Fox kicked off their Fall television series on Monday night with ‘Sleepy Hollow,’ the latest fantasy adventure show to hit the airwaves. It’s based on Washington Irving‘s classic ‘The Legend of Sleepy Hollow’ tale, but with a modern twist of course. Instead of Ichabod Crane being a scaredy cat teacher, he’s a soldier from the Revolutionary War who wakes up in the present day and is still on a mission to stop the end of the world. Got that? Well there’s lots more.
Crane beheads a a seemingly invincible horseman on the battlefield, but succumbs to a chest wound. He emerges from a cave and is almost run over by some of those newfangled cars. Later he discovers the president he was fighting for, Washington, on the $1 bill, and that black people are no longer slaves. It’s a rude awakening, but not as bad as the one Sheriff August Corbin, played in an all too brief role by Clancy Brown, gets when he realizes that all of the strange things he’s been investigating about his town are true. Just as he meets his maker by the hands of the Headless Horseman. Crane is naturally deemed crazy with his rants about being a time traveler and is temporarily thrown into a sanitarium, until the headstrong cop Abbie Mills takes an interest in him and his stories. It’s a different, and much needed, take on the “new, mysterious stranger” trope where the girl isn’t a helpless mess, and the dead-ish guy isn’t a total creep.
The dialogue is slick and is helped by the fact that the show doesn’t take itself so seriously. They openly address the racial dynamics between Ichabod and Abbie, though there is an obvious attraction between the two. The cast is solid, headed by the gorgeous and talented Nicole Beharie and the quite handsome Tom Mison, whose Crane has his moments of cockiness but is otherwise a gentleman. Orlando Jones, straying from his usual comedic roles, plays the slightly cliche apprehensive captain who wants to throw them both in jail, but who else is going to solve that whole headless guy on a horse problem the town has?
John Cho is Abbie’s suspect partner, and it’s just nice to see Cho in anything. The action scenes are tense, and though not as gory as you’d expect with someone like ‘Underworld’ director Len Wiseman behind the camera, seeing the beheadings from the victim’s point of view is a nice touch.
I think ‘Sleepy Hollow’ would have fit in nicely with the supernatural shows of Fox’s 90’s heyday. Sandwiched between ‘The X Files’ and the odd but satisfying ‘Millennium.’ It nicely balances the dark tone of Tim Burton‘s version with the lightheartedness of the animated version. It will have some big competition being on Monday nights at 9 p.m., but I think Fox has a strong hit on their hands.
So, will you be losing your head over ‘Sleepy Hollow?’