And so we finally come to it. This week, Fox’s Sleepy Hollow ended its first season with a special two-hour episode. As I’ve said in my previous reviews, this is a show that I’ve really come to enjoy and the previous two episodes have been some of the best work on the show yet. Sure, some subplots have been sort of ignored and so have certain characters, but overall, I can definitely say that each and every episode has been a joy to watch. It avoided many of the pitfalls of a team-up show in its first season, or just first season blues in general, and that’s been the best thing about it, among others.
There have been a damn load of revelations in all the previous episodes. In episodes 10-12, all the revelations finally begin to make sense and they come together to deliver more revelations on top of all that. Another thing is that these three episodes allowed the full cast to get their day in the sun. The writers touched on pretty much every subplot here, although I think that the finale could have done with a lot more, but still, the finale mostly left me with my jaw hanging open all the time. It also helps that the acting has been great, with Tom Mison and Nicole Beharie being the breakout actors of television in 2013 for me.
Note: This review contains spoilers about these three episodes.
Its been almost two months since I last did a review for this show. Some of you might have wondered why. I mean, I was covering the show on a weekly basis with every new episode for nine weeks straight and then I didn’t cover the mid-season finale, which was a rather explosive moment for the series, on several different levels. Those of you who follow me on social media knew well how I felt about that episode though. Sadly, my feelings have hardly changed with the show’s return and the recent two episodes. Thing is, for me the mid-season finale was very boring, with the follow-up episode being extremely disappointing and this week’s episode being barely decent.
The mid-season finale brought back Mike Peterson, who we last saw in the series premiere. It was an episode with a personal twist for him and the ending made me really frustrated. The mid-season premiere made me cringe all throughout. And this week’s episode, while it had some good moments and was overall better than the previous two episodes, still did not make a dent in my growing dislike of the show. At this point, I’m just about going through the motions. I went from tuning in for the show weekly to catching up on the two recent episodes this weekend late at night the day before and yesterday. I just can’t get all that excited any more.
Note: This review contains spoilers about the resurrection of Phil Coulson and other important moments, particularly Skye’s mysterious parents.
Sleepy Hollow is one of those shows that kind of slips under the radar for a while before quickly coming out explosively. The first six episodes, while really good in almost all respects, still skirted with some expected stuff. The stakes were high, the tension was always high, but still the show felt somewhat limited in scope. As you’ve no doubt seen from my previous reviews, I really enjoyed the six episodes, in particular the chemistry between the two leads Nicole Beharie and Tom Mison, who might as well be the 2013-2014 television programming season’s breakout stars for me.
Episodes seven to nine did much to up the tension even more, and increased the scope of everything, whether we talk about character backstory, or the stakes involved, or just the character drama involved. Additionally, episode eight in particular hinted in a big way that there is a very big story arc involved for the first season. Additionally, episodes seven and eight marked the return of the Horseman to the show and that in itself is worth every single second of those episodes. And episode nine really did a number with giving us more of Katrina’s backstory and had a huge reveal for Ichabod. Suffice to say, I really enjoyed these three episodes.
Last time I mentioned that Sleepy Hollow had become a surprise hit for me after watching the first few episodes. I’m not a big fan of the horror/supernatural genre, but I’ve seen a few shows and movies over the years that I’ve liked, and a few that I haven’t. If done right, they can be quite good. If handled badly, they can be really terrible. Sleepy Hollow is a straight up horror show that works because first and foremost the characters are excellent and second, the stories are all engaging and brilliantly told with a clear overall narrative. The last of those two is quite important for any show, more so for one that really depends so much on the audience’s suspension of disbelief.
The first three episodes of the show really hooked me in right from the start. I’d started watching the show on a whim because of a passing interest at best but after that pilot and then the next few episodes, I couldn’t get enough of the show. As of writing this review, I’ve caught up with all nine episodes of the show so far (the tenth airs tomorrow) and its great to see that the writers have kept the overall story on track despite taking an occasional detour to tell some side stories that build on the overall narrative. These three episodes, they did a great job of building on the overall mythology of Sleepy Hollow and giving some new perspectives on all the events that have been going on in the town.
Last week I talked about how uneven Agents of SHIELD was in terms of story quality, and I mentioned that the show flip-flopped with good and bad storylines every other week with almost a regularity to it. Still, it is very early days yet for the show, we are barely two months into it in fact, and so I can sort of accept such unevenness since a lot of shows struggle at this point in their development. The creators have to work from scratch, have to spread themselves around and hit on the magical story that will truly resonate with viewers and keep bringing them back in droves every week.
