By Ed Sum (The Supernatural Tempest)
CW’s Supernatural and NBC’s Grimm faces stiff competition when facing off against the forces of chaos. Fox TV’s Sleepy Hollow is successful in creating a melodramatic product and it one-ups the competing products by creating a wonderful undercurrent of terror. When this series features witches, immortals, ghosts, hobgoblins and demons, the Kurgan from Highlander the movie will have something to say about it in a series of flashbacks that may persist throughout this series run.
Clancy Brown has a role as Sheriff August Corbin, who is the first to encounter the Headless Horseman in the modern day. But little does he know that the thespian ideologies from secret societies may well be at the core of taking over the world. Corbin was in the middle of investigating this global conspiracy when he finally loses his head.
When the hero of this series is actually Ichabod Crane (nicely played by Tom Mison), both he and Brown may share in the duty of revealing a few masonic secrets to the 21st century. Even though Brown’s appearances will become less frequent as the story develops, that is okay. Thankfully, Brown’s character will return as a guide in the occasional episode and continue mentoring to Abbie Mills (Nicole Beharie), the heroine of this series. She is a great role model for this series’ female viewership and very attractive to draw male viewers in. And for long time cartoon fans, she can be likened to Elisa Masa from Gargoyles. Both characters are headstrong cops who have to deal with impossible situations.
Both officers will certainly challenge the Headless Horseman along with Crane. But when they are paired together, perhaps they will become a force that not even the Headless Horseman can reckon with. Creators/writers Alex Kurtzman, Roberto Orci, Phillip Iscove and Len Wiseman introduced him with a Rip Van Winkle effect. He died back in the 18th century during a squirmish with the English. He came back to life at the same time the Hessian (the horseman) was resurrected.
And for viewers who have seen the first block of episodes, they will no doubt return to find out what’s next in store in the quiet town of Sleepy Hollow. If the answers revealed in the fourth episode, “The Lesser Key of Solomon,” are any indication, the world is in a whole lot of trouble when the gates of hell are opened! The premiere episode began with a huge bang to set up this world of Sleepy Hollow. The second one, “Blood Moon,” tries to keep up with the tempo with a tale about a condemned witch to give this series a backdrop but it feels more like a slow character exposition that defines more of Ichabod Crane’s character. By the time “”For the Triumph of Evil” rolls around, this independent tale about a Sandman figure can get the blood thumping.
The episode, “The Lesser Key of Solomon,” adds to Irving Washington’s tale by going deeper into what the Hessians are into. Apparently, they were just as into the occult as Hitler was. Fortunately this series does not make Nazi references, but the mythos being established is happening in rapid order. At least in this universe, time has no meaning, as evidenced in the latest episode, “John Doe.” This tale is interesting since writer Ernest R. Dickerson (The Wire, The Walking Dead) gives his take on what happened to the colonists who once populated Roanoke Island. Hopefully there will be more episodes to come which examines the folklore around New England. This part of the States is ripe with plenty of its own supernatural elements!
But not to be forgotten, the references this series is hinting at towards a coming Apocalypse is going to be interesting. This team of would-be heroes will have to deal with all four of the horsemen, and that’s a characteristic commonly found in many a tale ever since Revelations, Dante’s Inferno and Milton’s Paradise Lost has been published. Even those works get mentioned in the later episodes. And that’s also the reason why Sleepy Hollow feels familiar since it explores its topic seriously, much like how a scholar would.
At some point in the series, Crane and Mille will develop romantic feelings for one another. That story direction is inevitable. Although Sleepy Hollow is not a fully original concept, since its a buddy cop film at its core, at least this creative team show an understanding for the region. That is, they know they have to take the legends and lore from Colonial New England serious. Who knows, maybe the Mothman might even make an appearance. It will be interesting to see where this series will go in a few years time. CW’s Supernatural honestly needs to end by season ten, so other shows can improve upon the benchmarks established by this series. Sadly, CW’s product has gone too meta, and that has ruined this series later appeal. Without original series creator Eric Kripke at the helm as a show runner, Supernatural is feeling very different.
But if the networks can learn to play nice, maybe the Winchesters can make a cameo in other programs. To see them team up with Crane and Mills might potentially be interesting! Both series did dwell upon stopping an impending Apocalypse. But to see Nick Burkhardt from Grimm just can’t happen; Portland and Sleepy Hollow are just worlds apart.