Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Sleepy Hollow Pilot Review: Put on your shades. Sleepy Hollow just got a wake up call. *UPDATED*


Okay I'm now kicking myself. I forgot a curious part of this shows concept I wanted to mention.

I haven't seen it mentioned by others (Maybe because it's so obvious.), but this show actually is melding two (at least) of Washington Irving's legendary tales. We have "The Legend of Sleepy Hollow" being played out, of course. But Ichabod Crane also takes on the role of Rip Van Winkle, from "Rip Van Winkle", in the show as well.

He goes into a strange sleep and awakens to find that time has passed, his wife gone, and the world has changed on him. Granted, for Rip it's a couple of decades, and for Ichabod it's centuries. But it seems a clear parallel.

Seeing this does make me want to further review Irving's works, to see if anything else is made use of in the series.

Hey. Any excuse to enjoy some good literature, right?


I wanted to note that at least via iTunes, you can download the pilot. They also have a few very short documentary pieces for the shows making.

Also on YouTube, their is a channel called The Corbin Files, which gives minute long videos for each episode and the threat that is being faced. It has Clancy Brown making voice recording of his characters discoveries. It's a little more Clancy Brown for your enjoyment.


I am still trying to get myself on a schedule of writing, so I can work on the different topics that interest me. ...Still got work to do on that.

But as part of some coverage of enjoyable horror, I thought I'd take a look at Sleepy Hollow...just in time for the second episode tonight (Hopefully...Oh, look, I didn't make it.). Still, like me I'm sure you've all DVR'd it and will be watching it tomorrow, so this works. (Come on! Work with me here.)

So let's see if it is worth tuning into these early episodes, and the rest of the season.

Sleepy Hollow, is a production of Sketch Films, Kurtzman Orci Paper Products, and 20 Century Fox. It shows Monday nights on FOX. And, it started last Monday, September 16.

Tarzan, conqueror of jungles
and split ends.
The show follows Ichabod Crane, the main character of the original tale told by Washington Irving. The show takes our hero from the events of the American Revolutionary Wars to modern day East Coast America. No surprises there. It's not the first time we've had characters taken from their time to ours. Continuum gives us a heroine out of time trying to set things right for the future. H.G. Wells and Jack the Ripper have made the jump to the present. Sherlock Holmes has been repeatedly moved though time to other ages, and also been modernized more than once. And in 2003 they modernized Tarzan and moved him to the "jungle of New York City". So this is old hat.

Sleepy Hollow's pilot wastes no time getting going, taking us right into battle.

Thankfully this isn't one of those battles during the Revolution that one of the Justice League lands in the middle of...or a guy in a time traveling plane.

Instead me get one Ichabod Crane. This time around he isn't a scrounging schoolteacher. Nor is he an 18th century New York City detective. This time he's a hero of the revolution, racing through a battlefield, in search of something.

"Pardon. Would you have any
wayward teenage camp counselors?"
"But of course."
And that something arrives quite soon, in the form of a horseman...Well, I'll call him a horseman. I mean, I have no idea how a 18th century British Calvaryman (or a Hessian) dresses. It's what he's called in the stories, and he is on a horse. So he's a horseman.

Also...Is Crystal Lake in the Hudson Valley? Cause this is look is really giving off a Jason Voorhees vibe. He is a supernatural, unkillable, killing machine, in a mask. (And Michael Myers to. Michael's such a crime baby.)

Oh. Never mind. I guess this will be a short series.

Ah! Geez! Guess the show must go on.
See! That is a Jason (or Michael Myers) come back. Things do not look good for Ichabod Crane.

And he takes a fatal blow. Then...

Oh! I'm torn. Do I make a Highlander joke,
or a prologue to the Lord of the Rings joke.
And Isildur swung the broken Narsil...Nah...
And that's how we met the Headless Horseman.

And also it's how Ichabod Crane dies...

But then he gets better.

And we're back.

"I swearth. I will never drink an ale Ben Franklin
passth me again!"
So Ichabod is awake/alive. He's in some muck, and in a cave surrounded by various weird objects (snakes, bird cages, Gollum, etc.). As well his gaping wound from his battle is gone (Some there are some pluses.).

In his disoriented state he wanders out of the cave, through a secret entrance, and finds himself in the woods.

He eventually finds himself in the oddest of spots.

One small step for Ichabod Crane.
One giant leap for pilotkind.

Wait. Is this another The Village scenario? Is someone
keeping a large army deep in the woods
reenacting the Revolutionary War?
Be honest. You think someone is crazy enough to do that.
Ichabod's almost hit and causes an accident, so he runs like hell into...

Sleepy Hollow. Oddly, according to Google, the population of Sleepy Hollow, New York is 9,944, as of 2011. I wonder if they are pumping up the actual village to give it a bigger population, number of landmarks, and number of locations to use in the show.

These keep showing shots of, what I assume, is Sleepy Hollow, and it seems a reasonably good size (And, yes, that sense is relative to personal experience and knowledge.)
Is this even a shot of Sleepy Hollow. I am starting to
have doubts about the veracity of this
fantasy/horror fictional series.
And with that we've established Ichabod Crane. It goes by rather quick in the show. And it grabs you as you try to figure what is coming.

Now we introduce some more characters for the series/episode (It's a show about a headless murderer, not everyone is getting out of the pilot alive.). We go to the local, where the local law enforcement are having a meal.

Hey! It's Clancy Brown. He's playing a friendly and thoughtful Sheriff...how far into this episode will he be offed?

Clancy Brown?! Damn it! I should have gone with
the Highlander joke earlier!
 We also meet his trusted lieutenant. Lieutenant Mills. She's a sharp kid, ready to head off to the FBI Academy. But the sheriff is worried about her. And wonders if she really wants to leave, or should.

(We will later learn her first name is Abbie.)

"Sheriff, you are a mentor and father figure to me, I don't...Hell!
You're going to die on me, aren't you?"
 Behind the two, a mysterious holy man watches them.

Hey! It's Richard Chamberlain...Wait. No it isn't...Nevermind.
As the sheriff and Abbie leave, the sheriff gives the priest a knowing look.

They get called out to some strange goings on at the spooky horse...place. (Damn you, words!)

"Great. And I bet it's the night some horrific murder happen here
one hundred years ago to."

And once they are there, they split up. Thumbs up!

This leads to Abbie discovering the headless body of the owner. And the sheriff to finding himself standing in a barn with a suspect with no head.

And with that...
And that's why immortals should always carry their swords.

High Ho Satan Away!
Bye Clancy Brown! Look forward to whatever genre show I see you in next.

So Abby now finds herself face to...

...Anyway, the headless horseman jumps on white steed and rides off.

She quickly finds the decapitated sheriff, and calls in for help.

This leads us back to Ichabod...somehow. And he's walking into a street in Sleepy Hollow and is promptly surrounded and arrested.

Now I don't get why he was arrested. Because his clothes look a little odd? Also it cuts to this in a way that throws me off a bit. It feels rough.

Still, it keeps the plot on track for this pilot. And it brings our main characters together.

It also allows us to start the plot line of Ichabod doesn't get the 21st century. What's this? What's that? You where pants?! ...

...Honestly, I don't know why, but it tires me. And in this show I want to explore the origins of the Headless Horseman and the forces that rose him from his grave, not get a discussion of how society has changed in the last 200 some years. It is nitpicky. And in other shows I have enjoyed it. Just here, in the pilot, it's a bit much. Maybe over the first several episodes he'll normalize a bit. (Granted, the bit where he plays with the automatic windows later is amusing.) Also, I'll note that thankfully he got arrested and taken in by car off screen, so we missed some "horseless carriage, gadzooks" scene.

"I heard Ben Franklin paid someone
10 pounds to do this to him in Paris,"
For now, he's in the police station, and strapped to a lie detector. (Some time I'll go off on how dubious these are to rely on.) And as he's finally told the year, he is more eager to help find the horseman.

Hey? What are you doing in this?
Ah! Either paying off a debt,
or doing a favor.
Also by this point we're introduced to some new characters. The cop, played by John Cho. How long will he be around, I wonder?

"Look at my twitter page.
Don't forget that name."

We also are introduced to Orlando Jones, as...someone with more authority than Abbie. I honestly didn't pick up on how this police force works. Clancy Brown was the country sheriff, and Orlando Jones is...the police chief? I don't know. Still, it's Orlando Jones.

(Also, his character's name is Frank Irving. I'll assume he's named in honor of Washington Irving for now.)

