When I first saw the trailer for Sleepy Hollow all those months ago, my first reaction was that this was a really, really, really weird concept for a television show. How did this thing even get pitched? “Ichabod Crane… in the 21st century! Watch as he hunts down the Headless Horseman… in the 21st century! Look as he makes a Starbucks-on-every-corner joke… in the 21st century!”
I wasn’t sure if the show’s oddness was going to work for or against it, but regardless I found myself enjoying what I was seeing in the trailer – cheesy voice over and all. I’m pleased to say that that sentiment has carried over to the full pilot of Sleepy Hollow as well.
Abbie Mills (Nicole Beharie) is a small-town cop aiming for promotion to the FBI when she and the town’s sheriff stumble upon a decades buried enmity between the somehow resurrected Ichabod Crane (Tom Mison) and the seemingly immortal Headless Horseman, who just so happens to also be one of the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse. The sheriff ends up tragically decapitated by Mr. Headless, and the crime is pinned on Crane, who was conveniently found wandering about being frightened of all the weird shiny machines zooming around him.
Crane is cleared of any wrongdoing when another headless body turns up while he’s busy doing other things (because there can only be one person going around chopping heads off at any given time, naturally). Though his story about being a soldier in General George Washington’s army in 1781 is dismissed by most everyone as the ravings of a madman, Abbie reluctantly goes along with Crane, hoping he’ll lead her to the true killer.
Thus begins the modern-day tale of The Legend Sleepy Hollow.
The show gets the setting and atmosphere just right; scenes with the Horseman are bathed in the right amount of eerie lights and fog, and locations around the village have that quiet, friendly small town vibe to it in a way that makes me feel like I actually might want to live there (you know, if there wasn’t an immortal serial killer roaming around).
There are a few notable directing choices that I really enjoyed, such as one scene where the camera takes the point-of-view of a recently decapitated head as it falls to the ground and “watches” the Horseman amble away.
Also, between Tom Mison, Nicole Beharie, and John Cho (who sadly enough is not a series regular) Sleepy Hollow has some pretty sweet eye candy. (Being the deeply shallow person that I am, this is scoring major points with me.)
The show doesn’t seem to be taking itself too seriously, which I like, and a lot of the humor is tied to Crane’s disconnect with the new world around him, which surprisingly enough I really like. It might get old eventually – there are only so many “Ichabod Crane doesn’t know what a camera is!” jokes one can take, after all – but for now it’s something I’m enjoying. Mison’s dry delivery of his lines really sells the funny to me.
The chemistry between show leads Mison and Beharie is also there in spades. The two play off each other well, and their first true scene together is all kinds of hilarity, and as believable as a scene involving a time-jumping literature character can get. Subsequent scenes delve more into the emotional side of things as they both begin to open up to one another. Hopefully this will be a working relationship that will blossom well over time, because I can really see myself getting into these two’s friendship (or maybe more? Muahaha.)
For a pilot, there’s not much I didn’t like about Sleepy Hollow. It suffers from the usual downfalls of a first episode – too much exposition, overly convenient clue discovery, characters who might be a little bit too trusting – but overall it’s not so bad that it drags down the episode’s quality. There was more than enough drama and action to keep my interest, and the last few seconds of the episode were markedly unnerving.
I’m not entirely sold on this show yet, but it was a fun enough 50 minutes that I’ll definitely be tuning in for another few episodes, just to see how this story grows.
You can watch the series trailer below: