Greetings and salutations, Fellow Fridge Nukers! Bradfield here – reporting from the funnel cake stand at beautiful, historic, Colonial Williamsburg!
I’ll say it up front: of all the things I talk about and/or on which I have an opinion, new comics and TV pilots are the trickiest (which is generally why I try to avoid reviewing them). I simply find it difficult to wholeheartedly recommend anything that is, at the end of the day, a part of a whole, when to truly evaluate an installment driven, sequential story, it is generally best to give a show or a book a few chances to find its “sea legs.” For example, if Star Trek: The Next Generation were evaluated simply on the merits of “The Farpoint Encounter,” we’d most likely not be talking about it as a series that rivals the original, but, probably a charming attempt at recapturing lightning in a bottle.
So the good news is that, based on the pilot episode, which I saw at this year’s Comic-Con, Sleepy Hollow is certainly worth checking out. In a nutshell, it is a clever mash-up of supernatural thriller and “buddy cop” drama, with the spine of not just Washington Irving’s semi-titular classic tale, The Legend of Sleepy Hollow, but with a garnish of the author’s other best known work, Rip Van Winkle. Tonight’s pilot [9 p.m. on Fox] is directed by the series’ executive producer, Len Weisman – definitely the guy you want if you’re doing action oriented horror. And it hits the ground running. So while I’m not swearing on a stack of bibles that this is going to be the next hot thing in television, it’s worth a look.
The concept is simple, and complex at the same time. The legendary Headless Horseman has risen from the dead, once again to terrorize the citizens of Sleepy Hollow (which is now a quaint, tourist town in the tradition of Solvang). Shortly thereafter, the one man to vanquish the Horseman, soldier/scholar Ichabod Crane (Tom Mison), whose whereabouts at the end of the original story are unknown, is also revived – much to the chagrin of local law enforcement. Thus, there are two levels – workaday cops trying to track down a serial killer, the serious gothic side of things; then a buddy cop story where the “buddies” are a man who was last alive in Colonial America, and his superior is a modern African-American woman, Abbie Mills (Nicole Beharie).
Add to the mix the idea that the Headless Horseman is not THE sole horseman to terrorize The Colonies, but one of the fabled Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse, and between the concept and the presentation, I do believe that there is a chance for a meaningful, or at least interesting, story for multiple seasons.
If I have one gripe with the series, it’s that the idea that it seems unnatural that a man who was last alive when both women and black people were subjugated, Ichabod has no problems taking orders from Abbie. Nor does it seem shocking to local law enforcement, after a short while, to be working with somebody with two options – Ichabod is either lying, or undead. Then again, I don’t think authenticity is high on the checklist for success on this project.
No matter what, while I won’t jump this bandwagon early, shouting from the rafters that this is the best thing I’ve seen, it is definitely a solid hour of television, and I’m interested in seeing more.
Sleepy Hollow premieres tonight on Fox at 9 p.m. I’m interested to hear what you think.