September 23, 2014

SHOWBUZZDAILY Season Premiere Review: “Sleepy Hollow”



SLEEPY HOLLOW turned out to be the best news FOX would get all of last season.  Although the show’s ratings dropped somewhat from their initially remarkable heights during its 13-episode run, it remained just about the only show on FOX’s air (other than its aging animated monuments) that could be called a “hit” with a straight face.  Creatively, it found the right mix between supernatural folderol,  DaVinci Code/National Treasure-like historical underpinnings, a knowing sense of humor and some not-quite romance.

The Season 2 premiere, written by showrunner Mark Goffman and directed by Ken Olin, promised more of the same.  The hour was devoted to undoing three of the four cliffhangers from last season’s finale, which had 250-year old Ichabod Crane (Tom Mison) buried alive by the biblical Horseman of War, who had turned out to be his own duplicitous son Henry Parrish (John Noble, now a series regular).  Crane’s modern-day partner Lt. Abbie Mills (Nicole Beharie) was adrift in Purgatory, and Abbie’s ass-kicking and occasionally institutionalized sister Jenny (Lyndie Greenwood, also now a regular) was seemingly dead in a car crash.  After a clever first act that appeared to move the action forward by a full year, but was actually a hallucinatory con perpetrated by Henry, Crane quickly figured out that the sulfur in the dirt above him could be blown up with an improvised fuse to set him free, and he set out to find Benjamin Franklin’s old kite key, which conveniently enough could be used on a one-time basis to let someone out of Purgatory.  Crane managed to remove Jenny from Henry’s clutches and get Abbie out of Purgatory while keeping Moloch and his Army of the Dead imprisoned, which solved everything–except the last cliffhanger, which still has Crane’s wife Katrina (Katia Winter), herself newly freed from Purgatory but now captive of the Headless Horseman herself, who when mortal happened to be her old boyfriend Abraham van Brunt (Neil Jackson), a man who’d never forgiven Katrina or Ichabod for her leaving him.

The headless villains and you-mean-Thomas-Jefferson-practiced-witchcraft? storylines in Sleepy Hollow are fun, and the production values and CG are notably strong, but the show mostly works because of its willingness to laugh at itself (“Must… learn… to drive,” Crane vowed after his inability to shift a car into reverse prevented a clean getaway) and the chemistry between its characters.  Mison and Beharie are splendid together, and the will-they-or-won’t-they between them is blocked by one of the more intractable barriers in current television, since he’s genuinely very much in love with his wife, and she’s now alive on the same plane of existence that he is (if currently in the custody of a headless madman).  Mison’s exasperation with the mores of a modern birthday party was endearing, as was his disgust when the emotional message he’d recorded on his cell to Abbie while still in the grave didn’t record.  The addition of Noble and Greenwood, strong assets whenever they appeared last season, as regulars this time around should only strengthen the show.

Sleepy Hollow is unlikely to go back to the wide mainstream success it had with its initial episodes last season–its complicated supernatural mythology will only appeal to certain segments of the network audience–but if it can avoid repetitiveness in its plotting (it has to deliver 18 episodes this season instead of 13), it has the bones for a substantial run, with strong writing, characters and cast, and what can only be called a good head on its shoulders.


About the Author

Mitch Salem
MITCH SALEM has worked on the business side of the entertainment industry for 20 years, as a senior business affairs executive and attorney for such companies as NBC, ABC, USA, Syfy, Bravo, and BermanBraun Productions, and before that, at the NY law firm of Weil, Gotshal & Manges. During all that, he has more or less constantly been going to the movies and watching TV, and writing about both since the 1980s. His film reviews also currently appear on and In addition, he is co-writer of an episode of the television series "Felicity."