Washington Irving’s The Legend of Sleepy Hollow has had many incarnations from a Disney cartoon staring the singing talents of Bing Crosby to a quirky Tim Burton movie. The new Fox television series is a very different take on the classic American tale.
There isn’t much resemblance between the short story and the series. A lot of creative liberty was taken with the concept – something that no doubt would be necessary to turn a small tale into a complete series.
All that creativity paid off.
The show begins back in 1781 during a battle in the Revolutionary War. Ichabod Crane (Tom Mison) and the Horseman are a part of this battle. The Horseman (Richard Cetrone) has his face covered by a dark mask and he bares the symbol of a bow branded on his hand. Ichabod shoots the Horseman and when that doesn’t kill him, he lops off his head as, “beheading him seems the next logical step.”
The scene is then quickly cut to modern day with Ichabod climbing out of a grave which has been hidden at the bottom of a cave. Once above ground, he quickly discovers some pavement and, not knowing any better, stands in the middle of a road and nearly gets hit by trafﬁc.
Ichabod isn’t the only one who has risen. When Sheriff August Corbin (Clancy Brown) and Lt. Abbie Mills (Nicole Beharie) are called to investigate a disturbance at a farm, they ﬁnd the Headless Horseman has decapitated the owner. The Horseman kills Sheriff Corbin before riding off on a white horse with glowing red eyes.
As Abbie radios for help, fellow police ofﬁcer Andy Dunn (John Cho) almost runs down Ichabod and arrests him as the suspect. Back at the station, Abbie advises that Ichabod was not the one who killed Sheriff Corbin. Ichabod asks if the murderer carried a broad ax and if he had a bow on his hand. Abbie wants to interrogate further due to his familiarity with the Headless Horseman, but is ordered by Captain Frank Irving (Orlando Jones) to bring Ichabod to a mental institution.
Instead, Abbie takes Ichabod to the cave to investigate his grave. There they ﬁnd a bible with a passage from Revelations marked, “And there before me stood a white horse and his rider held a bow and his name was Death and in a voice like thunder said ‘come and see’.” Ichabod tells Abbie that the Revolutionary War was a war to save the world. General George Washington had given him a special mission to kill the Horseman.
Later that night, the Headless Horseman battles and slays Reverend Alfred Knapp (Patrick Gorman). During the ﬁght the reverend appears to have supernatural powers. “I’ll never tell you where it is. I’m prepared to die!” the priest exclaims before his beheading.
After arriving on the crime scene, in a perhaps a nod to The Crow, Ichabod follows a hawk to the grave stone of his wife Katrina (Katia Winter). The grave stone states she was burned for witchcraft.
Abbie believes Ichabod’s story but she can’t explain it so she takes him to an asylum. While there, she tells Ichabod that when she was in high school, something happened while walking through the forest with her sister Jennie. They saw four white trees and heard a strange voice. They couldn’t see very clearly who the voice was coming from and they blacked out. Jennie went mad as a result of the incident.
While looking through Sheriff Corbin’s ofﬁce, Abbie ﬁnds a locked ﬁle cabinet full of ﬁles regarding strange occurrences in Sleepy Hollow involving the occult. He believed there is a war between good and evil covens. On a recording, Sheriff Corbin mentions what happened to Abby in the forest and states that the white trees are the four horses of the apocalypse and that the demon was sent here to raise them.
Ichabod’s wife Katrina belonged to the good coven and she is the one responsible for his Rip Van Winkle slumber. In the form of a dream, Katrina explains that a demon is trying to awaken the four horsemen in order to bring on the apocalypse and that horseman is looking for his skull. She also advises that daylight is the horseman’s weakness. She asks Ichabod to free her and begs him to wake up as a demon reaches for him.
He wakens in the asylum where he is about to be sedated. Abby shows up in time and they leave to in search of the skull. Abbie enlists Andy’s help, telling him that she knows the head is at the church. Andy reluctantly agrees to assist. Unknown to Abbie though, Andy is part of the evil coven and he leads the Horseman to where his skull his buried.
Now equipped with some modern weaponry, the Horseman tracks Ichabod to the church graveyard and openings ﬁre on him in a scene that is reminiscent of The Terminator. As the sun rises, the Horseman retreats leaving his skull with Abbie and Ichabod.
Back at the police station, a now incarcerated Andy is asking to speak to Ichabod and Abbie. They arrive at Andy’s jail cell just as a demon kills him retreats into a mirror. The Rolling Stones song “Sympathy for the Devil” plays are the credits start.
Although it is revealed that Ichabod Crane was a professor of history, he is far from the frightened school teacher I normally associated with the character. Mison manages to portray Ichabod as very likable and charming. Though the fact that Abbie is an African American woman and police ofﬁcer causes some light awkward tension due to his 1700’s mindset, it is clear that he quickly develops an fondness for her.
His lack of knowledge regarding the 21st century leads to some good comedic moments. “That building used to be livery stables,” he tells Abbie in one scene. “Now it’s a Starbucks,” she responds.
Abbie Mills has a good head on her shoulders (no pun intended). She is tough but not in an unrealistic way. I feel that she is a good person although with a tragic past. Ichabod believes that Abbie and he are fated to stop the apocalypse. I can see why he has that impression.
Jones works well in the role of Captain Frank Irving. While he mostly appeared to be a voice of voice of reason, there was a hint that he may know more than what he lets on. I suspect maybe he is connected to one of the coven though I’m not certain which one yet.
Sleepy Hollow is like Halloween in a television format. I was very entertained by its ﬁrst episode. Production wise, it felt more like a movie than a television show. I think Fox has a new hit series.
What did you think of the season premiere? Will you be tuning in next week? Hit the comments and share your thoughts with us!