Saturday, 25 January 2014

Sleepy Hollow Season 1

I review Fox's best new TV show of 2013, Sleepy Hollow, a supernatural/horror series, which recently climaxed at thirteen episodes, starring Tom Mison and Nicole Behari as Ichabod Crane and Abbie Mills.

I ranked Sleepy Hollow as one of the best new series of 2013 at the end of the year and I believe it is fully justified in being up there with the likes of Orphan Black, House of Cards, Peaky Blinders and The Blacklist. It's just a great piece of TV entertainment that blends action, conspiracy thriller, horror and even odd moments of comedy together pretty well with a great overarching mystery that keeps the show very entertaining to watch. It's fast moving and with the thirteen episodes that we have on offer there never feels like any episode that's a waste of time - despite the occasional slip into monster of the week formula that plagues most shows in its early seasons.

Tom Mison's Ichabod Crane is a turncoat in the Revolutionary War, fighting alongside the Americans after abandoning the British. This leads Crane to a direct confrontation with a British Mercenary whilst on a mission for George Washington, where he and the Mercenary are wounded in mortal combat. Crane wakes up several hundred years in the present day - in a town named Sleepy Hollow. It's a modern day take on The Legend of Sleepy Hollow and sees Crane teaming up with Nicole Behari's Abbie Mills, a Police Officer with a buried past, as they work together to stop the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse including the return of the Mercenary, who is essentially Death. The premise alone is what makes Sleepy Hollow very risky for mainstream TV audience - but as it's been renewed for a second season people who are catching up on the series do not have to worry about losing another awesome show on FOX when they canned Firefly too early.

Ichabod Crane prepares to confront Death on the Battlefields of the Revolutionary War
The show's cast is pretty well chosen. Our window into the supernatural world, Nicole Behari's Abbie Mills, is a kickass character with some great chemistry with Mison's Ichabod Crane. In fact, the chemistry between Behari and Mison is probably the main reason that most people will stick around watching this show - they are incredibly strong lead actors and work extremely well together. The supporting cast are equally great as well and there aren't any poorly casted recurring actors/actresses in the whole show - something that really enhances the overall feel of the show and when the plotlines may tread into predictable monster of the week storylines, you can always count the lead actors to keep you entertained. Orlando Jones plays Captain Irving and is Ichabod and Abbie's main ally in the Police - his name also being a nod to the creator of the original series, and he undergoes great character development in the show and is one of the more awesome parts of it. One of the many highlights that Jones has in the show is actually being the first officer in a horror TV show to actually call for backup before entering a hostile and not end up killed - something that works really well in the episode that it features.

As well as Behari, Jones and Mison, there are several other actors who play a key role in Sleepy Hollow. Katie Winter is unfortunately reduced to a damsel in distress for most of the series as Ichabod Crane's wife, but then there isn't much Katrina can do when she's trapped in Purgatory. Lyndie Greenwood also puts on a strong performance as Abbie's sister, Jenny Mills - whose character arc is great to watch as we learn that the sisters have a hidden past with a subplot that is explored a lot over the show as it continues. Two other major standouts  who don't crop up every episode unlike the majority of the actors who I've already mentioned are Clancy Brown as Abbie's mentor Augustus Corbin, and the fantastic John Noble as Henry Parish, the Sin Eater, who gets a fantastic role in the show and delivers some of the greatest moments.

Abbie introduces Ichabod to a modern-day baseball game.
For the most part, Sleepy Hollow is a lot of fun, and I think that's the best word to describe this series. There are a few problems that can be expected from a show such as this but one of the best parts is that the overall storyline never is predictable (although the monster of the week episodes often are) and the cliffhanger is quite possibly one of the most memorable season finale cliffhangers that I have ever seen - putting the Cranes, the Mills and Irving in a situation that looks as impossible to get out of as Doctor Who's Season 5 episode The Pandorica Opens - however the only difference here is that it is even more challenging due to the lack of the Doctor involved. It certainly makes the wait for Season 2 seem even longer and the decision to keep the show at 13 episodes as opposed to 20-odd really paid off, as it allowed for concise and quality storytelling even if most monster of the week episodes are forgettable.

Witty, funny and incredibly exciting with some great moments of horror in the entire series, Sleepy Hollow should be you must watch fantasy series from 2013. In fact, it's probably the best new Fantasy series that I've seen this year - and is a modernization of a classic that actually works thanks to some great casting choices and a great overall plot, with a memorable cliffhanger to boot. You can certainly count me in for Season 2 and I'm really looking forward to seeing where this show goes.


1 comment:

  1. What impressed me from the first episode - besides the giddy sight of Clancy Brown being decapitated within the first 10 minutes since THERE CAN BE ONLY ONE, CLANCY - is the courage it shows time and again to just throw everything out there. There's a real go-for-broke vibe that is so exciting in amidst the watered-down, demographic-driven stuff that the networks churn out. The passion for what they're creating comes out at every level. I find it inspiring in addition to being so, so much fun.