So I thought I’d take a break from whatever it was I was doing to talk fall TV. This week, a lot of my favorite shows have either returned or will return (such as How I Met Your Mother, Arrow, or Castle). And there are a few new shows that I’ve been salivating over for a while (Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., anyone?). But there was one that I felt somewhat compelled to check out, and that was Sleepy Hollow.
I have no idea why, truth be told. I’m not normally a big fan of the horror genre. Well, unless it’s found footage movies. Or video games starring a certain Internet-spawned monster. Or old X-Files episodes. Okay, maybe I should have said I occasionally enjoy horror stories if they fall within certain parameters.
Because of those parameters, I should be a huge fan of Sleepy Hollow. It sounded like my kind of show. Sort of an X-Files-without-the-aliens type of deal. So I recorded the premier and this past Monday’s episode and recently, I watched them back-to-back. Having seen two hours of it, I can now render my honest opinion.
Meh. Or, more specifically, meh with just a touch of eye rolling.
For those of you who didn’t catch it (and yes, there will be some minor spoilers here), the show is about Ichabod Crane, a professor/Revolutionary War soldier who beheads a British soldier. Predictably, this soldier turns out to be the Headless Horseman. In the fight, Crane is injured and he passes out. When he comes to, he’s in modern day Sleepy Hollow. Unfortunately, so is the Headless Horseman, who’s going around lopping off the noggins of various folk. A sheriff’s deputy (whose name I don’t remember even after watching two episodes of this show) winds up investigating the murders and teams up with Crane to stop the Horseman. It turns out that there are witches involved and apocalyptic stakes, because the Horseman, it turns out, is one of the…Four Horseman.
I’ll come back to this in a bit. After watching those two episodes, I think I’m done. Part of the reason why is because of the uneven writing, especially when it comes to Ichabod Crane. This is a guy who “fell asleep” in the eighteenth century and woke up in the twenty-first. At times, he appeared to be completely lost in this strange world. At others, he blended in a little too well. For example, in the second episode, we see Crane wake up in a hotel room. He’s naturally quite confused about all the modern accoutrements. To help him, there are Post-It Notes on everything. A lamp has a helpful note reminding him how to turn it on and off. The shower has numerous instructions about how to start the water (in spite of which he still does a pratfall when the water actually hits him). There’s a big note on the coffee maker instructing him how to turn it on. And so on.
Then, later in the episode, he reveals that he has an eidetic memory. Sheriff-Lady asks, “A photographic memory?” And Crane simply nods. Which begs the question: how does he know what photographic means? More puzzling to me is why he’d need all the cheat sheets in his motel room if he truly can remember everything he’s seen. Clearly, his eidetic memory failed him.
And not just in how to use modern plumbing. Apparently he never paid close attention when he was reading his Bible before he got thrown into the future. At one point, he calls the Headless Horsemen one of the Four Horseman from the Book of “Revelations.”
Again, I say, “Oy!”
It’s actually a pet peeve of mine when people make the last book of the Bible plural. And this feeds into what really disappointed me about this show. It isn’t the silliness of the Headless Horseman striding through a graveyard using a pump-action shotgun. It isn’t the stereotypical “white vs. black magic” blather. It’s not even the fact that George Washington was apparently in some sort of shadow war to prevent the apocalypse. I mean, if Honest Abe used to stake vampires, who am I to deny our First President a more active role in the supernatural?
No, what bothered me about this was the ham-fisted way the writers tried to smear a patina of piety over the whole premise by making the Headless Horsemen the rider on the pale horse. Or the way that they strongly hinted that Ichabod Crane is one of the Two Witnesses from Revelation 11. Or the way that they’ll probably continue to create a Frankenstein-esque monstrosity by cherry-picking verses out of Revelation and giving them a slightly pagan twist. It’s almost like they’re trying to use this paper-thin “exegesis” as a smoke-screen against offended Christians. “Oh, it’s not as bad as all that! See? We’re using the Bible!”
Maybe I’m being too sensitive. Maybe this just isn’t the show for me. But this is where I disembark.
But I’m curious: What shows are you watching this fall? Which ones are your faves? Which ones have let you down?