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TV REVIEW: Sleepy Hollow S01E01 ‘Pilot’

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Sleepy Hollow S01E01 ‘Pilot’
Sleepy Hollow S01E01 ‘Pilot’

Sleepy Hollow S01E01 ‘Pilot’

Directed by Len Wiseman

Story by Roberto Orci, Alex Kurtzman, Phillip Iscove & Len Wiseman

Teleplay by Roberto Orci, Alex Kurtzman and Phillip Iscove

Catch ‘Sleepy Hollow’ on Fox, Mondays @ 2100 ET

BEWARE OF SPOILERS!

‘Sleepy Hollow’ is my first pilot viewing for the 2013-2014 TV season and I have to say it’s been a good way to get the ball rolling.

This is by far one of the more high concept pilots that we’re seeing surface on the major networks this season but in the wake of successes like ‘Fringe’ and ‘Arrow’ on mainstream channels and the unwavering success of ‘The Walking Dead’ and ‘Game of Thrones’ on cable we’re now seeing these kinds of shows filter through massively.

‘Sleepy Hollow’ comes from some of Bad Robots (not actually involved as a company here) greatest minds: Orci and Kurtzman. Two names you might know from… oh… ‘Star Trek’, ‘Transformers’ and ‘Alias’ to name but a few. Throw in Len Wiseman of ‘Underworld’ fame and you’ve got a recipe for darkly gothic drama.

‘Pilot’ doesn’t waste much time in getting to the action, we open in a flashback to the fall of the headless horseman to setup the story for those not familiar with the source material before making the massive leap to the present day.

The present day I hear you cry… yes! The crux of this show is in taking the long dead Ichabod Crane (Tom Mison) and reinventing him as a man lost in time. In terms of taking this caliber of story and reintroducing it to a modern audience the most recent success if perhaps ‘Beauty and the Beast’ on The CW which I feel fails to capture its audience by wholly updating the story.

There are some liberties taken with the original tale but I won’t spoil those here but I was very glad to see that time was taken to make sure that these changes were organic to the story being told.

Much like previous shows that have had the Orci and Kurtzman touch you can trust that there is a massive mythology that is bubbling away behind the scenes and actually for a pilot episode we get much of it in spades. My biggest question going in to the pilot was the potential longevity the show could have based on the simple tale of the headless horseman but all fears were pretty quickly allayed.

My fear coming out of the pilot? That the mythology will eventually bog the show down too much and turn viewers away. I do have faith that the writers are going to learn from the past mistakes with shows like ‘Alcatraz’ and to a degree ‘Lost’ which began to haemorrhage viewers the more complicated they became.

The script here is above average for a TV pilot, there’s well defined voices for each of the characters from the outset which is something I look for in a show that is going to succeed. The two leads – Crane and side-kick Abbie Mills (Nicole Beharie) – are strong characters and both actors carry the weight of the episode well. Crane clearly comes with a huge amount of history and will be the more interesting of the two but Mills is given a little time for backstory with enough intrigue to make sure I come back next week for more.

This is a show which is going to rely on atmospherics and special effects and both are executed well. This episode was filmed in Salisbury, North Carolina and the architecture of the town fits the story perfectly. There must be a truck somewhere on set literally filled with leaves purely for blowing across the set but it works and brilliantly accentuates the creepy nature of the show.

The music for me was standout from the outset. The score is provided by Brian Tyler and he does a completely outstanding job. At no point does the music overwhelm the story, it instead elevates it perfectly whilst showing off its brilliance.

This is definitely a series to keep your eye on, the ratings have come back positive and hopefully will stay that way next week. I demand you check it out asap!

8/10

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