Sleepy Hollow: Review: Season 1 Ep 1

SleepyHollowS01E01Fox, 16 September 2013

Ichabod Crane wakes in the present (the victim of witchcraft) pursued by the headless horseman…

This show (largely created by Star Trek and Fringe writers Roberto Orci and Alex Kurtzman) sounded just terrible on paper, so it comes as something of a relief that it makes for a mostly enjoyable, if not too promising, opening episode.

Tom Mison is a charming enough fish-out-of-water as the time displaced Crane, while there’s a witty Highlander-referencing (if all too short) cameo by Clancy Brown (the Kurgan, remember?) right at the top of the show. The premise is bonkers, with Crane’s wife turning out to be an undead witch trapped in some kind of dream limbo (who’d have guessed?) who preserved his life, and two warring factions (one good, one evil, dontchaknow) engaged in an occult battle in the cracks of American history. Yep, it’s Sleepy Hollow meets National Treasure with a dash of The Terminator (that horseman just keeps-a-comin’) and a soupcon of Dan Brown’s Da Vinci Code nonsense for good measure.

Mison—more of a theatre guy than a film or TV actor—just about holds this episode together with his turn as Crane, but even than might get tiring after a few more instalments. Nichole Beharie, as the police officer he’s forcibly partnered with, makes little impression—although her character has a childhood connection to the occult weirdness that’s just come to her town (of course).

At least movie director Len Wiseman (the Underworld movies) is not asleep at the wheel in directing this opener, as he makes some attempts (oh, look, the camera’s upside down!) to do something distinctive within the restrictions of rush-produced American episodic television. Some of this pilot is rather atmospheric, even if at times some of the occult set design and dressing seems to have come from a Hallowe’en hire store…

Much of the formulaic writing just about scrapes past unnoticed while the character stuff is going on, but after a while, Sleepy Hollow reverts to the usual action-fighty nonsense that so plagues genre television these days. It has to be asked: what does a supernaturally-empowered headless horseman need a machine gun for? And he’s one of the four horsemen of the apocalypse? Yeah, right.

Weirdly, no-one in this version of 2013 appears to have read Washington Irving… They should, it might help them out…

Verdict: Not a dog by any means, but horribly formulaic: mind you, can 10 million viewers be wrong? Only time, and a few more episodes, will tell if there’s life in Sleepy Hollow

Episode 1 “Pilot”: 6/10

Brian J. Robb

Discussion

One thought on “Sleepy Hollow: Review: Season 1 Ep 1

  1. Have been watching this show now and am really bothered by your headless (re: mindless) review. As there are now comments, maybe no one read your review?

    Posted by snowcat60 | October 4, 2013, 1:53 pm

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