Sleepy Hollow Review: A Different Yet Refreshing Take On A Classic Tale

Sleepy Hollow may share a name and several characteristics with the fairy tale of the same name, but Fox’s retelling of the story is vastly different.

On Monday night, the show’s pilot debuted, and, unlike the fairy tale of the same name, Icahbod Crane is a strong leading character. Crane is not perceived as a mousy school teacher but rather as a professor at Oxford who came to America to fight for the British army. After falling in love with the idea of what America could become Crane abandons Britain and joins forces with George Washington.


During a special mission at Washington’s bequest, Crane creates the headless horseman when he beheads the menacing character. It turns out that the headless horseman is death himself, and, after slicing open Crane, the men become bonded in a pool of their own combined blood.

Fast forward 250 years later and Crane wakes up in a cave in modern times. Crane, played by Tom Mison, is naturally surprised by his surroundings but seems to take everything in stride, perhaps because he previously watched as a headless horseman nearly killed him.

Crane quickly stumbles upon police officer Abbie Mills, portrayed by the very capable Nicole Beharie. Abbie is a deputy who is about to leave Sleepy Hollow for a stint at the FBI Academy. Abby watches as her friend and sheriff are swiftly beheaded by the headless horseman, and an investigation leads her into the world of Ichabod Crane.

Abbie, like Crane, has a past that allows her to easily believe the unimaginable. Abbie’s quickly referenced past helps keep the pilots storyline on pace. I appreciated how quickly the TV show jumped into action. I’m not one to enjoy forced back stories that muddle the pace of the shows present time. Crane dealt with the supernatural in the past and accepted his current fate, Abbie also dealt with similar strange circumstances and is also ready to move forward and find answers.

Mison and Beharie – Chemistry That Just Works

Mison and Beharie Have Chemistry on Sleepy Hollow

Mison and Beharie immediately grabbed my attention thanks to a chemistry that just works. This isn’t your typical sexual tension type of chemistry; they just feel like they understand one another. The pair share a banter that feels natural. Even as Mison talks about the emancipation of slavery, Nicole’s character takes it all in stride. You know that feeling when you meet someone and you feel like you have known each other all your life? That’s the type of chemistry the Sleepy Hollow actors share.

The Fox premiere also points at what is likely to become more supernatural elements, a popular theme among shows these days. Crane’s wife, Katrina, is caught in the middle of some type of magical world, yet she continues to fight on her husband’s behalf. Katrina is Crane’s guiding voice and comes to him in the form of what we assume are dreams. Katrina’s character takes away questions about a romantic interlude between Abbie and Crane and that fact actually helps shift character tensions away from romantic entanglement. With the romanticism of other supernatural shows out of the way we can place our focus towards the battles sure to arrive at the hands of the four horsemen and the apocalypse.

Sleepy Hollow – A World Of Uncertain Believers

Orlando Jones Sleepy Hollow

One really interesting aspect of Sleepy Hollow is that not everything is completely shrouded in mystery. For example, Crane and Abbie are not the only two people to see the headless horsemen. Several officers who arrive during a distress call back up their story. Rather than turing Ichabod into an ostracized character, he quickly becomes an unlikely ally for the team, if for no other reason than uncertainty.

If the shows runners do the series justice they will continue to focus on the police forces uncertainty with the horseman, Crane, and the impeding apocalypse.

I really liked Captain Frank Irving’s character played by the always wonderful Orlando Jones. His captain is not necessarily a “by the rules” stereotype. While he attempts to maintain control of his officers, he also gives them enough leeway to investigate their hunches. I really didn’t want another show where a police officer is forced to sneak behind her superiors back, and, in this case, Sleepy Hollow appears so far to be fairly unique.

As the Sleepy Hollow pilot draws to a close, we learn that Ichabod Crane and Abbie Mills are mentioned in the book of Revelations as two witnesses brought together for a seven-year period of tribulation. In those seven years, the witnesses are expected to fight the forces of hell. Together Abbie and Crane are responsible for ordaining the fate of the world on Judgment Day.

So will Sleepy Hollow last seven-seasons, thereby bringing about judgment day while revealing the fate of our characters? As with anything on TV, it will all come down to ratings and social media activity.

Sleepy Hollow Trailer

Final Thoughts On The Sleepy Hollow Pilot

With playful banter, a sense of urgency, and the ability to create compelling story lines with the help of historical references, I sure hope the show leads viewers on the right course. We have yet to meet war, famine, and conquest, and, even without their introduction, I am still waiting with bated breath for the shows second episode.

From very solid casting to natural banter and a dark yet inviting set design, I loved the Sleepy Hollow pilot.

Sleepy Hollow combines the feel of a police drama with the pace and scripting of a supernatural thriller and that combination in this writers opinion is a big win.

4 out of 5 Stars.