Sleepy Hollow: A catch-up
comes from the minds of the men who wrote the Star Trek reboots and more importantly Cowboys and Aliens. With the help of Len Wiseman and Phillip Iscove, these two men have mashed up the police procedural, the odd couple, the formation of modern America, Washington Irving and the Book of Revelations. And it's quite a heady brew going into darker places than the likes of Once Upon a Time would dare, still having to hold on to the violence and mayhem to keep it acceptable as a network show.Sensibly beginning with the recognisably gothic tale of Ichabod Crane and the headless horseman the series begins with many heads being relieved of their usual necks in modern Sleepy Hollow, a small US town. We learn that Ichabod's bloodline has become enmeshed with that of the horseman and that they have both arrived in the present to fight over the coming end of days. Cue ultra-hot Nicole Berharie as a sceptical cop as Crane's modern day partner and a whole back-story spreading on to the likes of Paul Revere, the lost village of Roanoake, and Freemasons aplenty.
Now, I mention Once Upon a Time for a reason. At the beginning of its first season, I had high hopes as the story played out only to founder on the rocks of very bad writing and a second season where we disappeared regularly up the equivalent of fairytale colons. Any sense of shade was prevented from becoming too dark and the great Robert Carlyle and the perfect Lana Parrilla were humanised just before anything unpalatable might happen. My best hope for Sleepy Hollow was that this unambitious and imaginative road was not taken again.After the first two episodes, I did began to develop a sense of deja vu and wondered whether the tale would develop past the simply act of giving the horseman an Uzi rather than an axe. Happily, Sleepy Hollow went ahead and surprised me with a run of 5 strong episodes and a real winning repartee developing between the sassy 21st century cop and the centuries interloper Crane. The writers begin to have real fun with him as a duck out of water, and by episode 7 there are some priceless gags about paying for drinking water and porn pop-ups on the internet - "that is wildly inappropriate".
Tom Mison as Crane manages the balance between comedy and dramatic intensity very well and Beharie is a pint sized gutsy heroine who has got over some bad exposition (the introduction of her sister) to lead the action well. There's a few stock characters around them but now it seems the writers have much more freedom to re-write history and legend as they please and some much bigger revelations may be about to come our way. A second series is already confirmed and I truly hope the current momentum is sustained as Sleepy Hollow is now must watch TV....
You can catch Sleepy Hollow on Hulu or The Universal Channel in the UK. The promo for the fine seventh episode is below: