Sleepy Hollow: Pilot Review
Pleased to meet you, Sleepy Hollow
Reviewed: by Tyler Olson
***The review below contains minor spoilers.***
There are so many new series to be excited for this year, but none, not even Agents of SHIELD, caught my interest as much as Fox's Sleepy Hollow. While the pilot episode definitely wasn't perfect, it did a great job at setting the stage for the series.
Right off the start, with the great, yet short, time in 1781, and the sudden resurrection in the present, I was pulled right into this supernatural fantasy premiere. Yes, I did say fantasy, not horror; Sleepy Hollow may be based off a scary story, but instead of making you shake under the covers it is action intensive, which makes it feel more like a new version of Supernatural.
Actually, Supernatural is probably the best comparison series Sleepy Hollow has. Both have a pair of heroes who are combing through dark, religion-based legends to save the world from the Apocalypse. Instead of fighting the demons of hell, Ichabod and Abbie are battling the four Horsemen of the Apocalypse, which did show up in CW's series, too. I doubt we are going to see these two crisscrossing the country in a car solving cases, but who knows where their 7 year pairing will take them (they might be kicking themselves in 7 years from now if it becomes a huge hit from that one).
I also love stories that make time-displaced characters hilarious. Since this was a Fox production, I expected the jokes to be watered down to allow a larger amount of viewers to understand them, but, while most were still fairly simple, they were done in a way that kept Ichabod Crane appear intelligent and classy, even though he was thrown into a world he doesn't understand.
In fact, the huge contrast of Ichabod's calm and collected attitude compared to the "professional" cops really made his character feel different and polished. Abbie's personality and attitude was also a refreshing change, but it felt as if too much information was crammed in to make her character fit with the story. Too bad most of the other characters could have easily been voiced-over cardboard cut-outs and achieved the same result. I hope those problems get fixed as the series ages.
When the Rolling Stones' "Sympathy for the Devil" first played at the beginning of the episode, I thought it was a great match for the story, but when it played again at the end, I began wondering if Black Sabbath's War Pigs may have been a better choice. Of course, this may just be a huge tip that the four horsemen may actually involve the Devil walking the Earth at some point. On the other hand, the orchestrated music was perfect. Far too many series have problems of their music either drowning out the scene, or feeling setting the scene incorrectly, so it is so refreshing when it is done right.
The special effects appear simple, yet highly effective. It is really impressive that I can't really tell what was done with computer animations and what was done with real actors and props, besides the ones which couldn't have been done any other way, of course. I doubt this will be the case for long, especially if more Horsemen start appearing.
I am disappointed that the town doesn't have that creepy Sleepy Hollow atmosphere that other versions have provided, though, but I am sure that will change as the evil grows more powerful. Hopefully, after a few episodes, instead of white picket fences and cheerful people, the town will be filled with creepy streets, silent buildings and terrified citizens.
Most of the other problems with Sleepy Hollow's premiere could have been solved if it was 2-hours instead of one; it felt as if far too much information was crammed in. Although, that is the main problem with almost every modern series premiere. Due to so many new shows trying to get your attention, the first episode needs to contain so much in order to lay out the entire plan so viewers know what to expect, and, more often than not, its pace becomes so frantic that some very important information is often missed by viewers. Still, some information should still have been left out, which would have given others more time to shine.
Abbie's discovery of the recently deceased Sheriff's files, and the attack in the jail cell seemed to happen way too suddenly, and moved at such a neck-breaking pace, which left the emotional impacts of those events hanging in a cloud of mist. The reveal about the link between Abbie and Ichabod should definitely have been left for a later episode, where it could have been used as this huge defining moment that allowed the two characters to realize what they were apart of together. Also, the unveiling of the four horseman could have also been saved for a time where it would have been more impactful.
Even with the pilot's flaws, I am still excited to see where Sleepy Hollow will take us next. I am concerned that far too many tricks were revealed in the series premiere, which could cause it to flutter into mediocrity in just a few weeks, but, thankfully, executive producers Alex Kurtzman and Roberto Orci aren't normally known for that type of problem, so it is likely that my fears are unfounded.
If you enjoy a good supernatural series that isn't afraid to take a distant journey outside of the box, Sleepy Hollow will definitely be a treat, but be sure to keep an open mind as the trip is far into the realm of fantasy.