Last night whilst combing through the ever expanding netflix queue, I decided to give a new show a shot. That show? Eureka, a syfy (still hate that name) series that is full of people I know from movies and other series (hello Miles Dyson) and is honestly one of the most endearing shows I’ve seen in a while. Usually a show needs a few episodes to get off its feet, two of my favorite current shows, 30 Rock and Community, both had this starting hiccup where it seems the writers don’t have the characters fully realized yet and it seems as if this world just didn’t exist before you got there, then they either stumble or hit a stride. Both of the previously mentioned shows vie for my favorite show on television titles and are highly recommended.
It’s fall premiere season, which usually means, well, not much to me. I am terrible about keeping up with television shows and usually wait for them to pop up on Netflix. However, last night I was checking Twitter and saw a few folks sharing thoughts on Sleepy Hollow. Since I saw the tweets early, I figured I’d check it out–yay, west coast time delay!
As with most re-imaginings of classic tales, Fox’s Sleepy Hollow borrows loosely from the original tale just enough to make it familiar and then does it’s own spin on it. Gone is the awkward school teacher that is Ichabod Crane, replaced by broody, handsome Ichabod. This Crane taught at Oxford, joined the British army, was dispatched to the American colonies, became sympathetic to the American revolution, switched sides, and became a spy. Slaying a masked horseman in battle, by beheading, somehow lead to him waking up in the present day–along with his old foe. I’ll admit I rolled my eyes a bit at “sexy, moody” Ichabod–there are enough paranormal shows with this type of lead–but Crane is balanced by Sleepy Hollow Police Lieutenant Abby Mills because she is pretty badass herself. She’s preparing to head to Quantico, Virginia to join the FBI when her partner, the local Sheriff, is beheaded by the headless horseman, which sends her on an intercept path with Crane. She’s all business and determined to solve the case, taking no flack from the time-lost man, or her superiors. She’s awesome.
Sleepy Hollow isn’t exactly a spanning epic like Lord of the Rings, so, how are are the writers making a television show based off a singular story? By creating their own mythology around it; which could be problematic down the line, but I’ll revisit this in a moment. Without revealing too many spoilers, there are a couple fun twists in the episode, the headless horsemen is not simply an angry spirit tormenting a small town, he’s supposed to bring about the end of the world. The episode rushes explanation, I presume to cram the initial introductions to all these concepts in from the start, but it pretty much looks like our protagonists will be fending off more than a cranky ghost in episodes to come. Dueling covens of witches, and other evil portends (e.g. demons), are hinted at. How much will they be explored? We’ll have to wait and see.
Which brings me back to a point I made earlier. Sleepy Hollow has the potential to be a fun “monster-of-the-week” show, but given the underlying mythology and religious overtones, I do worry it could end up bogging down the fun train with needless “deep” exposition and exploration of story elements no one cares about. I felt this happened with the X-Files and their on going alien colonization conspiracy story line. Instead of wrapping it up, the writers kept adding to it to drag it out, to the point where the story retconned itself. We’ll see what happens with Sleepy Hollow though. If it can manage to strike a balance between it’s heavy over-arching story and the weekly battles against evil, I think it has the makings of a fun show; perfect for unwinding after a long Monday.