If you're familiar with director Len Wiseman's fetishistic vampires versus werewolves film franchise, you'll know exactly what to expect from anything he touches: high gloss production design, lots of slow motion action and a seriously convoluted plot. And with Sleepy Hollow, he delivers exactly this.
Commencing in Hudson Valley, NY, circa 1776, we're introduced to a different sort of Ichabod Crane. This Ichabod (Tom Mison) is a badass Union soldier. We meet him in the heat of battle, facing down a masked, axe-wielding horseman. They clash, and the horseman loses his head.
That's when the plot gets wrinkly. Suddenly we're in the modern age with Crane awakening in a cave. Now a violent take on an old folktale turns into a sci-fi fish-out-of-water story.
Our secondary protagonist, Abbie Mills (Nicole Beharie), an FBI hopeful who gets sucked into staying on as sheriff of the town of Sleepy Hollow when a headless Confederate soldier starts decapitating people, meets Ichabod after her partner is killed.
Choosing to believe his crazy story, Mills enlists Crane's help in tracking down the horseman and uncovering the deeper mystery of how and why two soldiers from a bygone age arrived in the twenty-first century. Their investigation leads to a plot that pitches the series as a seven-year story full of intrigue and silly lore.
A little more comedy would help some of the ridiculous ideas go down and hopefully the comedy that does exist evolves beyond the incredulous revelations of social progress – Ichabod is shocked to meet a black female cop – it currently leans on.
Since this is a network show, Wiseman goes to great lengths to depict decapitations without actually showing them; that is until the undead killer trades in his axe for a pump action shotgun (because shell casings flying through the air in slow motion is like catnip for a man-child director).
Minor supporting appearances from John Cho and Clancy Brown don't do much to elevate the show but the presence of each is welcome. With all of the fantasy television currently airing it's unlikely that a super slick Sleepy Hollow built on an elaborate mythology is really going to find an audience.
Regardless of the fate of this show though, Nicole Beharie is a star in the making, so keep an eye out.
Sleepy Hollow premieres on Monday, September 16th, 2013 at 9:00pm on Global TV. (Fox)
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