The classic tale of Ichabod Crane and the headless horseman is given an apocalyptic make over in Fox’s latest supernatural thriller. Sleepy Hollow is the story you know and love with an apocalyptic twist. It’s also probably the most fun you will have watching television this season.
The pilot begins in the American Revolutionary War, Ichabod Crane beheads a mysteriously powerful horseman but not before being wounded himself. Ichabod passes out and when he wakes up the war is over, and has been for some time; it’s 2013. Ichabod meets Lieutenant Abbie Mills, whose partner was killed by a headless horseman that just happened to wake up at the same time as Ichabod. Abbie and Ichabod team up to figure out what’s going on only to discover that the headless soldier is actually one of the four horsemen of the apocalypse and if he recovers his head he will kick start the apocalypse.
There’s no escaping the fact Sleepy Hollow is a little bit ridiculous but that’s part of its charm. The gothic genre is at it’s best when it embraces the kitsch side and runs with it and Sleepy Hollow seems be doing just that. There’s a headless horseman roaming the streets of a seemingly normal contemporary town, it’s hard to take that seriously. Yet somehow Sleepy Hollow drags you into the absurdity and soon enough devil-like horned creatures seem perfectly reasonable.
The pilot suffers the same pitfalls as most sci-fi/fantasy pilots, in that it’s fairly heavy on exposition. There are a lot of moments where people stand around explaining information that will probably make more sense later on. But in-between the bouts of exposition we get a sense of the kind of show Sleepy Hollow could be. The effects are not brilliant but that just adds to the classic horror feel that this show exudes. While the pilot had a number of large scale fight sequences, it was during the smaller moments that Sleepy Hollow really shines.
Abbie Mills is a fantastic female lead (not to mention a woman of colour) and the interactions between her and Ichabod are incredibly entertaining. The chemistry between co-stars Nicole Beharie and Tom Mason is magical. Much of the enjoyment to be found in the pilot comes from the relationship between Abbie and Ichabod and it will be the development of this relationship that makes or breaks this show. That and watching Ichabod attempt to negotiate the intricacies of the modern world makes for enjoyable television.
The story is familiar enough to be recognizable but there are enough differences to make it entertaining. Taking the simple story about a small town and adding an apocalyptic threat should be enough to sustain the story past one season. And the threat of an unknown enemy – anyone could be evil – makes this show incredible suspenseful.
Honestly, I wasn’t completely sold by the pilot but there is enough there to keep me watching. I really want this show to be amazing and the pilot gave me hope that it can be. Let’s hope it lives up to it’s potential before Fox cancels it.
Review by Yvonne Popplewell
More of Yvonne’s work can be found at her blog.