Monday, October 14, 2013

On Donut Holes and The Apocalypse: A Sleepy Hollow Review

Welcome to TV week on the Ace of Geeks Blog! This week, we're giving in to our love of the small screen.  We'll be giving our thoughts on the premieres of some new shows, and diving into our continued thoughts on some old favorites. Stay tuned. First off: Here's a review of the first two episodes of Sleepy Hollow.[Edit- Our blog is under ATTACK by foreign posts talking about such horrible things like Las Vegas. TV WEEK will fight back, unless they bring cavalry of more posts. Stay vigilant my friends

I can tell you the exact moment Sleepy Hollow won me over. Ichabod Crane, in this version a revolutionary war hero returned to life in modern times, is visited in his motel room by his partner, modern day policewoman, Lt. Abbie Mills. She offers him a sugary breakfast, to which he replies, "I do not want a donut hole. Take heed, Leftenant. I have received a vision." And while the line is hilarious, the absolute earnestness with which its delivered tells you all you need to know about this strange and very interesting show.

I had no desire to see Sleepy Hollow when it was announced at Comic-con. It looked absolutely dumb. The charm and wit that is evident in the TV show was missing in Fox's presentation, and it looked like a show that was going to take itself way to seriously. However, after endless prodding from at least three different sources I trust, I sat down to give it a shot this week. And what I saw surprised me, to say the least.

The original Sleepy Hollow story is a great example of the kind of creeping horror that was popularized by H.P. Lovecraft's Cthulu stories - the sort where the villains are unstoppable, and the heroes mere specs beneath their heels. Ichabod Crane is a terrified man being chased by an unstoppable force in the headless horseman, and there is just about nothing he can do. Updating this to a television series, especially a police procedural of all things, would seem to be an impossible task.

Instead, the producers decided to set the show in modern times, change Ichabod's origin entirely, and make him a freedom fighter from the Revolutionary War. A secret spy that is tasked by George Washington to, wait for it, prevent the rising of the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse. By making this change, the show moves from horror to closer to adventure. Now, instead of being a pants-wetting-coward, Ichabod is a capable fighter and an intelligent man. Attaching him to a layered and nuanced character who is entirely his equal in Lt. Abbie, and you have a very interesting dynamic.

But even though the show has moved away from hopeless horror, the horror is still very real. I was drifting off to sleep last night, through no fault of the show's, when the gentlemen above appeared on my screen. And suddenly, I couldn't sleep. Without spoiling too much, let me just say they brought a demon to life in a very terrifying way. The fact that they use practical effects for almost everything just gives the show that much more of a realistic feel, and will certainly make future terrors even worse.

Sleepy Hollow has set itself a time limit of seven years, and now moved into a monster of the week format. But with a deep mythology, here's hoping they can avoid the trap of simply being formulaic and give us the kind of fascinating story arcs they've already set up. Based on the pilot, I'd say they have a very good chance of doing it. Any show that can make me laugh out loud and scare the pants off me in each episode is a show worth watching.

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