He's not playing a comedy character here, instead a more serious role. As the episode progresses, you aren't sure what his agenda is. Is he an ally? Is he a hard nose? Is he the enemy? It's not too clear.
But he does doubt the story that Ichabod tells of being a Revolutionary War spy, in the service of George Washington. Even as he describes the Headless Horseman  they all doubt him. Granted he's saying he's a time traveling spy hunting a headless immortal...They decide to play it safe and commit him.

During this he also recalls more of his "dying", with his wife at his side.

(More to learn about her, as the episode continues.)
Abbie, having seen the Headless Horseman, but not reporting his lack of a head, wants to talk to Ichabod. So she offers to drive him to the hospital. And on the way we get more of the time traveler agape at the world around him stuff.

She finally learns from him where he awoke. So they go to the cave. 

"Am I mysterious? I'm worried I'm
not mysterious."
On the way, Ichabod sees the mysterious priest from before, and recalls...

That he knows him... (Oooo. Will we spend seasons getting to the mystery of who he is?)

But they pass him by, as he looks on recognizing Ichabod as well. They finally get to the cave, and enter to search.

There Ichabod finds a book.
"Please don't be a Book of the Dead.
Please don't be a Book of the Dead..."

Ah. A bible...Better or worse?
It's a bible. And now seeing it, he remembers more from his "death". He was at the military infirmary, with his wife, when a priest placed the bible on him. The priest told his wife that they didn't have much time. In the bible, the Book of Revelations was marked.

Reading it, he realizes that the description of Death in Revelations matches that of the Headless Horseman. 

He explains to Abby that General Washington had sent him on a mission to stop the a mysterious masked horseman, that it would be critical to the safety of the world. So Ichabod thinks this all ties together. (As any good conspiracy theorist does.)

As they discuss this, the Headless Horseman rides to the church where the mysterious priest resides. The priest readies for him. And when he comes he...uses magic on him...? He tries throwing chains on the Headless Horseman  to contain him.

"Oh, my! This is The Avatar, right? I'm a chain bender"
The Headless Horseman uses his ax to slice through the chains, and approaches the priest.

But the priest tells him, that no matter what, he won't reveal where "it" is.

So he chops off his head.

Bye! I guess we won't be getting to know you.

Back to our heroes. Heading back to Sleepy Hollow, they hear about the murder of the priest, and Abbie wants to check in.

As she checks in with Orlando Jones, Ichabod receives a visitor.

"Yeah. The owls and ravens are busy,
so you better appreciate this."
A bird lands on the car and looks at him. It looks to be the same one as appeared near the show's start (It landed on the sign for Sleepy Hollow.). Ichabod, for some reason, knows to follow the bird.

And it takes him into the church's cemetery. There he finds a grave. His wife's grave.

...Burned at the stake? Pretty sure that was not legal in the 1780's.

Also he seemed a little underwhelmed by seeing her grave, or how she died, in my opinion.

When Abbie checks on him, she has had enough. She doesn't want to believe any of it. And working with Ichabod is putting her dream of joining the FBI in danger.

Be honest. This is clearer than the average
Bigfoot picture.
So she takes him to the hospital at last.

There she admits that she had had a strange experience in the woods of Sleepy Hollow as a kid. She and her sister saw a strange form by some unusual trees, and then they passed out, only to be found later along the road. No one believed them, and thought they were crazy. It broke her sister, sending her into hospitals.

She now wants to avoid going to that place in her life again. So she leaves him their to his fate.

After that, Abbie finds herself back in the sheriff's office, thinking about her choices.

As she holds a picture of his (one of her just after she joined the force), she finds a key hidden.

She begins searching the room for where it goes. She eventually finds a hidden cabinet, which the key unlocks. (I'm guessing she's assuming that the fact it's behind a picture of her, and hidden, means she was meant to find it and use it.)

Just don't look in the file marked, XXX-Files.
It's Fox Mulder's secret stash.
In cabinet she finds a large number of bizarre files. They speak to strange events happening all over the Hudson Valley, going back to the Revolution.

The strange occurrence tied to the valley extend all over the East Coast (Which makes for a promise to take the show to D.C., New York, etc.).

Amongst the files are some recordings and also a map.

In the recordings he makes mention of the events that occurred to Abbie in her youth, and how he knew she was telling the truth. Also how he wished he could tell it all to her.

He also notes learning of the war going on between good and bad witches, with the fate of the world in the balance. And that secret groups were at work. He makes clear it's a great conspiracy in action.

