New drama ‘Sleepy Hollow’ delivers twists
Published: Thursday, October 3, 2013
Updated: Thursday, October 3, 2013 02:10
“Sleepy Hollow” is a new mystery drama from Fox with dashes of horror, fantasy and comedy all thrown in for good measure. Set in the village of Sleepy Hollow, the show has an intriguing premise: one of the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse, Death, has risen again, and is terrorizing the present-day town’s population with vicious beheadings. After originally losing his head during the American Revolution to Ichabod Crane (Tom Mison), who was killed only to be resurrected centuries later in modern times, the Headless Horseman returns seeking vengeance and revenge on his would-be killer. It is up to strong female lead Abbie Mills (Nicole Beharie) and Crane to uncover secrets and clues hidden within the town that will help them kill the Headless Horseman once and for all.
Lieutenant Abbie Mills is a smart, savvy and serious police officer who doesn’t tolerate any nonsense. A former rule-breaker with a mysterious past, Abbie is reluctant to believe in the supernatural due to her sister’s commitment to a mental institution after similar claims. Her character’s clear, levelheaded outlook contrasts with the fantastical elements of the show, helping to balance the historical with contemporary, the far-fetched with the logical.
Ichabod Crane, the time-traveling soldier, demonstrates determination, tenacity and — most comically — an inability to understand the modern world in which he has awoken. Surprisingly funny, Crane is a man who lived in the late 1700s and the show plays with his antiquated ideas of taxes, the justice system, gender roles and technology. Crane’s understanding of firearms is particularly amusing — his initial interactions with a modern gun are comedic gold. Bitingly sarcastic and caustically witty, his character is a breath of fresh air, injecting humorous asides into tense moments. He and Mills make a good team and complement each other well — as the two leads, their dynamic helps to move the show along.
The show is much darker and horror-filled than one would expect from first glance. With dead bodies graphically coming to life, half-blurred demons appearing in mirrors and people being burned alive, the more dramatic, frightening aspects of the show contrast sharply with the humor that sometimes gives it a campy, over-the-top feel. The special effects are fair — not outstanding, but not cringe-worthy either.
The biggest flaw of “Sleepy Hollow” is pacing — events move entirely too fast to comprehend. Within the first episode, a plot twist occurs, a coveted object is found and the characters meet Crane’s presumed-dead witch wife. The second episode introduces a new supernatural enemy altogether. Although this twisting-turning start made for an entertaining few hours of television, it was not much more than mindless fun. If the show’s haphazard storyline can evolve into a lengthy plot, it has the ability to become an actively engaging show. A slower tempo would benefit the show in the long run, and adding more character development will elevate it to into a must-watch for the season. “Sleepy Hollow” has a lot of potential, and it would be a shame to see it squandered in favor of pushing the story along at breakneck speed.
All in all, the show has likable characters, though it suffers from an awkwardly designed plot. Hopefully, as the episodes progress, the storyline will even out and focus more on the characters’ relationships. Most interesting is the developing friendship between Crane and Mills, promising a give-and-take partnership between equals. The dynamic between the two leads is essential to the show’s success, and the writers would be wise to delve further into their relationship as the season gets further underway.