Sleepy Hollow: Season 1
The material that can be used as a potential story from movies and television series has greatly expanded of late. For television, this means that show runners are no longer bound by the traditional themes of following the exploits of people in the noble professions of; police, lawyers and doctors. One of the most interesting to premiere in this last season appeared on the Fox network, ‘Sleepy Hollow’ is a combination of two stories from Revolutionary war times written by one of New York State’s most famous authors, Washington Irving. The stories comprising this mash up are, ‘Rip Van Winkle’ and ‘the Headless Horseman’. Although traditionally completely separate tales they do have pertinent points in common most notably their authorship in the American Revolutionary war. The fashion in which they were blended together here may seem odd but once you get into the something that is exceptionally easy to do, you will see how ideally they fit together. The man who orchestrated this merger was Alex Kurtzman, a name well-known in the science fiction community. Mr. Kurtzman has been a longtime collaborator with one of the genre’s most respected contributors, J. J. Abrams. As one of the most innovative people, known for his distinctive use of imagery, Kurtzman and Abrams have worked together in television on such notable series as ‘Alias’ and ‘Fringe’ on the cinematic side of the repertoire they are responsible for the reboot of the Star Trek franchise. Kurtzman has also worked on the latest incarnation of The Amazing Spiderman and the reimagining of the classic TV series ‘Hawaii Five -0’. What Mr. Kurtzman has accomplished with Sleepy Hollow is to utilize a popular trend for supernatural series and thankfully removing the now standard misunderstood, teen heartthrob monster with a historically based mystery that is exceptionally compelling.
The premise for the story begins 262 years prior in the year 1781 when an officer in the colonial army, Ichabod Crane (Tom Mison), is given a special assignment by Gen. George Washington (Louis Herthum). Precisely what that mission was would be just one of the many mysteries that are carefully revealed to the audience over the course of this first season. During a battle, Crane encounters a particularly infamous Hessian soldier (Richard Cetrone), was particularly feared for his technique of riding straight into the thick of battle wielding a two headed ax. The almost inevitable outcome of facing him in battle is the loss of one’s head. Dismounting for close quarter combat the horseman turns his attention to Crane only to be decapitated himself. The next thing Ichabod Crane realizes this he has awakened in the 21st century. In the small upstate town of sleepy Hollow, Sheriff August Corbin (Clancy Brown) is investigating a strange murder involving the beheading with Lieut. Abbey Mills (Nicole Beharie). As a girl Abby had a tough life with her younger sister Jenny (Lyndie Greenwood) institutionalized after they apparently saw something monstrous in the woods. Corbin and Mills do come across the man responsible and just as they realize that the murderer himself has no head he lashes out beheading the sheriff.
The period of mourning for Abby is cut short when her new boss, Captain Frank Irving (Orlando Jones) wanted to investigate a confused man dressed in colonial garb who informs and his name is Ichabod Crane. Through a series of somewhat plausible events Abby comes to believe that Ichabod was indeed from the 18th century and has somehow been hibernating for more than two and a half centuries. Although originally believed to be a mental patient they convince the captain that Crane is a historian that might be of help in investigating recent events. Admittedly, this is somewhat the weakest aspect of the series but it is presented in a quick fashion and is completely necessary in order to establish the partnership between Ichabod and Abby that over the course of the season will develop into a close friendship. Crane does have a learning curve required for him to acclimate himself to a world that such distant future that he was accustomed to. Since Abby is an African-American Crane initially assumes that she is seems rather well educated for a freed slave end of line. He uses a term for a black woman that was common and considered polite in his time but is understandably offensive Abby. Realizing he never meant to be insulting they soon move through it. Crane is an exceptionally bright and well educated man and although be bolded by much of what he has seen those managed to acclimate reasonably quickly. After reading the receipt of a breakfast that a doughnut shop he was appalled by an almost 10% tax applied to the purchase. He reminded Abby that attacks that had sparked the revolution were but 7%. These little asides to prove to be historically accurate and authentic touch of comic relief when needed most. They also diminish naturally as Crane becomes increasingly adept at processing living in the year 2013.
As the pacing for this series is amazingly well done with clues and exposition doled out in a teasingly but consistent fashion. In a manner reminiscent of ‘Fringe’ the answering of many questions only raises others but the storyline is always advanced. Replacing the strange science used in Fringe Is replaced by the supernatural but the mythology employed as the basis for how this world works remains consistent within its own context. At one point Ichabod had to be freed of a supernatural spirit plaguing him. In order to accomplish this we have to be freed of the transgression that the spirit anchored itself with. This call for the services of a Sin eater, Henry Parish as delightfully portrayed by John Noble one of the stars of Fringe, who applies to transport quirky personalities to bring what could’ve been a bit part into one crucial to unfold in the story. The actor portraying the shelf, Clancy Brown, is no stranger to either the supernatural or beheading. Brown has had major roles in both HBO’s series, ‘Carnivŕle’ and as the villainous immortal in the original ‘Highlander’ film.
What emerges is that why the fight during the Revolutionary war appeared to be superficially between the colonialist and England, there was a battle with repercussions for all of humanity being undertaken. The headless horseman turns out to be one of the four Horsemen of the Apocalypse depicted in the last book of the Bible, Revelation. His infernal mission was to bring forth the other three Horsemen and initiate the Apocalypse. Interrupted by Crane, the horseman is more determined than ever to accomplish what he set out to do so long ago. Although there is simplicity to this plot point and we have seen it in numerous incarnations throughout the history of Hollow flicks, the way that this is woven together with facts that are historically accurate or at least potentially possible, makes it more interesting than I have seen very many years. Opposing the forces of evil and the initiation of the end of days is the Masonic order of the Freemasons. It is historical fact that George Washington and many of the leadership of the rebellion and subsequent early government were indeed Freemasons. This allows Alex Kurtzman as shall run and principle writer a legitimate means to incorporate some of the mystique and symbolism of the Freemasons as integral to the story. The acting here is excellent especially the chemistry between Ms. Beharie and Mr. Mison. Even when things seem the darkest there is always time for a lighter moment between the two an example which can be made when Abby tries to get Ichabod to forgo his britches for a pair of modern genes. He wonders how subsequent generations can be sired with pants that tight. The season ends on quite a cliffhanger but gratefully Fox has renewed the series for another season.