TV Recap: “Sleepy Hollow” S01 E01 “Pilot”

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  • Air Date: 9/16/2013
  • Written By: Phillip Iscove, Alex Kurtzman, Roberto Orci
  • Directed By: Len Wiseman
  • Starring: Tom Mison, Nicole Beharie, Orlando Jones, Katia Winter, Richard Cetrone
  • Guest Stars: Clancy Brown, John Cho, Patrick Gorman

TV Recap: “Sleepy Hollow” S01 E01 “Pilot”

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When I first heard about a modern day pilot involving Washington Irving’s classic story THE LEGEND OF SLEEPY HOLLOW from the minds behind UNDERWORLD (Len Wiseman) and STAR TREK (Roberto Orci and Alex Kurtzman), I rolled my eyes. But, as pilot season came closer and closer, my skepticism turned to optimism and excitement due to the crazy blissful nature of what FOX and company were attempting to do.

This is one of the best pilots of the fall season, an unapologetic tale of horror and fantasy, with a more than solid cast, a fabled setting, and a new and intriguing twist on a classic story.

We open in 1781 during the height of the Revolutionary War, with Ichabod Crane in battle against an imposing horseman arrives. Ichabod shoots him in the chest, but ’tis just a flesh wound, and the horseman keeps on coming, brandishing an axe. He slashes Crane in the chest, who looks on the brink of death (which would make for a short show), until he beheads his attacker. Then, darkness…

…and Crane emerges from a muddy grave, fully healed from his mortal wound. He’s in some sort of dank cave, and hobbles out into the woods, and onto a street. We get the obligatory scene where modern technology (RE: cars) nearly make mincemeat of our timeless hero. We’re still in Sleepy Hollow, but now find ourselves in modern day, when Sleepy Hollow is a not-so sleepy hamlet (population: 144,000).

Meanwhile, Lieutenant Abbie Mills (Nicole Beharie) meets with her doomed police chief, Sheriff August Corbin (Clancy Brown, of HIGHLANDER and JOHN DIES AT THE END) at a cafe, thankfully not eating donuts. They get a distress call, happen upon a barn and crime scene, with a headless victim. You know what that means, the Headless Horseman isn’t far away! It’s hardly a spoiler to say that one of the police officers lose their life and head… and it’s not the young, upstart detective Abbie.

Soon, the cops (including STAR TREK’s John Cho and EVOLUTION’s Orlando Jones, both uncharacteristically humorless) find and arrest the very British and wonderful Ichabod (Tom Mison in what seems to be perfect casting), suspecting him for the murders. While Abbie refuses to believe that the Headless Horseman exists to corroborate Ichabod’s tale, she knows he’s innocent, and soon breaks the rules and we’re enveloped in the surprisingly huge mythology of this show as they investigate.

Lieutenant Abbie Mills is somehow connected to this battle against evil, and Ichabod Crane’s fate is obviously intertwined with that of the Headless Horseman, as they both find themselves in modern day. We find out why quite early, and also get some surprising twists about some of the ancillary character’s allegiances. It’s all fairly ridiculous, but the show doesn’t take itself too seriously, and it’s all good fun. Len Wiseman showcases directorial skills in this TV show that some may find lacking from his movies, delivering some great images and visuals (the glimpses of the overarching villain is actually terrifying), and no Kate Beckinsale to be found.

SLEEPY HOLLOW has the potential to be one of the best genre shows on the air, and it’ll be interesting to witness its evolution.

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