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Scott D. Pierce: 'Sleepy Hollow' is weird, demented fun

Published September 12, 2013 8:12 am
This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2013, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.

Fox's "Sleepy Hollow" is just this side of insane.

The new series (Monday, 8 p.m., Channel 13) takes Washington Irving's tale and turns it upside down and inside out

In this iteration, Ichabod Crane (Tom Mison) was a soldier in George Washington's army. He created the Headless Horseman by beheading him — and, it turns out, the Headless Horseman is actually one of the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse.

Ichabod and the Headless Horseman slumbered for the past 250 years, until they're both awakened in the present day … and really weird things start happening.

OK, "Sleepy Hollow" is well on the other side of crazy.

But that's what makes it so darn appealing.

"We really wanted it to be a fun and entertaining show, to be honest," said executive producer Len Wiseman. The challenge was "finding the right tone and the right balance of horror and suspense and the fantasy element."

And there's the added element of Ichabod as a man out of time — a bit of "Rip Van Winkle" mixed into "Sleepy Hollow." The world has changed a lot in the 2 ½ centuries Ichabod has been asleep, and watching him deal with it is definitely amusing.

The writers didn't want to give too much away, but executive producer Mark Goffman said, "The Horseman is just the tip of the iceberg in terms of the evil that we'll get to see on the show."

We learn in the pilot that the Revolutionary War was about more than just the colonies vs. England. It was about good vs. evil, and Washington tasked Ichabod Crane — who is no milquetoast in this version — with a secret mission.

It's a mission that he must complete in the present day, with the help of his oh-so-skeptical partner, local police officer Abbie Mills (Nicole Beharie).

The Headless Horseman will get his head back — eventually. We'll see the other three Horsemen at some point.

There's some big conspiracy and maybe a monster-of-the-week vibe, sort of like "Supernatural." And you could do a whole lot worse than being as successful as "Supernatural."

"I definitely thought that it needed to be dark," said Wiseman, who directed the pilot. "But dark while being fun at the same time."

Sixteen years ago, a little show called "Buffy the Vampire Slayer" premiered. It had a dumb title, a ridiculous premise — and it turned out to be a great show.

"Sleepy Hollow" isn't a bad title. The premise is completely ridiculous. It shares the supernatural trappings of "Buffy."

You never know how a series is going to turn out after seeing just one episode. But "Sleepy Hollow" surprised me as much in 2013 as "Buffy" did in 1997.

Scott D. Pierce covers television for The Salt Lake Tribune. Email him at spierce@sltrib.com; follow him on Twitter @ScottDPierce.






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