The new TV series I’ve gotten into this fall has been Sleepy Hollow. Initially I sat down to watch the pilot, not sure if I would really enjoy the show. I was doubtful that it would distinguish itself from the other supernatural shows and have something different. Also, how the show was going to adapt Ichabod Crane to a character an entire series can follow. Boy, was I surprised after the first episode. As the series has continued it’s found it’s grove and is really an enjoyable show.
The show must have a history consultant on it. All of the flashbacks to the revolution feel like we are stepping back in time. The clothing, behavior, down to the props all feel accurate to the time. Rather than rewriting history, the show takes well known historical figures and events and adds a slight supernatural twist. And it makes sense why the supernatural is not know. The show quickly establishes that the Revolution was fought to form America, but also there was a hidden war of Good Vs Evil. In “John Doe” it was wonderful seeing a boy from the lost Roanoke colony speaking Middle English, and it sounded like an accurate dialect. Of course the Freemasons are a part of the story, but the show has also brought in a Quaker character, and Hessian play a major part.
I am looking forward to how the show continues to adapt history. I hope Washington crossing the Delaware pops up more than just a painting in the storage room.
Non Traditional Monsters
While the show has had more traditional horned demons, it has also introduced a few “new” supernatural beings. By “new” I mean creatures that have not appeared over and over. Ro’kenhronteys, a Mohawk dream spirit, makes an appearance in “For the Triumph of Evil”. While he plays the role of a more traditional Sandman character, the details of the spirit and the way it’s depicted is not something I’ve seen on TV before. We seen glimpses of other non-traditional demons and monsters.
The horsemen also get a new depiction. Death appears as a Hessian, Pestilence as a Samurai, and the final two are a Knight and a hooded figure. The most recent episode provided back story to why Death is a Hessian. I am so looking forward to the back story on Pestilence and the other two horsemen.
All of the supernatural characters are wonderfully imagined. Whether it is a witch rising from the grave, a demon, or a horseman. The character design of the show is stunning. Each creature has a horrifying elegance, like nightmares come to life.
What could have been a very straight forward, new creature a week, series has surprised me with the plot twists. The overarching story has driven almost every episode. So far “John Doe” is the only episode that does not add significantly to the overall plot. The fifth episode, it was a good time take a breather from Death and remind the audience there are other Horsemen trying to rise.
When the backstory of Death was revealed, the hairs on my arms raised as I realized the twist seconds before it was confirmed onscreen. I did not see that twist coming.
The writers have done an excellent job with how the characters are coping with the supernatural that has been thrust into their world. And the actors all add to that sense in their portrayal on screen. We see almost every character struggle with accepting that demons are real. Many of the characters don’t initially accept it as supernatural, rather they struggle to rationalize what they have seen.
Often it bothers me how quickly characters accept they are dealing with supernatural threats when previously they were non-believers. Or when it is unclear why the rest of the world of the show does not already know about the supernatural. Sleepy Hollow deals with this second issue by making it clear that this has been a battle that has been happening in the shadows for centuries. Demons can manipulate the world, including recordings, to erase their presence. Hence why the “normal” citizens of the series has no idea demons are battling to bring about the end of days.
The show does have a lot of just fun moments. Social commentary is hidden in a lot of Ichabod’s assessments of modern life. “Paying for water” and “taxes on baked goods” are comments he makes, alluding to the fact that the Revolution started over issues such as taxes we now accept as normal life. As the audience, we get to smile along with Abby as she teaches Ichabod about technology and fist bumps. Even the Horsemen get moments of fun. The Headless Horseman beheads everything in his path, even inanimate objects.
Abby and Ichabod’s relationship is very entertaining. They play off each other well. They get on each others nerves, push each others buttons, but still rely and trust each other. We are watching them become good friends. My only hope is that they don’t try and make it into a romantic relationship. So far the show does not seem to lean that way. With the reoccurring appearances of Ichabod’s wife, and his devotion to her, the writers have established a clear reason for Ichabod to not get involved romantically.
Nods to the Story
Retelling typical Supernatural Stories