New horror series has historical mistakes that take the edge off of scary, premiering tonight, September 16th at 9pm *** Three Stars
By Anne Louise Bannon
HOLLYWOOD, CA (Gosh!TV) 2013/9/16 – The basic premise behind Fox’s Sleepy Hollow is that Ichabod Crane (Tom Miston) and The Headless Horseman are transported 250 years into the future, where Crane must join forces with cop Abby Mills (Nicole Beharie) to keep the Horseman from finding his skull and bringing about the End of the World.
That premise could have made a scary show, despite playing fast and loose with historical fact and the biblical Book of Revelations. Bringing Revelations into the picture could be very scary. Alas, the result is, well, a lot less than scary. The gaffes are so many and so distracting. Maybe Sleepy Hollow should have been a comedy?
Unlike Washington Irving’s short story, in which it is strongly implied that the creature that chased poor Ichabod Crane was actually his rival in romance Brom Bones, this Crane actually beheads the unusually tough to kill Red-Coat before the two are magically sent two hundred and fifty years into the future to present day. The Horseman is actually the first of the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse and Crane is the Witness sent to stop him, or some such, and Abby is the Second Witness set up to do the same. With this MacGuffin, it’s no wonder if anyone’s confused.
Never mind the arcana behind Revelations. They just pull a few verses completely out of context. Never mind that Crane would be a lot more amazed and aghast at this new world, since in 1781, folks barely knew electricity existed and had no clue about internal combustion engines. The problem with ignoring that that is it dilutes the characterizations and story-telling.
Admittedly, a faceless silent threat could be extremely scary. It’s worked in films. However, the villain must have personality. The Horseman doesn’t. Abby has a haunted past, and Ichabod, a former Oxford Don is still connected to his wife Katrina (Katia Winter). She’s a witch who sent him and the Horseman to the future, although it’s not very clear how or why. Expect the usual cliche’s, including the older, wiser sheriff who loses his head pretty promptly and the co-worker conspiring with the enemy.
Ignoring the historical facts means that plot twists don’t make sense. The note on Katrina’s grave that she was burned as a witch could be a clue. Witches weren’t burned in America. They were drowned or hung. They were never buried in churchyards either. And folks had stopped executing witches by the early 1700s, that Age of Enlightenment thing.
Historians may be very scared by Sleepy Hollow, but not the rest of us.