A trill of heart-pumping music, the cry of muskets, and Sleepy Hollow is off and running. In a series of quick flashes there's a battle scene, a resurrection, and the unnerving view of the present-day future, all before settling in a diner, inviting you to sit down and stay a while. I think I'll do just that.
Sleepy Hollow uses the source material by Washington Irving scarcely, relying on it mainly for names and the description of the Big Bad. There is some lip service to the original--having the modern day police captain named Irving, and Ichabod Crane briefly mentioning a teaching career that was derailed by Revolutionary War demands--but all that is glossed over in exchange for a pulpy, delicious stew of magic and mystery.
Here, Ichabod Crane spends precious little time in his native 1700's. He's there long enough to kill a seemingly unstoppable horseman (through decapitation, naturally), before succumbing to his wounds and "dying." I use quotes because mere moments after what appears to be his vision blurring, he rises from the ground and wanders into 2013 traffic. While Crane is exposed to the world of horseless carriages, we are introduced to Abbie Mills, a top-notch cop with a mysterious secret and a sudden desire to leave Sleepy Hollow. Their paths converge when a murderous horsemen, who somehow lacks a head, kills Abbie's partner. Ichabod is on hand and ready to know way too much about the situation. As he and Abbie work together, they soon unravel witchy secrets revolving around the promise of Apocalypse, and only they can prevent the worst from happening.
In many ways, this sets up an unlikely partnership to take on cases and save the town. At it's heart, after all, this is another cop show. One of the benchmarks of cop shows, since the moment the cop show crawled out of the primordial ooze, fully fleshed and mustachioed, is the partnership angle. One follows protocol, while the other is a loose cannon. One wears ties, while the other listens to their gut. When supernatural elements are added to this mixture, the dynamic morphs into the believer and the skeptic.
What Sleepy Hollow does well is mix these lines, blurs these rote qualifiers into characters that become rich and complex from the get-go. Everyone's a skeptic, but everyone believes. There's Abbie, who has experienced the sting of scorn for what happened to her and her sister, who has firsthand knowledge of forcing the truth to lie dormant. She's seen the Horseman, she's seen demons, and she has stuck out her chin and survived these events. She doesn't have to believe, she knows. But her faith has a flaw--the bigger picture is too much for her. The suddenness of the connections is overwhelming, and she starts to quake on her foundation.
That's where Ichabod Crane enters. He hears of mystical horsemen and violent murders and accepts these things without a single hesitation. Biblical clues and strange, wife-trapping netherworlds are practically rote, and the magic and superstition surrounding the story are acknowledged with a brisk nod and a shrug. Even the sudden transportation centuries into the future is accepted fairly easily, but as he gets further ensconced into society the trappings of the modern world prove more difficult. He can accept the ethereal, but the everyday is a struggle.
The shows wonderfully manipulates these complementary beliefs, interplaying them between Abbie and Ichabod, the police chief and the captain, yet Sleepy Hollow also warns of the the dangers in accepting things blindly. Abbie's colleague Andy Dunn, played with perfect Renfield-esque devotion by John Cho, learns of the pratfalls of giving one's soul to belief. His morals betray him, leaving a faint whisper that a bit more skepticism would have served him well.
Overall, Sleepy Hollow is more than promising, it's entertaining. It begins with adventure and a dash of magic, and soon goes into some genuinely creepy and fantastical elements, starting with a bang and ending with a jump.
-Dude. I live in Boston. There are Revolutionary War cemeteries every couple blocks. Believe me when I say there is no chance on earth that Katrina Crane's grave would be that legible. Even the graves from the early 1800's are worn to near oblivion! I call FALSE, props department.
-While I enjoy the moxie and ambition behind the writers declaring a prophesied and mandatory seven-year connection with Ichabod and Abbie, a huge part of me doubts they can sustain this series for quite that long. I mean, I'm all in, but even Supernatural can barely keep the momentum going past season four.
-The amount of shifty-eyes in the pilot alone delights me. Shifty-eyed preacher! Shifty-eyed captain! I can't wait until they throw in a shifty-eyed dog.
-It seems that sarcasm might be the universal language, surviving the jump from 1781 to 2013 completely intact. I couldn't be happier.
-I'm usually suspicious of these "strong" female leads in a male world (see: Olivia Dunham, or Kate Beckett), but I like Abbie. She seems sassy, but her fragility doesn't seem forced. Plus, she's not above using feminine wiles to get what she wants--like using her need for closure to get alone time with Ichabod--and I love that.
-Speaking of alone time with Ichabod, yes. Good casting Fox. Yes.