I’ve said again and again that this show is a very promising one and that it needs to take chances and be truly bold. It has a solid premise, it just needs to work on its execution, which is where it is most lacking for now. This week’s episode does some really interesting things and best of all it finally gives a reason for why Agent Melinda May gave up field-work and took a desk-job. At the same time, we also get an indirect Thor: The Dark World tie-in, which is just in keeping with last week’s episode which was much more of a tie-in than this one. However, the show still continued its “villain of the week” pattern and that was most disappointing, more so since there was a distinct lack of any story elements related to the previous episodes.
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.
Agents of SHIELD is a show that often tests my patience. One episode will be good, another not so much. And this flip flop continues in a loop every two weeks. There’s almost a regularity to it. It is one of the most uneven shows that I’ve watched, which is saying something since I’m quite a fan of Joss Whedon’s other shows and the ones I’ve seen have all been excellent, losing steam only about the time that they hit their final seasons. The show is extremely promising, but it just doesn’t capture the imagination as well as it should be.
Last week’s episode was kind of a bore. It lacked all the excitement and character drama of the episode the week before. But this week’s episode somehow turns it around. It is better than last week’s episode, primarily because it makes a strong effort to tie-in to the larger Marvel Cinematic Universe. And there is some interesting character development as well, with regards to Agent Ward, one character on the show who desperately needs that kind of development.
Given the news that Marvel released last week (read here), it seems that Agents of SHIELD isn’t the only show that the comics powerhouse and its owner Disney are developing on the road to creating a live-action connected universe that can rival their cinematic universe and even work alongside it. In light of that, I suppose it makes sense that one or two characters in the show that I thought would turn into regulars and become characters I recognise didn’t turn out that way. So that takes some of the sting out of my disappointment with the show. But that disappointment remains nonetheless.
This week’s episode did some interesting things, changing the status quo on a micro level for the team and giving us some interesting new pairings between the various characters, but as it turns out, they made quite a few questionable missteps and where I’d thought that last week’s FitzSimmons centric episode marked a new phase for the show, this week’s outing pretty much disabuses me of the notion, and I’m starting to think that the show is going to be stuck where it is right now in terms of the narrative and its approach to its characters.
There’s a lot that has been happening in Marvel’s Agents of SHIELD since its launch six weeks ago. Some promising characters have come and gone, leaving me disappointed with the direction that the show has been going in. Some of the characterisation for the main cast has always been a major issue, as has been the lack of a clear meta-story. All the same, the show has offered some interesting things to keep viewer, such as myself, hooked.
While some of the flaws of the previous episodes have carried on through this week’s episode, the show also went in a clearly different direction than I expected from watching the first few minutes. For the first time, the show really surprised me, and that has weight for me since it makes clear that the show isn’t afraid to take some challenges with viewer expectations. Although I wish that they went more full-out with a devil-may-care attitude. That would certainly help.
Watching the first four episodes of Leverage about three weeks back proved to be one of the best experiences of television viewing to date. The show began on a really good note, and it brought together some really fun characters, put them in what initially appeared to really tough situations and then showed how they got together, pooled their resources and abilities to come up with some really innovative and bright solutions to these problems.
Outside of a handful of movies, I haven’t really seen any show where confidence men and heists were the big premise, and in that regard the show proved to be extremely fresh for me. Especially since at the time of writing this review, I’ve already finished all thirteen episodes of the first season and have seen the first three episodes of the second season. I had “vowed” to myself not to get into the second season until I finished reviewing the first season but the other day, I just couldn’t hold back anymore and after a valiant 10-day break, I was back into Leverage. That’s how damn good this show has been till now.
Marvel’s Agents of SHIELD returned this week with a brand new episode, where we get to meet a new threat to Coulson’s team, and also get to see some real tie-ins between the episodes as more of the world is revealed to viewers. Till now, the show has been heavily serialised, with the episodes having little to no tie-ins with each other and this created quite a bit of a disconnect with me since I wanted there to be a build-up early on, and the show wasn’t giving me what I wanted.
But, with this episode, things look to be changing in that regard, even as on other fronts the show continues to disappoint. Casting issues remain, the pacing is still a problem, and the acting is not quite there yet either. The show seems to be stuck in a honeymoon period where viewership is dependent on people wanting to tune in every week for a small handful of positives resulting out of the show’s spinoff nature from the Marvel Cinematic Universe.
So far the show has had a mixed reception. On one hand people are praising the entire concept, the setting, etc. On the other hand, people are quite frustrated with some of the characterisation and the casting and the story and whatever else. For me, so far the show has just failed to click in the same way that the first seasons of Leverage, Smallville, Arrow, Game of Thrones and many others over the years have clicked. There is something very integral that is missing in the show, and its really holding it back.
Largely, its a matter of tonal consistency since the previous three episodes have been all over the place in that regard. Each episode so far has focused on completely different things and as a result, the tone and attitude has also been different for each. The show’s writers and directors just need to get together and have a single unifying vision for the show that focuses on the strengths of everybody involved rather than do something haphazard like this week’s episode.