TV Review: The Headless Horseman is the True Star of ‘Sleepy Hollow’

Last night, Fox premiered its take on the classic tale of “Sleepy Hollow.” You may recall Washington Irving’s story, where Ichabod Crane is a timid school teacher in a town terrorized by the Headless Horseman. In this updated version, Crane is a gun-toting and sword-wielding soldier in the Revolutionary War, on a mission to help George Washington defeat evil itself. At this point, I should probably stress that the show is only loosely based on the literary classic.

Anyway, Crane loses consciousness after decapitating the Horseman, who sports a British redcoat. He wakes up 250 years later in a cave by present-day Sleepy Hollow, a small New York village reeling from a series of unsolved murders. After wandering the city in a daze, he is stopped and arrested by Andy Brooks (John Cho) as a suspect for the murder of Sheriff Corbin (August Brown). Corbin was beheaded by the Headless Horseman while investigating a disturbance at a stable.

Detective Abbie Mills (Nicole Beharie) is Corbin’s partner, due for a transfer to Quantico in a week. She saw the Headless Horseman but does not want to be written off by her colleagues as crazy. Nonetheless, she is drawn to Crane’s story and his knowledge of the Horseman. She breaks a few rules to try to keep Crane out of the asylum so that she can get to the bottom of the attacks. Unfortunately, she faces stern warnings from her boss, Irving (an obvious reference to author Washington Irving). In addition, Crane doesn’t start off on Mills’ good side with his bewilderment at trouser-clad women and the emancipation of slaves.

The plot becomes even more bizarre as the Headless Horseman is connected to witches and excerpts from Revelation. Apparently, he is not the only horseman posing a threat to our world. However, this is probably a welcome bit of information for viewers, as the Headless Horseman is the true star of the show. He dominates the action scenes with his ax and red-eyed white steed. In his best stunt yet, we see him through the eyes of one decapitated victim: be prepared for your descent to the ground and a sideways view of Death and his knee-length boots. Things can only get more interesting with additional demonic riders.

Overall, the first episode of “Sleepy Hollow” may make you feel like you are losing your head. Ironically, the Headless Horseman breaks this bizarre atmosphere with what he likes to do best. Save yourself some time and wait for the DVDs so you can skip the madness and watch the Headless Horseman highlights. Or better yet, keep in mind that over 30 new shows are coming out this fall; one of them is sure to be better than “Sleepy Hollow.”

“Sleepy Hollow” airs Monday evenings on Fox at 9|8c.

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