Television: Sleepy Hollow

I keep a skull (not real, a Hamlet prop) in my office. But from here on out, he should maybe make trips to the television room on Monday nights to watch Sleepy Hollow. Cuz let's be real: skulls are underrepresented in media, but Sleepy Hollow is now giving them the attention they deserve.

Don't call him "Yorick." His name is Benny.
Seriously, though, it's difficult to decide how seriously to take this update on Washington Irving's famous tale. Parts Grimm, Once Upon a Time, and Highlander (hello, flashbacks and beheadings) . . . It's patently designed for today's epic fantasy audience. But the story has been warped to the point that it is almost nonsensical.

Let's see if I can get it straight: Ichabod Crane was a soldier in the Revolutionary War. He was instructed by General Washington to look for a man with a brand on his hand—the brand looks like "a bow" as per the people in the program, but mostly looks a bit like the sign for Sagittarius, and so as a member of that sign I'm a tad offended. Anyway, when shooting said offender failed to kill him, Crane cut off the man's head . . . But not before the man used his broad axe to slice a good hunk of Crane's chest open.

Crane is taken to triage where his wife Katrina worked as a nurse. But really, she was a witch, a member of a secret coven dedicated to stopping the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse . . . Whatever. The end result is that Crane wakes up in modern day Sleepy Hollow, having been roused from his long sleep by the resurgence of the Headless Horseman. (Their blood had mingled on the battlefield, thus tying them together for eternity.)

Cue any number of cliché fish-out-of-water moments: Crane amazed by power windows and locks in cars, and by cars in general, and Starbucks . . . Still, what could be taken to the nth degree is handled fairly well here. There was minimal eye rolling on my part.

The modern-day setup is something like: police officer Abbie Mills is all set to go off to Quantico in a few days. (This is evidently a variation of someone being ready to retire, like Murtaugh in Lethal Weapon. In this case retirement doesn't work as an excuse because Abbie is too young.) But on a call to a local farm, Abbie and the sheriff encounter the Headless Horseman. (Didn't Highlander also do the Horseman thing? Yeah, they did.) He cuts off the sheriff's head. And then Crane is picked up as a suspect cuz he's so fucking weird and obviously a loony, right?

Crane is remanded for psychological evaluation and treatment, seeing as he obviously has delusions about being from Revolutionary times. But Mills feels like Crane might be their best chance at figuring out what is going on. And then she also goes through the dead sheriff's files and finds more about these covens and the Four Horsemen, a string of cases that seem related to them . . . Including the case of her and her sister, who themselves had experienced something strange when they were younger.

Meanwhile, Crane is led by a hawk (Katrina's familiar?) to her grave, where he sees she was burned for being a witch. A dream of her (vision?) informs him that she is not buried there, but the Headless Horseman's skull is. Crane and Abbie go to dig it up, but the Horseman comes calling. Still, they manage to keep their heads and his.

Abbie of course must now decide she will not go to Quantico after all. She will stay in Sleepy Hollow. Because she is part of something bigger—she and Crane are the two witnesses mentioned in Revelation 11 (just for comparison, the title of one of those Highlander episodes: "Revelation 6:8"). The show is now set up for monster-of-the-week plotlines paired with continuation of established mythology.

Sleepy Hollow is plagued by bad CGI (the horse's glowing eyes just one example) and sometimes clunky dialogue. And it is in many ways an obvious cobbling of so many current trends and influences. The mythology is already convoluted, and it's only just getting started. But despite all these flaws, I still found the pilot mildly entertaining. And Tom Mison is not bad to look at for an hour. I'll watch again next week to see if they can pull it off.

. . . And maybe my skull will watch and weigh in with some thoughts of his own.

1 comment:

Christine Rains said...

I wasn't impressed at all. I lost interest and started critiquing stories for my local group this week. Definitely bad CGI and dialogue. I might've enjoyed it more on mute, but yeah, Tom is nice looking. I also watched "Dads" (new sitcom with Seth Green) last night and didn't like it. So two new shows down and two more to go.