How do you describe a thing like “Sleepy Hollow”? That is, by and large, the biggest challenge facing FOX’s new supernatural procedural, premiering Monday (Sept. 16).
Do you start off by saying it’s a modern-day retelling of the legend of Ichabod Crane and the Headless Horseman? Well, you could, except you’d be skipping over the part where Ichabod (played by Tom Mison) is distinctly not of the modern day. Do you make reference to the fact that it’s the latest FOX series to team up mismatched partners working to stop events bigger than they could possibly understand, a la “Fringe” and “The X Files”? Again, you could, but you’d better make sure you note that this time, said events are leading straight to the apocalypse.
Let’s just start here: The premiere episode of “Sleepy Hollow” presents itself as a jumble of things. Indeed, a colonial-era Ichabod Crane seemingly dies during the Revolutionary War, only to somehow wake up in a tomb in modern-day Sleepy Hollow. Just in the nick of time, it seems, because a certain headless foe is once again tormenting the foggy New England hamlet
Thrust into the center of the action, Ichabod slowly earns the trust of Detective Abbie Mills (Nicole Beharie), a young cop who has her own connection to the supernatural history of the town. There’s a heavy amount of exposition in the first hour, which, while to be expected with shows of this nature, does a bit to drag down the proceedings.
However, the world created, from the minds of Alex Kurtzman and Roberto Orci (“Fringe”), does show promise of being the sort of strange and fun place worth spending an hour in each week. There’s a lot happening, to be sure, and it can feel a bit like the creators are throwing whatever they think of at the wall to see what sticks, but the impending threat of the four horsemen of the apocalypse, the teased warring covens of witches, and the reinvented history element (George Washington turning the Revolutionary War into a battle for humanity, anyone?) — it’s just insane enough to be a good time.
Mison and Beharie, both relative unknowns, shine in their roles and show a promising chemistry, Mison especially. As the displaced-in-time Ichabod, he sells the wonder and confusion over the modern day (and why he’s there) convincingly, while Beharie’s exasperation and bemusement over this possibly insane man brings the winking humor necessary with such an insane central plot.
Where the show goes from here is anyone’s guess, and it could all fall apart in week two, but the premiere of “Sleepy Hollow” is quite fun, if you’re willing to suspend all disbelief and go for the ride.
“Sleepy Hollow” premieres Monday, Sept. 16 at 9 p.m. ET on FOX.