I’m hatewatching Sleepy Hollow. I wanted to like it. Really, I did. It’s got many elements that I normally find enjoyable. It tells a story of a secret war between good and evil which took place during the American Revolution. Washington, Franklin, Adams, Jefferson and, yes, Ichabod Crane were all involved. According to this show the war between evil (personified by the demon Moloch) and the American Founding Fathers, not freedom from the tyranny of King George, was the true reason for the Revolution. This should be an easy sell to me given my love both legend / myth stories and of Dan Brown style conspiracy stories. In fact, I’m probably this story’s exact target.
So why do I hate it?
First, I think they tried to do too much. The first season crammed together a number of legends / myths / secret societies / stories in such a way that it felt like they were being boiled in a cauldron “Take every idea we can think of and put it in the plot!” style. They include (but are not limited to):
Ichabod Crane and the Headless Horseman
- The Four Horseman of the Apocalypse
- The myth of the “Sin Eater”
- The mysterious bible of George Washington
- Ghenna / Purgatory
- The Sandman
- That ever-present boogeyman, The Freemasons
Secondly, the plot details are so convoluted that – as I’m writing this – I can barely describe them. The Headless Horseman is Cranes wife’s former suitor – and he’s also Death – one of the Four Horseman of the Apocalypse. Crane’s wife Katrina is a witch who’s trapped in Purgatory. His son is a Sin Eater (Google it) who pretended to help the side of good but was secretly the Horseman of War. As children, the cop who helps Crane (Abbie Mills) along with her sister Jenny saw the demon Moloch. Coincidentally, the exact same demon that the Revolution was secretly fought to stop! This drove Jenny insane while Abbie repressed the memory – until Crane helped her remember it. Conveniently, Crane is a genius with a photographic memory which allows him to instantly recall any anciently arcane detail.
If it sounds confusing that’s because it is.
Thirdly, the “man-out-of-time” jokes. EVERY. SINGLE. EPISODE. They don’t go 5 minutes without reminding the viewer that Crane doesn’t know anything about the modern world. Cell phones, cars, guns, the internet, modern traditions (i.e. Making a wish while blowing out a birthday candle)…that Crane doesn’t understand any of it. Probably 25% of the dialog is dedicated to these jokes. Abbie says something modern (“It’s all about the Benjamins”) which Crane doesn’t get. She explains it and Crane disdainfully responds in his “My era was better because…” way. I’d say those jokes are old but it might encourage the writers…
Lastly, but far from leastly, as Season 2 begins Crane has been in modern times for quite some time yet he’s still wearing his 1776 attire. Did he come back with a suitcase full of clothes? Does he wash them every night? Are his clothes dry clean only? HOW ABOUT GETTING HIM SOME MODERN CLOTHES?
I have no issue with the actors or the setting. Mison (Crane) and Beharie (Mills) play off each other well and make an enjoyable odd couple. They both do a more-than-credible job with the subject matter and scripts they’re given. The show’s setting, autumn in Sleepy Hollow New York, makes for a perfectly safe-yet-creepy backdrop. This shows problems begin and end with the writers. They’ve created such a ridiculously complex and unbelievable plot that it’s hard to enjoy the show
I’ll continue to watch this show as changing my DVR recording preferences requires more occult knowledge than opening the gateway to Purgatory….but I won’t like it.
3/10 – Irritating anachronisms, played out jokes, and a convoluted plot render this show barely watchable. There has to be something better you can do with your time.