The whole family plopped down to watch the premiere of Sleepy Hollow the tv show, on Fox last night. Let me preface this by saying that The Legend of Sleepy Hollow is my all-time favorite ghost story. From the classic Disney animated cartoon narrated by Bing Crosby to the phenomenal retelling, Sleepy Hollow, by Tim Burton starring Johnny Depp – this original American ghost story has always held a special place in my heart.
I have to admit to being highly skeptical as I read through reviews and promotional articles of this new television series. I worried that the writing would completely bastardize and ruin the charm of the original tale. And, even though it’s fictional to begin with, I had a very hard time believing that I might accept Ichabod Crane launched into present time.
The original classic story by Washington Irving has Ichabod as the spindly schoolmaster, a bit of a snob and quite sure he was going to help educate the simple country folk of Sleepy Hollow. Ichabod is superstitious and a bit of a chicken. The Headless Horseman is a country folk tale that seemingly comes true one night while Ichabod rides home from a party, Ichabod is never heard from again and everyone is sure he was spirited away by the Headless Horseman.
The television show, set in modern day, has Ichabod awaking in a cave under a waterfall, bursting through the ground surrounded by jars with strange things in them and a bible we come to find out later was owned by George Washington.
The mythology of this approach is explained in the opening sequence as we see Ichabod in a battle set in the American Revolution where he beheads a masked mercenary in a redcoat. Later we find that Ichabod was a history professor at Oxford who later joined the colonists in their fight for freedom. He served under General George Washington himself.
It’s an interesting take on the story, having Ichabod be the cause of the horseman’s headless state. It’s a creative reinvention to bring that into modern time and then link to a current issue or concern of a supernatural variety. I’m trying not to give too many spoilers because it’s available on-demand at Fox and Hulu and, quite frankly, it’s worth a watch.
The dialogue is clever, the setting is charming, the effects are more movie quality than typical television. It feels like a real “A” game has been brought to this Sleepy Hollow venture. There were several moments that made us jump and a great mixture of action and historical charm that is a feast for the eyes. The story moves quickly, so quickly that my chief concern is whether or not they can stretch this over an entire television season/seasons.
While it’s obviously brilliant timing to start this series off in the fall and within weeks of Halloween, as a budding fan, I have to worry if the audience will still be here after Christmas and in the spring. Little support is given to new shows and networks seem constantly at the ready to cut them off at the knees and cancel them at the first sign of drop in interest. Nurturing new shows is a thing of the past as is respect for viewers/fans at home.
I’m going to keep watching Sleepy Hollow, but I’m also going to reserve becoming too attached. Hopefully I can just enjoy it as long as it lasts.by