington Irving? The answer to that is simple, the creators of the show break away from the source material, only borrowing bits and pieces, to create their own original concept. This first season of “Sleepy Hollow” surprises and shocks with a wonderfully creative concept with memorable characters and a sheer sense of fun. It’s one of the most enjoyable seasons currently on TV even with its own brand of stupidity.
During the American Revolution a solider named Ichabod Crane is killed on the battlefield by a Hessian solider but not before slicing the soldier’s head off taking them both to the grave. Crane later awakens from his deathly slumber to the unfamiliar world of modern day America. Out of his element in this new world, he meets a young police detective named Abbie Mills. Abbie craves for some real action in the world instead of boring small town, Sleepy Hollow. Although with Crane’s awakening so too does the Hessian solider that killed him on the battle field as he rides off on his trusted horse and starts to reek havoc on the town. Forced to believe Crane’s story about being a revolutionary war solider, the two team together to combat the headless horseman. The horseman is revealed to be an agent working for a demonic being that hopes to bring about the end of days as prophesized in the book of revelations.
If you never read or heard the original short story I promise you, this is nothing like it at all. The headless horseman is not a horseman of the apocalypse (as it’s later revealed) nor does it have anything to do with the book of revelations, or a dead revolutionary war solider being taken out of his time period and put into the modern one (not to mention the character was scared of everything and wasn’t a brave patriot). If you want a closer version to the original source material then Tim Burton’s “Sleepy Hollow” is better suited (although that takes a lot of liberties too). This does have the name “Sleepy Hollow” but it is anything but that. This goes to show that taking major liberties with source material, can provide for some great entertainment.
The new storyline for me was completely out of left field but I fell in love with it instantly. My only fear is this would turn into a monster of the week type of show without a continuing serialized storyline. In some ways it is a monster of the week type show but the monster of the week usually connects back to the over arching storyline. If it doesn’t, then it’s for important character development. The monsters serve the characters and stories instead of the characters serving the monsters (something Fox’s other adaptation “Gotham” can’t seem to understand).
The writers of the show connect a lot of American Revolutionary War history into this which for someone that enjoys history (like myself), I loved seeing. It was always fun to see history bent around and retold for the purposes of the fictional narrative. For instance we always were taught the Boson tea party was a “protest” on the Tea Act of 1773 but in the show they claim that was just a cover for Ichabod to raid a British target for George Washington to fight the war against agents of the demonic demon named Moloch. When it’s done effectively, like in this show, those types of twists are always fun.
This show’s concept in many ways could have easily backfired on them. A headless horseman in a modern context wielding a machine gun could come off as overly cheesy or just plain stupid. While there are many stupid moments in this show and times where you will want to roll your eyes over the sheer stupidity but here the show just seems to take it seriously. I don’t mean that phase like the show is a serious drama but more so all the characters play the material straight. The series gets wrapped up in its own bull that it invites you to join in on all the mayhem and fun that’s ensuing. If you give yourself over to the bull shit (for lack of a better phase) then you’ll be glad you did.
Playing the role of Ichabod Crane is Tom Mison. A relative unknown, Mison seeps into the role of Ichabod. A proper mannered man whose values are of a different time, Ichabod is one of the best characters on TV right now. It’s not because of his intricate nature like a Walter White but because of how damn entertaining and fun he is. His interactions with modern society and his reactions to our way of life make for many funny moments but he never becomes the bumbling comic relief either. He is a man who handle himself and is eager to take up adventure.
Playing Ichabod’s new partner, Abbie Mills, is “42” actress Nicole Beharie. Tough, serious and gets the job done, Beharie has more than enough chemistry with her co-star (which leads to a fun back and forth relationship) and is a nice contrast to Ichabod’s character. Beharie does a very good job in the show that unfortunately gets a little overshadowed by Mision as Ichabod. However I would argue that (as great as Mison is) Ichabod doesn’t work as well as a character without having Abbie to bounce off of, which is all to Beharie’s credit.
This first simple 13 episode season was fun in every sense of the word. This had an enjoyable and creative plot, memorable characters, and a very good production value. The co-stars (that I didn’t mention above) are very good as well (Orlando Jones. Katia Winter, Lyndie Greenwood, and John Noble). The finale leaves you craving more and provides a twist that you (more than likely) didn’t see coming. This show may have its moments of stupidity but it gets easy to overlook them amongst all the fun you’ll be having.