Sleepy Hollow Season 1 Eps 1-3 (TV Show Review)

As a rule, I typically don’t watch shows with a supernatural bent to them. They don’t interest me all that much and my preferences are very particular within the genre. Buffy, Angel, Charmed, True Blood, Vampire Diaries, these are the ones I’ve watched and liked, except for Vampire Diaries which just bored me so much that I stopped mid-season. Vampires are good, if done right. Witches are good, if done right. But generally, I don’t watch them since I enjoy science fiction/fantasy shows much more, stuff like , Stargate, Smallville, Andromeda, Star Trek, Defiance, Game of Thrones, etc.

Recently I started watching Sleepy Hollow on recommendation from a couple of friends on Twitter and because of the overall positive buzz that the show was getting. It also helped that I really liked the trailer for the show, which promised a very interesting take on Washington Irving’s The Legend of Sleepy Hollow. The Headless Horseman urban myth/folk-tale/legend is a really interesting premise and I’ve seen numerous adaptations of it over the years. Among all of them, Fox’s adaptation stands out as the best, across the three episodes that I’ve seen so far.

Sleepy Hollow Logo 0001The first episode of the show was absolutely amazing. It starts off with a battle from the Revolutionary War and introduces us to both the Headless Horseman and to one of the protagonists, Ichabod Crane, a former Oxford Professor who is on the side of the Patriots during the war. We see a rather tense action scene between the two of them before Ichabod ends up beheading the mercenary. But Ichabod is injured as well and soon after the screen goes black as he loses consciousness, we see him being… resurrected, and find out that it is now the year 2013. Ichabod Crane is now an unintentional time traveller.

From there, we meet our second protagonist, Abby Mills, a lieutenant in the Sleepy Hollow Sheriff’s Department. She is going off to Quantico soon, leaving behind her life in Sleepy Hollow and her mentor, Sheriff John Corbin gives her a peptalk while they have dinner. From there, we quickly see how everything goes downhill as they respond to a shooting at an out-of-the-way farm and come up against the Horseman.

All of this leads up to Abby eventually teaming up with Ichabod to stop the Horseman from getting what he wants. He is none other than Death, one of the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse and should he succeed in his plans, the world is going to end and his three other brothers will range across the Earth. That’s the long and short of the premise for the show. Ichabod is a character unknowingly steeped in supernatural traditions and possesses the expertise that the often-cynical Abby needs to keep Sleepy Hollow safe and together, they make for a really interesting pair.

The pilot is full of excellent story twists and the pacing is perfect. The two characters shine throughout the episode, thanks in no small part to the wonderful acting by Tom Mison and Nicole Beharie. The energy and the chemistry between the two is electric and they play-off the other really well. Its also significant that despite the presence of a former soldier like Ichabod in the show, Abby’s character is always portrayed as strong and someone capable of holding her own in a fight. As the cynic in the pilot, she stands as a representation for many of the questions that I as a viewer have about everything that is going on and Beharie is always at the top of her game here.

Things end on both a good note and a bad note, and we see that the events are just starting off. The Horseman is loose (and he rode into the sunset on the back of his horse with a bloody police-issue automatic weapon in one hand instead of his usual axe), Ichabod is now time-displaced into the future, and Abby has to face some really tough times that touch on some bits of her past that directly connect to the new ongoing events in Sleepy Hollow.

The second episode takes a slight step back and furthers Ichabod’s own arc and we learn more about him and his wife Katrina, who was revealed as a good witch in the previous episode. The mysterious coven that brought back the Horseman now seeks to bring back one of the more powerful evil witches from the days of the Revolutionary War and Katrina’s shade charges her husband to stop that from happening.

There are a lot of plot threads that are carried over from the previous episode, such as Abby’s growing doubts as to whether or not whatever is going on is truly happening, the doubts of her Captain Irving who thinks that everything has a rational explanation, particularly since neither Abby nor Ichabod can offer any supernatural proof, Ichabod’s adjustment to the present and particularly his affronts at all the modern evils that he has trouble comprehending (such as the 10% tax which he complains strongly about), and the subplot involving the demon who is involved with the mysterious coven.

At every point the episode makes it clear that this is a thriller first and foremost and it maintains a steady level of excitement. I didn’t expect the second episode to be this good, but it was and I’m myself quite thrilled with it. The entire angle with the demon who is manipulating the events struck me as a really good subplot in itself, especially how the episode ends, and I’m quite interested in how it is taken forward for the rest of the season. More excellent dialogue between Abby and Ichabod raises the material, which was already good to begin with, and the overall experience was just fantastic.

This is what I love about a show like this. The story is always tightly controlled so that there aren’t any unintentional loose ends and it is always focused on going forward, at progressing the overall plot. There is no getting lost in the minutiae with this show.

Sleepy Hollow Cast 0001The third episode takes a step back from the focus on Ichabod to instead focus on Abby. After a really terrific dream sequence which was full-on creepy and shocking, we see the dynamic duo arrive at a potential suicide scene where the victim has asked to see Abby, saying that she will speak only to her. Abby only gets some random cryptic talk from the woman before she jumps off and smashes straight into a car down below. The as-expected supernatural creepy events follow, and the dynamic duo are once again on the hunt of a demon, except that this one is not what they expect, at all.

There is a fair portion of the episode taken up with exploring the relationship between Abby and her sister Jenny, who has been going in and out of mental institutions ever since they were both kids. The two girls once saw a demon in the woods and where Jenny told everybody the truth, Abby lied about it, something that Jenny has never forgiven her for. Ichabod is the vehicle used to get Abby to begin to acknowledge what she did wrong and this has major consequences in the second half of the episode.

The character drama between the two leads was much more personal this time, owing to how personal of a story this is for Abby. Abby’s cynical walls are slowly breaking down under the relentless assault of all the supernatural hokey-pokey that is happening and Ichabod guides her to understanding things one by one. Its almost a mentor-student relationship and its really fun to see how they both stand their ground in an argument and yet how they also acknowledge the other’s viewpoint. Thankfully, there are no romantic entanglements of any kind here, a cliche that the writers have done a good job of avoiding thus far.

I also liked that the show took the time to acknowledge that supernatural events in Sleepy Hollow are not just taking their cue from Christian mythology, but also from more local sources, such as the Mohawk tribe of Native Americans, a nation that stretched the continent according to Ichabod. It adds some colour beyond the obvious to the show and I liked the twist. And it all blends in smoothly with what’s happening in the town in general, with the local spirits in a state of unrest with the necromantic return of the Headless Horseman.

The way that this episode ended leaves me to believe that there is something pretty big going to go down in the next few episodes, and I absolutely cannot wait.

Mison and Beharie have been turning in some fantastic performances in the show as are the two primary supporting actors, the excellent Orlando Jones as Captain Frank Irving and Katia Winter as Ichabod’s wife Katrina. Clancy Brown, playing Sheriff Corbin, in some dream sequences, as well being alive for a few minutes in the pilot, has also been a standout performer. He is best known perhaps for his tons of voice-work for various popular animated series and its great to see him get an occasional cameo in the show.

So far for me, almost everything about the show is a total hit and I’m definitely in for the entire season, whether it is 13 episodes or 22 or however many. Created by Len Wiseman, Roberto Orci, Alex Kurtzmann and Philip Iscove, the show is definitely in good hands.

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Posted on November 27, 2013, in Review Central, Sleepy Hollow, TV Show Reviews and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 13 Comments.

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