The Legend of Sleepy Hollow is a short story by Washington Irving, published in 1820. The tale introduced iconic characters that have stood the test of time and become known all over the world, namely Ichabod Crane and the Headless Horseman. While in the book Irving implies that the Headless Horseman may simply be a creation of Ichabod’s rival, Brom Bones, the 2013 TV show goes on to create an entire back story not present in the original, boldly solidifying something that for almost 200 years has been left to our imagination. Is that a good thing or a bad thing? I don’t know yet. The show has only aired 4 episodes to date, but in honesty, they have impressed me more than disappointed me.
Let’s start with the fact that Ichabod Crane wakes up from a loooong sleep, not in 1790, but rather in current day Sleepy Hollow. Possibly because of a bad taste left in my mouth by Bates Motel, I immediately hated the decision to bring the story to modernity and thought they had completely ruined it. I was wrong. Ichabod is still the same character from the 18th century, same speech pattern, clothes, customs, etc…except much cooler (and I assume better looking) than as described in the book. This old world vs. new world approach makes for some chuckle-worthy situations where today’s technologies and life-styles clash with Crane’s. Sure, not the most original punchline in the world, but still entertaining.
Cheese aside, I thought the special effects were very respectful, and the show was dark and visually very engaging. The dialogue leaves a bit to be desired at times, but nothing that’s too distracting. The rendering of the Horseman, as well as the other monsters they encounter is nicely done, particularly the Sandman, who is creepy as hell. In episode one you will already find out who/what the Headless Horseman is, plus they also elaborate a bit more on the character of Katrina. For a TV show, I was actually very impressed. The plot is set in motion when Ichabod, a stranger who surfaces right as the town of Sleepy Hollow falls victim to some gruesome murders, manages to convince a local cop that he isn’t the weirdo who may be to blame, but actually someone from a different time who may have some answers. Our cop is skeptical at first, but having had a bizarre experience with the supernatural as a child (one which may even be indirectly linked to Crane), she knows that not all things are as they seem, and decides to humor Ichabod.
Obviously some suspension of disbelief is necessary on your part here; this is a fantasy horror show, after all. I hope that if you found yourself watching such a program on TV you knew that already, but just in case… All in all, if you have a free slot in your TV watching schedule, Sleepy Hollow is worthy of it. Granted, my assessment may be premature given the show is so new, but I think we should give it a chance, especially since good examples of the horror genre on TV are a rare occurrence. Now, we just need to keep our fingers crossed that Sleepy Hollow doesn’t turn into Supernatural, or some crap like that!