Maybe it's part of my conditioning, one of the quirks of living in a post-Twin Peaks world, but at this point it's practically a given that moments of darkness and terror will be tempered with sugars and fats. When Sleepy Hollow segues from intensity to a shot of flaky apple pie drowning in smooth vanilla ice cream, it feels natural. Right, even.
That's where this second episode, "Blood Moon," cements my love. This show is not new. I cannot over-emphasize that enough--innovative television, thy name is not Sleepy Hollow. But what does it matter? When it comes to entertainment and the pure joy of genre, this is hitting it right on the money. Sleepy Hollow knows exactly what it is, and even if it isn't "new" per se, it grants the program a refreshing air of confidence. Since the horror and detective-ness and shlock is all out in the open anyway, why not have fun?
One of the greatest strengths in this episode is the power of homage. Or, to be more precise, the little winks and nods to classics, always slightly referential in tone and never a cookie-cutter lift. It manages to reference the mood of classic horror without falling into blank puppetry of the scenes that created such tension. From the cold open's nightmarish use of vines that seemed ripped from The Evil Dead (but thankfully didn't go all the way in the same vein), to the vaguely The Thing-esque resurrection of John Cho's Andy, rising and running about a stark medical lab, slight reminiscences run rampant. Speaking of which, Cho-mbie's deadpan delivery as he intimidates small children and quietly stalks Abbie is as unsettling as any Hitchcock psychos. While he's still mainly a Renfield, running about doing the bidding of the demon-in-charge, it's obvious that you don't want this fellow left to his own devices. Who knows what fresh hell could arise. These kinds of familiar scenes and moods are deftly used, grounding the show in supernatural horror without making it boring. It makes me feel instantly at ease in this world, freeing the show to have fun with wordplay and relationships.
And how about those wordplays and relationships? Good heavens. Ichabod's matter-of-fact nature, meted with bursts of excitement about modern things, will never cease to make me grin like a little English schoolgirl. I'm with you, Mr. Crane. $4.95 for doughnuts is ludicrous. The dream team of Ichabod and Abbie still surprises me with how much I like it. Abbie is excellent at portraying the role of strong woman in the male-dominated workforce without making me feel irritable. She's not being overly preachy about it ...*cough*Fringe*cough*..., and she's revealing slight cracks, showing internal tension as she keeps a strong face while desperately trying to handle a world that's doesn't follow the rules she believed in.
It's not a perfect show, despite all my gushing. Not all of the special effects are wonderful--even though I loved the charred witchy villain of this week--and there are moments that don't make sense. A mid-episode sojourn through centuries-old tunnels served no purpose, other than to introduce the third act smoking gun. But why nitpick? I'm happy to grab some popcorn, turn on the hall light so it's not totally dark, and watch the dang show.