Sleepy Hollow Season 1 Episode 1: Pilot

Fox’s Sleepy Hollow was pitched as a twenty-first century update on Washington Irving’s early-nineteenth century short story, and looks like The Following meets National Treasure, only if Sean Bean was missing a few pounds above the neck. Did this story’s new origin story pan out?

Title card: Hudson Valley, New York1, 1781. Redcoats and bluecoats fire at one another from behind trees with wanton disregard for personal safety. A Continental officer on horseback pulls up at a cannon strike and tries to throw his ride into reverse, with mixed results. This is why you should only drive German horses; they’re much more responsive.

A dashingly handsome man with no hat fires a rifle at the British, then switches to pistol because none of the firearms of the time had more than two shots in them and watching people reload for an hour wouldn’t fly on PBS, let alone the Big and Bold Fox. Off he runs, checking… the pulses of fallen redcoats? Oh he’s looking at their hands for some reason. I’m sure it will be explained soon.2

“Craaaaaaaaaannnne!” bellows another insurrectionist against the Crown, pointing over the handsome man’s shoulder and simultaneously helping us understand that this is our protagonist, Ichabod Crane. Ichabod looks back intently and sees an actually pretty damn terrifying soldier on horseback (a very white horse, please note) armed with a fraking battle axe. He advances, thankfully in slow motion, allowing Ichabod to get off a shot with his pistol. A direct hit! Problem solved! The Hessian3 falls like a rock to the ground.

  1. Full disclosure that I was in the bag for this show before I knew anything beyond the title. I grew up in Tarrytown, NY, went to school at Sleepy Hollow MS (the MS/HS mascot is, in fact, the Headless Horsemen. Take that, Mamaroneck Tigers!) and get a goofy grin when a L&O episode travels to an exotic locale like Rye or the Taconic State Parkway. Growing up in the Historic Hudson Valley (TM) I also got a healthy dose of Revolutionary War tales and interest (Tarrytown still houses Patriots Park, approximating the site of the capture of Major Andre by three farmers led by the towering (literally – 6’6″ I think, back in the late 1700s) John Paulding, which led to the discovery of the traitor Benedict Arnold. I typed that from memory.) I’m fully cognizant that what I’m about to watch is fictionalized and based-on to all get-out, but you should expect both shouts of glee at things/place I know, and mutterings of ‘The real church looks nothing like that…’. This is also how I sat through the Johnny Depp movie, but with more popcorn.  
  2. My motto for this show is ‘I’m sure it will be explained!’ doubtless with deeper and deeper tones of pitiful hopefulness as the months wear on.  
  3. In most tellings of the original legend, the Horseman was a Hessian soldier, a German mercenary fighting alongside the British, who had his head taken off by a rogue cannonball (the worst kind of cannonball, incidentally). I don’t know if the show is keeping with that ethnography, but who else than a German would wear a black mask with his red coat onto the battlefield. Eh? No? All right then.  

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