First Watch: Sleepy Hollow – “Pilot” (Season 1, Episode 1)

Unless you’ve been (dead) in a cave for the last two centuries, you’ve probably run across “The Legend of Sleepy Hollow” in some form or another. If you haven’t or if you need a refresher, here is the rundown: around the time of the American Revolution, a man named Ichabod Crane has a run-in with a headless fellow on a horse. In the original short story by Washington Irving, the nature of the Headless Horseman is left open to interpretation, but it is implied that he is actually a normal, human trying to get rid of Crane so that he can win the hand of the heir of Sleepy Hollow, Katrina Van Tassel.

FOX changes things around a little bit for their new series, Sleepy Hollow.

In Sleepy Hollow, Ichabod Crane (Tom Mison) is an English soldier serving General George Washington in the fight against the British during the American Revolution. Washington sends Crane on a secret mission to slay a Red Coat and warns him that this war won’t only decide the fate of America, but the world as a whole. Ichabod hunts down the man and decapitates him with one fell swoop of his sword, but suffers a mortal wound from the man’s axe in the process.

Then, Ichabod rises from the grave in Sleepy Hollow, New York in the year 2013.

In 2013, we’re introduced to the other half of Sleepy Hollow’s crime-fighting crew: Abbie Mills (Nicole Beharie) and Sheriff Corbin (Clancy Brown). Well, that would be if Corbin lasted throughout the pilot. When Abbie and Corbin get a call to check out a disturbance, Corbin stumbles across the newly revived Headless Horseman. Things don’t end well.

But, that doesn’t mean we won’t be hearing more from the now-deceased sheriff. Abbie takes up the case to look for the headless man that killed Corbin (with the help of Crane, thanks to John Cho‘s character bringing him in as a suspect) and looks through Corbin’s old files on the occult to get some background on the Horseman. It seems likely that Abbie will refer to his notes and recordings on the supernatural stuff going on around Sleepy Hollow for some time.

The rest of the pilot features such fantastical action as:  a fight between a metalbending priest and the Horseman, the Horseman getting his hands on a shotgun with explosive rounds and a creepy demon uppercutting a police officer’s head almost clean off.

Can you really afford to miss out on this show? Maybe.

Sleepy Hollow was quite a bit more enjoyable than I expected it to be, but I have my reservations. Like Hannibal before it, I’m worried about television shows that are adapted from source material with a single villain. We’re introduced to the Headless Horseman in the first episode of the series, but where do we go from there? I can see a clear path stemming from the “Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse” background of the Headless Horseman, but how far can that take you? I’m not sure this series can hold up without the Horseman, but I also don’t see how they can have satisfying finales if the Horseman is the villain for the entire series.

Those are questions for another day, though. However, I do have one question for the pilot: What do those who support the Horseman have to gain from helping him? Does the evil coven believe if they help bring on the Apocalypse that they will go to a less-bad version of Hell in the end? I don’t get it, but maybe that will be explained later on too.

Either way, I’ll probably watch this series. It is simple and fun. Sure, the man-out-of-time bit is a tad old-hat, but Mison does a well enough job in the role of Ichabod Crane that I don’t mind it too much. It’s also a bit strange that Ichabod and Abbie are nearly instant allies, but I’m willing to look past the flaws and just enjoy the “fantasy mystery thriller adventure drama” FOX has provided for us.

  • Rating: “More enjoyable than I expected.”
  • Comment: Sleepy Hollow is like popcorn: fun (yet devoid of nutrition) and best enjoyed while kicking back on your couch with some friends.
  • You might like Sleepy Hollow if you like: adaptations, fantasy, people out-of-time, police procedurals with a twist, ridiculous supernatural action scenes, priests with powers

Sleepy Hollow is currently in its first season, with episodes airing on FOX at 9 PM PST on Mondays.

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About Daniel

I'm a guy who spends way too much time playing board games and watching television with his friends. View all posts by Daniel

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