Then Orlando Jones pops up and tell her to go home. He gives her a suspicious look as she leaves. (Hmm.)

Meanwhile Ichabod considers his fate, and has a vision.

His wife appears to him in the mirror in his room. Then he finds himself standing in a woods with his wife.

And now beings some exposition dumping.

She explains that she is a witch. But that she's a good witch.

She explains how he was joined to the Headless Horseman when they killed each other. And that to save him she had to cast a spell on the two of them to put them in a deep sleep.

Come on! They are just trolling the Friday the 13th
movies now.
They put him in the cave to keep him safe, and sunk the Headless Horseman in the river. But they (her side) hadn't brought him back. The baddies did it.

Then, as the blurry big bad of the series (Who looks to be what Abbie saw as a kid.) approaches, she finishes up her exposition dump.

The Headless Horseman does have a weakness (Other than not liking being filled with lead.). The sun. He can't stand the light of day. ...And she's not in her grave (She's trapped in this place by the big bad.), but her grave does hold a secret. The Headless Horseman's head.

I guess the mystery of the Headless Horseman's head's hiding place is solved.

Ichabod finds himself back in the hospital, where he's being held down and about to get a shot. Are they doctor's subduing a patient? Are they baddies out to silence him? Well tha...Abbie races in and takes Ichabod out of the hospital, trying to get out before they realize she BS'ed them.

They know combine their information so they can act. They decide to race to the cemetery to get the head...Though seeing as the Headless Horseman and other baddies have no idea where it is...why the rush? ...Eh.

As she drives she shows him the map she found in the sheriff's files. He recognizes it quickly as the one he saw General Washington using when he sent him off on his mission.
Welcome to the Assassin's Creed III: Sleepy Hollow DLC
Clearly this map will be at the center of their future efforts to save the world.

While the race to the churchyard, Abbie calls John Cho. She begs him to call in some police support for the churchyard (Presumably, it's because they expect the Headless Horseman to attack them there, or because they are about to tear open a grave...and want witnesses?).

He is unsure at first, and wants her to get away from Ichabod (which he's been begging her to do the whole show), but agrees to call help in.

That's when he gets to his home and finds...
Horseman's Catchphrase:
*gurgle* *gurgle* *gurgle* *gurgle*
The horseman has pillaged John Cho's weapon's cache. And now he's all armed up.

John Cho responds to this, saying, "I know where it is." ...John Cho? Why did you break my heart?

So Ichabod and Abbie break into the grave. And out comes...

...Christopher Walken hasn't aged well.
The head! Ichabod now has the head. ...What's he going to do with it now?

Doesn't matter. The Headless Horseman arrives, and fires away at the pair.

Abbie dives behind a wall for cover and shoots. Ichabod dives back in the grave to be saf...trapped. He's trapped.

Well, the Headless Horseman walks over to Ichabod and stands over him...

Horseman's Pithy Line:
*gurgle* *gurgle* *gurgle* *gurgle*
As he's about slaughter Ichabod, Abbie opens fire, knocking the Headless Horseman back, giving Ichabod time to run for better cover, with the head in tow.

Then John Cho arrives. When Abbie approaches for more firepower and to be pissed that there aren't more cops, he tasers her. He drags her into the car, as Ichabod tries to fight the Headless Horseman.

"...And I liked Takei better to."
When John Cho puts her into the car, and gets extra creepy about protecting her, she nearly bites his thumb off and takes his gun. Handcuffing him, she races back into the fight

She fires into the Headless Horseman some more, and Ichabod gets out of the cemetery. That's when some more police arrive at the ongoing firefight in the middle of the city in the middle of the night.

These seem to fulfill a comedy sidekick quota. They make some funny comments. "Hands on your...head?" "Can he even hear us?"

Then they get shot at by the Headless Horseman.

And things look dicey, when...

Apparently, the sun is something the Headless Horseman isn't too fond of. Now where did I hear about that?

But like a bad vampire movie vampire, the Headless Horseman actual starts to smoke up little. Then he races off! ...Well the horse canters off.

And our heroes have won! ...Well, they've exposed the head, which can start the end of the world to the baddies.

But still, the cops don't think Ichabod is an insane killer now...I assume that because Orlando Jones is letting him walk around the police station freely.

But they do have John Cho, and he's got answers to their questions...


