By Steve Herte
Sleepy Hollow (20th Century Fox Television, 2013) – Creators: Alex Kurtzman, Philip Iscove, Roberto Orci, Len Wiseman. Stars: Tom Mison, Nicole Beharie, Orlando Jones, Jim McKenny, Katia Winter, Jeremy Owens, Lyndie Greenwood, Clancy Brown. Mondays at 9:00 pm.
Even though deep into the story of this fascinating new twist on Washington Irving’s “The Legend of Sleepy Hollow” I’ve been promising a review since its inception. Far from the animated Walt Disney version where Ichabod Crane is a gangly, goofy coward, this Ichabod (Mison) is a handsome well-spoken soldier who fought beside George Washington (McKenny) in the revolutionary war after defecting from the English army. He meets his future wife Katrina (Winter) at a social party and they fall in love, but she’s betrothed to another. Not only that, she’s a witch with her own coven.
In a battle with the “Redcoats,” Ichabod is mortally slashed by the battleaxe of a seemingly invincible masked Hessian soldier (Owens) but with his last strength he beheads the Hessian with a might swipe of his sword. As he lay there on the battlefield Katrina casts a spell over him and later secrets his body to a burial place where no one will find him. Unfortunately, as she’s casting the spell, Ichabod’s blood is mingling with that of the headless Hessian and they become linked by blood in her spell and both awaken 250 years later just outside the town of Sleepy Hollow, New York.
Captain Frank Irving (Jones) of Sleepy Hollow (who deliberately transferred there thinking the duty would be lighter than in the big city, where he was losing touch with his family due to his constant absence) has no idea what to make of this man from the distant past or of the headless horseman that is suddenly making his life more complex. Only Lieutenant Abbie Mills (Beharie) seems to understand him and she gradually discovers that her path and Ichabod’s are linked in a terrible goal of preventing the Apocalypse.
We learn that the demon Moloch is orchestrating the Final Days through the headless horseman and has made him one of the famous biblical Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse and the character “Death.” He has imprisoned Katrina in a mid-world purgatory and shown himself to the future lieutenant and her sister Jenny (Greenwood) while in their teens, resulting in one being institutionalized in an asylum (no one believes she saw the Devil) and the other estranging herself from her sister into a life of petty crime. But when Sheriff August Corbin (Brown) gives her a fatherly talking to at a diner over apple pie, she decides to change her ways and joins the police force. She later learns after the horseman beheads the sheriff that he had a file cabinet full of strange incidents occurring around town and was secretly investigating them.
Now her fate and Ichabod’s are deeply entwined as she is forced to accept the supernatural events that are happening and the two battle witches, ghoulies, a golem, Moloch himself and of course, the headless horseman in a continuing quest for the salvation of the world from an imminent End of Days.
The tale would have made Washington Irving proud. It is more terrifying than his original and is told with subtle wit to lighten the gravity of the situations. In the beginning episode a policeman is questioning Ichabod and asks, “You fought with George Washington?” “Oh, you know him?” asks Crane. With that the policeman produces a dollar bill with the picture of Washington face up. Ichabod is as mystified at his new surroundings as the residents of Sleepy Hollow are at his presence. All of the characters are believably portrayed and well acted. The sets, costumes and special effects are very well done for a television production. The musical background accentuates the tension in each scene and the cinematography brings chills to the spine. I find myself eager to be home on Mondays to see the next installment.