Take Me To The Pilots '13: FOX's 'Sleepy Hollow'
[In case you've Forgotten, and as I will continue to mention each and every one of these posts that I do: This is *not* a review. Pilots change. Sometimes a lot. Often for the better. Sometimes for the worse. But they change. Actual reviews will be coming in September and perhaps October (and maybe midseason in some cases). This is, however, a brief gut reaction to not-for-air pilots. I know some people will be all "These are reviews." If you've read me, you've read my reviews and you know this isn't what they look like.]
Show:"Sleepy Hollow" (FOX)
Airs:Mondays at 9 p.m.
The Pitch:It's "New Amsterdam" meets "Zero Hour." Wait. That doesn't work. It's... "Alcatraz" meets "National Treasure"? Hmmm... "It'll do for Washington Irving what 'The Following' did for Edgar Allen Poe"? Tough pitch, this one.
Quick Response: "Sleepy Hollow" probably should have premiered this past spring when, thanks to "Zero Hour" and "Do No Harm" and "Cult," it would have looked grounded and plausible. On the bright side, for most viewers, there won't be much question as to whether they're in or out. Around two-thirds of the way through the pilot, The Headless Horseman is strutting through a 2013 church graveyard firing a pump-action shotgun at a scruffy, newly resurrected Ichabod Crane and, at that point, you've either signed on for whatever loopy-ass misadventures Roberto Orci, Alex Kurtzman and Phillip Iscove have in store, or else you've probably changed the channel to one of the 50 other things airing on Mondays at 9 p.m. This is looney tunes stuff, lifting a couple kernels from Washington Irving's American legend, adding some revisionist American history, bringing it all to the present with a heaping spoonful of magic and then dousing the whole thing in pseudo-Biblical mumbo-jumbo. Thanks to pilot director Len Wiseman, the whole gooftastic affair is delivered with so much style that pausing to ponder the substance is either futile or, more likely, idiotically misapplied. If you've seen "Shame" or her brief "Good Wife" episode (but mostly "Shame"), you know that Nicole Beharie is a heck of an actress and she gives this pilot an almost absurd amount of credibility. It's almost unfair, because with a lesser actress, you could probably pass this off as nonsense and move on. I also think I'm OK with Tom Mison as Ichabod Crane, though that may be the tremendous relief of a British actor on an American series actually getting to do his native accent. The strong backing cast -- Orlando Jones, John Cho and Clancy Brown -- serves no purpose beyond distraction, but it's all part of the sleight-of-hand necessary to pull this nonsense off. I have no clue how this show functions on a week-to-week basis, much less the rather optimistic timetable laid out within the narrative. My initial sense is that the hastily established mythology is preposterous and "Sleepy Hollow" is going to have to make up its rules as it goes along, but... The Headless Horseman shooting a pump-action shotgun in a cemetery? Nobody can accuse these guys of not committing.
Desire To Watch Again: This actually is a light time period, so light that I continue to watch "2 Broke Girls." The availability of DVR space, plus my appreciation for Nicole Beharie could be enough to make me give this one a handful of episodes to either tighten up, sustain or crash entirely. That being said, my amusement with the pilot was hesitant at best and even the slightest decline in quality in Episode 2 and I'll probably check out immediately. I fully expect that a couple million viewers will be pretty culty about this one and nobody else will watch.