What do you mean Ted McGinley's been hired?
Well, before Abbie and Ichabod learn what's happen to John Cho (And, bye John Cho! See you in the movies.), he reveals to her that the bible has notes in it that say they are destined to team up together and save the world (Well the notes are in the show bible at least.). Also they will be working to this end for 7 years (6 seasons and a movie! Woo!).

Now they get to the cells, and find out John Cho has gone on to a better place (The next Star Trek movie. ...Yeah, it's an obvious joke!).

But in the mirror in his cell they see a troubling sight. Like with the mirror in which Ichabod found his wife, another forest landscape is playing out in the mirror in the cell. And in the back, moving away, is the same strange blurred form that both Abbie and Ichabod have already seen. It turns and smashes the mirror.

"I hope you all look forward to speculating on what I am, then eventually
 being disappointed with what the writers come up with."
And that is Sleepy Hollow.

...It's actually not that bad. There is some rough bits in the pilot, but I think it's worth checking out the second episode to see how things progress.

This episode reminds me of many shows that used to get late night syndication in the 80's and 90's. It's a bit silly. It's quite conspiratorial. Everything will revolve around the paranormal. And you've got a pair off on a quest that's landed on their shoulders.

It reminds me slightly of Friday the 13th the Series. (Which I've touched on before, and will again.)

If you want something heavy or that has a deep social commentary, this show won't be for you. If you want to follow some people chasing down an immortal killer in the thrall of a secret society of witches...You may get your money's worth.

It also moves quickly. We get Ichabod into the present efficiently. We get the Headless Horseman into play in the present well, and get our protagonist together early on (Though, as I did say, it was a bit of a jump, for the greater good of the pilot.). Some shows choose to take a very slow pace, this isn't that show, so far. We'll see how pacing is done in the second episode.

But as fast as it went, it is still a conspiracy show, which means we'll have secrets and questions to deal with. How does this show handle that?

Let's consider what we've been handed to ponder as the show ends.


  • We know, basically, what the Headless Horseman's agenda is. 
  • We know where his head is.
  • We have seen his powers at work. (He takes a licking and keeps on...beheading. He causes blades to become extremely hot, so they cauterize wounds, and make killing TV friendly. He has a magic horse...like Rainbow Brite.)
  • We know, basically, how Ichabod Crane lands in the now.
  • We know, basically, what our mysterious priest was about.
  • We know Abbie's childhood mystery does tie into the great mystery.

"Come on. I just take a bad pictures."
We don't know:

  • Who the sheriff may have been working with. (Like our mysterious priest.)
  • Where the sheriff got his artifacts.
  • Why Abbie is so destined.
  • Who don't know who brought the Headless Horseman back.
  • Does the Headless Horseman have a special horse, or does he affect whichever one he rides. ...Those glowing red eyes. (And if it is one horse, did it sit in those stables for two hundred years waiting?)
  • Where Ichabod's wife is exactly.
  • Who are the goodies and who are the baddies.
  • Who the big bad is. (Though they multiple times play Sympathy for the Devil in the show, which may allude to an answer, or not.)

Wait. Did the Headless Horseman invent...
We also don't know if the Headless Horseman will be able to live out his dream to be a pitcher for the Brooklyn Dodgers (Shh! He hasn't heard yet.).

I think they made some good choices not having the head, who acted on Ichabod, etc. as central mysteries for the show. Instead the show of a season obsessed with where the head is and what is the Headless Horseman, we just move on to who summoned him and controls him? Who is on who's side?

This looks like a show that's meant to be a fun hour, I hope future episodes live up to that idea.

Though there is one annoyance. I came upon a quote from a writer on the show that said they planned to go into the attraction between Abbie and Ichabod. ..Eh.

First. Isn't Ichabod's wife alive? Doesn't he still care about her?

Or are they planning on offing her, or turn her bad, or...something. They seem to be setting up an idea he can save, or release her from the big bad's domain. So...Let's just go to the second one...

Second. Do we really have to go there? Two people working together. If they are a cis man and cis women, they DON'T have to get together romantically. Despite what When Harry Met Sally teaches us, men and women can be friends. Yet TV writers are desperate to convince us otherwise. Why? Can't you tell a freaking story about a man and woman working together where they don't become sexually attracted to each other. It's the first season, you can't be out of other story contrivances yet. It's just so lazy.

...So that gives me some pause. But, it seems every show goes there, good and bad.

And, the show may still prove to be some fun

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