When I saw the first trailers for Fox’s “Sleepy Hollow,” I made fun of them. I said things like “Ha ha! How stupid!” and things of that nature.
But, alas, I am a hypocrite, because even as I made fun of the commercials I thought to myself, “Who am I kidding. If this show goes up on Hulu I’m gonna watch it.”
Which it did, and I did.
And I was very pleasantly surprised by how much fun it was.
In the very first episode, you’ve got time travel, multiple decapitations, revisionist American history, a machine-gun-wielding Headless Horseman, and the phrase “Headless Horseman of the Apocalypse.”
And if reading the phrase “Headless Horseman of the Apocalypse” didn’t make you smile just now, then this probably isn’t the show for you.
But if it did, then you are in for a good time. Seriously, I really like this show. It’s a strange, unwieldy beast to be sure, but it is a heck of a lot of fun, and it fulfills all the requirements of good television.
Likable, engaging leads with good chemistry? Check.
Creative premise? Check.
Fun storylines with a lot of variation each week? Check.
Briefly, the show reimagines Ichabod Crane as a British Revolutionary War soldier, who defected to the American side for some reason that currently escapes me. In battle, he fights this guy…
And lops his head off, but is killed himself in the process. He wakes up in the modern-day town of Sleepy Hollow, and is understandably baffled by cars, electricity, and the like. Turns out Ichabod’s wife was a (good) witch, who put some kind of spell on him. His fight with the Horseman (pictured above) has left the two of them connected somehow, since their blood mixed on the battlefield or something. The Horseman has also awakened in the present day, which is why Ichabod awakens at the same time.
So there are some weird things going on in Sleepy Hollow, and Ichabod soon meets the show’s other protagonist, Lieutenant Abby Mills, a cop with a troubled history who has her own reasons for believing Ichabod’s story of having come from the 18th century. Together, Abby and Ichabod fight monsters.
If this all sounds ridiculous, that’s because it absolutely is. But holy crap is it entertaining.
After watching this week’s episode on Hulu yesterday, I realized something else about why I like it so much.
And that is the aforementioned variation. The show is completely different each week. It’s a lot less predictable than other shows. There’s so much batshit craziness that it’s impossible to predict what will happen next.
This addresses one of the problems I have with a lot of TV shows, which is that they’re more or less the same every week. Even with shows I really like, such as Castle or Burn Notice, they still follow the same “Case-of-the-Week” or “Crime-of-the-Week” format. With Sleepy Hollow, it’s more of a “Monster-of-the-Week” setup.
For me, this is awesome, since you never know what kind of evil our heroes will be battling next. With crime shows and police procedurals and such, you know there’s going to be a murder, there’s going to be investigating, questioning suspects, talking to the medical examiner, blah blah blah, and by the end of the episode the killer will have been caught and everything will be fine, only for some other poor sap to be creatively murdered in the next episode. It’s a formula that works, which is why so many shows have used it. But it starts to feel a bit stale after you’ve seen it a couple dozen times.
Through the five episodes of Sleepy Hollow that have aired so far, our heroes have already battled the Headless Horseman, a witch, and a faceless nightmare monster, they’ve stopped some evil cult dudes from opening a portal to hell that would unleash 72 evil demons (are there such things as good demons?), and in this week’s episode they prevented a creepy virus caused by the Horseman of Pestilence from wiping out the whole town of Sleepy Hollow. Not bad for a few weeks’ work.
You see what I’m getting at here? I love the variation of this show. Who knows what Lovecraftian horrors await our heroes next week? I find myself really looking forward to finding out every week, which is pretty important for serialized television.
There are also some really cool monster designs. This is important for a “Monster-of-the-Week” show. Take the Sandman from the third episode…
Gah! I wouldn’t want this dude haunting my dreams. He wouldn’t be out of place in a Guillermo Del Toro movie. (speaking of Uncle Guillermo, I watched Pacific Rim again last night and it was awesome. It’s on Blu-Ray now so go see it if you haven’t already. Seriously.)
So if you like cool, creepy monsters; fun, unpredictable stories; likable, engaging protagonists; and a healthy dose of unpredictability, then check out Sleepy Hollow and be thoroughly entertained. Unlike The Following, which was the last Fox show I watched (it sucked), Sleepy Hollow is actually really fun.
Now if you’ll excuse me, I’ve got a TV show or two to watch. There are some really good ones out there now.