Wednesday, September 18, 2013

A Hollow Experience

I've been so busy watching the final episodes of Breaking Bad that I hardly noticed the new TV season is upon us.  Exhibit A, Sleepy Hollow, the new Fox adventure/fantasy/mystery series that debuted to good numbers on Monday night.  There was a lot of action, and an interesting idea overpowered by a lot of bad ones.  Spoilers will follow.

At the heart of the show is Ichabod Crane. (The show takes a few names from Washington Irving but that's the end of the resemblance.)  A Britisher who has decided to fight for the colonists in the American Revolution, he shoots a rider and then cuts off his head shortly before dying himself.  Except he wakes up in 2013, still in Sleepy Hollow, where he picked up by local authorities, including Abbie Mills, a young police officer who'll soon be joining the FBI.

So far, so good.  It's a bit silly, but a character from long ago dealing with the present can be fun.  But this story has so much more plot--way too much, in fact.  We've got Abbie's partner, played by Clancy Brown, who--in a move much beloved by showrunners these days--is killed early on.  Beheaded, in fact. Turns out he's been researching odd cases in Sleepy Hollow and elsewhere for years, and Abbie discovers his work and follows those clues--including a weird incident that happened to Abbie and her sister when they were young, which drove her sister nuts. Then there's a local priest who seems to have been around back in Revolutionary days, who knows what's going on but is beheaded as well.  Then there's another officer, played by John Cho, who turns out to be aware of what's going on--even in league, perhaps, with the bad guys. He's captured by the cops at the end of the show and before he can be interrogated he is--you guessed it--killed.

As to the main bad guy, we've got, for all you Irving fans, the headless horseman.  But, unlike WI's original, in this case he's one of the four horseman of the apocalypse--Death, the be exact. His blood has mingled with Crane's and so they both awoke.  As Death tries to get his head back, and bring together the other horseman, on the side of good we have Katrina Crane, Ichabod's girl in the 1700s who was actually a witch (a good one) who put the spell on Ichabod so he's still around.  So is she, though only in some dream world until he can get her out.

In fact, there's been a long battle going on between the forces of good and evil, and now Ichabod and Abbie (who sticks around--no FBI for her) are caught in the middle of it.  In fact, the show promises to be about how they and their side try to prevent the Apocalypse.

This seems pretty dopey, and, as a main plot, oppressive.  I suppose it would be silly to raise Ichabod Crane from the dead just so he could help the local cops solve crimes--I mean this isn't a Saturday morning cartoon from the 70s.  But a huge fantasy where the writers can make up any rules they want doesn't thrill me, even if the fate of the world is at stake.

I thought Tom Mison as Crane was good and Nicole Beharie as Abbie passable, but even if this shows looks like a hit, I'm not sure I want to take this trip.


Anonymous Denver Guy said...

We watched the pilot with cautious optimism, and liked the first half hour. We enjoy Grimm (and I'm an old Buffy fan) so I like supernatural stories mixed with historical flashbacks and conspiracies ranging over the millenia.

But the makers of SH should have watched Grimm. They crammed so much into one hour, I feel like there's hardly a reason to keep watching. I know who's bad, who's good and of course, in general, I know who will win. Grimm has done a great job of diclosing their puzzle slowly, with twists and turns and false leads. I suppose this was the lesson of Lost too, though I haven't watched that yet. It was a model created, I think bvy Twoin Peaks - my first love in the genre.

So we'll watch episode two, just to see if it improves. But with Tomorrow People and Dracula still to air, I don't have room but for maybe one new mystery/drama.

8:12 AM, September 18, 2013  
Anonymous Denver Guy said...

P.S. What's your take on Brooklyn 9-9?

8:12 AM, September 18, 2013  
Blogger LAGuy said...

I agree they told too much, but I suppose they figured let's cram as much into the pilot to really get people hooked. It's a balance--you want some mystery, but do you want fans to quit in frustration? (Right now some people are apparently mad at the lack of answers on Under The Dome--I can't say, I've stopped watching.)

In any case, my problem is I don't like the mystery itself. As I note above, it seems both silly and oppressive. Of course, I'm not the biggest fan of fantasy.

I'm not going to systematically review all the new shows, but you will see what I have to say about Brooklyn Nine-Nine tomorrow.

12:49 PM, September 18, 2013  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Always with the preventing of the apocalypse. What's wrong with a little apocalypse every now and then?

1:50 PM, September 18, 2013  
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