Monday, September 16, 2013

REVIEW: 'Sleepy Hollow' is Completely Crazy and Yet Immensely Entertaining and Captivating in its Lunacy

FOX's Sleepy Hollow - 1.01 Pilot

After being resurrected and pulled through time, Ichabod Crane finds himself in modern-day Sleepy Hollow, where he quickly realizes that evil has awoken with him. When the Sheriff is killed by the infamous Headless Horseman, Ichabod forms an unlikely bond with Detective Abbie Mills, a young cop who has her own childhood supernatural experiences. Together, the two embark on a mission to stop evil and uncover mysteries dating back to the founding of our country.

The only way to describe FOX's new drama Sleepy Hollow is that it is completely bonkers. Within the first two minutes, we are on the battlefields of the Revolutionary War watching Ichabod Crane chop the head off of another soldier. And throughout the rest of the pilot, the series adds in conspiracies, witches, supernatural visions and the pending apocalypse to its mythology. By the time the hour gets to Ichabod's wife Katrina explaining to him in a vision what he needs to do, you either completely buy in to the lunacy or you've already changed the channel. And those finale minutes just become one of the craziest and most insane things on TV this year.

In my case, this pilot absolutely sold me on its craziness. Many shows have tried to create crazy-based premises. And many have failed as they largely were reduced to eye-roll inducing messes. Sleepy Hollow works so well - at least initially - because of its execution. It's also helpful that the show is simply unapologetic of just how crazy it wants to be. Pilot writers Alex Kurtzman, Roberto Orci, Phillip Iscove and Len Wiseman have a clear idea of how to take the story of Sleepy Hollow and turn it into a supernatural conspiracy thriller that could have legs as a series. Wiseman's direction of the pilot keeps things moving at a brisk pace. And finally, the two leads are simply well cast and captivating in their roles. They sell these lines with such conviction. The show could go wrong in so many ways but Tom Mison and Nicole Beharie ground the series.

But with all the complex mythology, the show does itself a huge favor and doesn't take itself too seriously. The show has some levity and some humor. Those moments give the show self-awareness and give me even more hope that this tale is in good hands with Kurtzman and Orci at the helm.

My largest concern with Sleepy Hollow is how in the world are the series creators going to maintain this level of utter lunacy while keeping it entertaining and not completely falling off the wagon. The pilot was very enjoyable to watch but how will the series be able to keep this up consistently for 13 weeks - or in best-case scenario seven years! 

Some more thoughts:
  • Did you buy into all the craziness?
  • How well do you think John Cho and Clancy Brown were used here? They were the most recognizable faces in the pilot and very pivotal to the mythology but also didn't have the biggest amount of screentime.
  • I largely try to avoid discussing promos for next week's episode but the what's to come teaser was just as crazy as I hope the series will be.
  • But honestly, how crazier can the show get than the Headless Horseman with a machine gun?