Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Sleepy Hollow: TV Pilot Review

Fox premiered their new version of Sleepy Hollow last night and I had sincere reservations about the modern twist on the Headless Horseman. But it is smartly written, well-produced, funny, scary,  and has two incredibly likable lead actors. The story is a mashup of Washington Irving's tale, an Illuminati-like conspiracy with symbols and people sworn to protect secrets, witches, demons, and a Biblical apocalypse meant to come in seven years (seven seasons?). Created by the same guy who created Fringe, Sleepy Hollow will get a lot of geek love but it's much more accessible and fun. It feels like a blend of The X-Files and Supernatural with an undercurrent of Buffy the Vampire Slayer thrown in for good measure.

English theatre actor and writer Tom Mison as Ichabod Crane brings such a definitive, well-rounded life to Ichabod Crane. Unlike the buffoonish fop that Johnny Depp made of Ichabod in Tim Burton's Sleepy Hollow, Mison plays his Ichabod as dedicated soldier, neurotically focused of tasks, pragmatic, yet genuinely warm, subtly charming, and even insightful given the circumstances. The obvious schtick of being introduced to the world of cars, flashlights, and power windows is low-key, fleeting, and ultimately funny.

The pilot was thrilling and it could develop a following if the quality, tone and storytelling remain consistent (and if FOX doesn't hastily cancel it). Only a couple of moments felt like a misstep (the massive Horsemen playing hide-and-seek in an apartment then dropping his axe in favor of an arsenal of automatic weapons). It will be difficult to give the Horseman much character without a head, so he'll be more of a token of evil for the show. They showed the real villain here and it was chilling. I'm also guessing IT will be responsible for what looks like a "monster-of-the-week" scenario (judging by the series preview) with the horseman as the season-(series?) spanning arc.