Washington Irving’s short story The Legend of Sleepy Hollow has been adapted so many times since originally published in 1820 that most don’t even know the original story. The newest incarnation from Fox, titled simply Sleepy Hollow, is as loose an adaptation (and I mean loose!) as you’ll find, set in modern times while establishing a much broader and complex mythology for its characters.
[pullquote_left]The pilot episode is pretty messy, but there’s an eccentric sense of fun and excitement.[/pullquote_left]
Our hero Ichabod Crane is no longer the timid bookworm schoolteacher, but a soldier for George Washington that actually beheaded the legendary Headless Horseman. In this update, both men are somehow revived in modern times, opening up an apocalyptic mystery that Ichabod must stop with the help of local Hollow law enforcement before a new supernatural evil befalls the world.
[pullquote_right]The result was finding myself laughing at quite a few ludicrous moments.[/pullquote_right] Sleepy Hollow is an absurd melting pot of genre television that takes very little from its source material, other than the villain’s lack of a head. The pilot episode is pretty messy, but there’s an eccentric sense of fun and excitement that makes up for a lot of the ham-fisted storytelling. There’s quite a bit of really awful stuff in the episode, some of which is so bad it’s good, and some that’s standard-definition bad – there’s a balance somewhere in between that I typically enjoy, but the pilot doesn’t quite get it right. The result was finding myself laughing at quite a few ludicrous moments, like the Headless Horseman walking around downtown Hollow using modern weaponry like automatic weapons, and a couple of the gimmicky but fun fish-out-of-water moments for Ichabod.
The show pulls heavily from some of my favorite genre shows of the past, strongly evoking things like Supernatural and the more apocalyptic moments of Angel. Tom Mison as Ichabod is actually quite good and does a nice job elevating some really bad dialogue, and while the rest of the cast doesn’t fare as well, it’s always nice to see Clancy Brown and John Cho in anything, and both have pivotal roles in the pilot episode. Oh, and Orlando Jones (remember him?) is still working apparently, because he’s in this as another police officer (all the main cast is on the force) and brings his usual likability, but it feels a bit weird to have him in this type of show.
[pullquote_left]Sleepy Hollow is goofy as hell. Pun intended.[/pullquote_left]Sleepy Hollow is goofy as hell. Pun intended. But even though the marketing and trailers for the show made it look like a train wreck it’s actually some decent fun. Sleepy Hollow is ridiculous and knows it, and the pilot episode dances from genre to genre managing to keep the audience having fun and interested, if not quite intellectually stimulated.
Some genuinely creepy moments. The humor. The twist they left out of the trailers. Tom Mison as Ichabod. The Supernatural feel of the apocalypse they are creating.
Lots of hokey moments. The humor (yes just as much bad as good). Why is this called Sleepy Hollow again? It’s nothing like it. The tone is a mess and scattered for a lot of the episode.
The show is goofy entertainment while having a lot of fun re-imagining its source material in a modern world. It makes for an entertaining ride, but one that’s bumpy along the way, and the sum of all its parts isn’t as good some of its individual segments.