Andrew takes a look at the pilot episode of the new Sleepy Hollow TV series, and tries not to lose his head!
From Alex Kurtsman and Roberto Orci (creators of TV series Fringe), and director Len Wiseman (Underworld), comes the latest television adaptation of a classic story in present day setting. Sleepy Hollow follows the character of Ichabod Crane (Tom Mison), who during a confrontation in the American civil war, comes up against a rider with a mysterious brand on his hand, who it seems cannot be killed. After being injured by the rider, Ichabod manages to cut off the rider’s head with a sword, before apparently succumbing to his wounds.
Awaking in a cave that resembles a tomb, Ichabod finds himself hundreds of years later in present day Sleepy Hollow, where he soon learns that a horseman has killed several people. Questioned by the police, who believe him to be crazy and in need of psychiatric help, Lieutenant Abbie Mills (Nicole Beharie) of the local police department who has seen this ‘headless’ horseman, begins to believe his odd story, and after investigating the cave with Ichabod, joins forces with him. Ichabod is contacted through a vision by his wife Katrina (Katia Winter), who confirms she is a witch, and explains the reason for his burial and subsequent awakening. She explains there is a link between him and the horseman, and warns him that he must stop him, as he is the first of the four horsemen of the apocalypse.
When I heard about another classic story and character being remade as a television show (as well as this year’s new Dracula series), I was not especially looking forwards to it. It’s another sign of Hollywood’s movies and television industries seemingly running out of original ideas and re-hashing old stories in desperation with a more modern setting, and given past examples (see 2003’s Tarzan), these do not necessarily work particularly well.
Being created by the same people who also created the cryptic show that was Fringe, would they be as cryptic with this? Fortunately not, as the pilot episode of Sleepy Hollow successfully sets up the premise of the series, providing some answers to questions within it’s opening hour instead of dragging them out, while still not giving us everything. It even suggests the intended seven year story of the show, referencing the book of revelations, which “speaks of two witnesses, brought together for a period of tribulation to defend humanity from the forces of hell”.
There’s some nice little moments to be found in this, with things like the headless horseman switching up his axe for more modern weapons like a shotgun (it sounds corny, but honestly it’s a scene that I loved), and Ichabod’s difficulties as a man out of his time (there’s a wonderful moment between him and Abbie regarding slavery). The only thing I found a little distracting is just how quick, come episodes end, others appear to be believing Ichabod’s story of waking up after hundreds of years, but I guess we’ll have to see how that develops in subsequent episodes.
Sleepy Hollow is due to air in the U.K. on the Universal Channel on October 9th at 9pm.