Pilot Preview: Fox's Insane Supernatural Mash-up Sleepy Hollow

By Tim Surette

Aug 28, 2013

Hey you! This isn't a review, it's a PREview. Huge difference. Most notably, the "P." Also, these PREviews are based on early cuts of pilots that might change drastically by the time they officially hit the air, so we can't properly review them. But we CAN give you an idea of what to expect. In this series of early looks at the new shows of fall 2013, there's no contemplating, no deep analysis; just super-duper quick thoughts on what we just watched that we're passing on to you. We'll revisit each previewed show in the fall with the hyper-intellectual breakdowns and fart jokes you're used to from us goons here at TV.com. 

Sleepy Hollow – Mondays starting September 16 at 9pm on Fox

STARRING AND CREATED BY: Super producers Alex Kurtzman and Robert Orci, who previously brought us the Transformers movies, Star Trek movies, and Fringe, whip up another adaptation with Sleepy Hollow. Tom Mison (Parade's End) and Nicole Beharie (42) starring as a pair of mismatched investigators, and Orlando Jones (the 7-Up guy), John Cho (Go On), and Katia Winter (Dexter) round out the cast. Former West Wing writer Mark Goffman will play showrunner. 

THE GIST: *Drops acid* Okay, hold on to your underwear, because this is going to be interesting. Sleepy Hollow combines the The Legend of Sleepy Hollow and The Bible and the Revolutionary War and a modern-day opposites-attract police procedural to create one of the wackiest things you'll see all year. After suffering a nasty battle wound in 1790, Ichabod Crane (Mison) wakes up in the year 2014 to find that his nemesis, the Headless Horseman, is starting a new rampage. Through various circumstances, he partners up with Sleepy Hollow Detective Abbie Mills (Beharie) to stop the resurrected and decapitated man o' horse. Yes, this is an actual show!

SNAP JUDGMENT: I know it's absolutely bonkers and wacky and daffy and batty and screwy, but there's something about Sleepy Hollow that actually works. It's not great, no, no, no, but it's also not as terrible as it sounds. For one thing, the show appears to know that it's crazy; the pilot episode just goes with the flow by using psychic dreams, spirit animal guides, flashbacks to George Washington signing things, and magic-Bibles-as-plot-devices to spur the nonsense along. It's so out of its mind that you'll rarely have a second to digest what's happening, and that's the best way to watch it, because any confusion you might experience will be whisked away by the sight of something ludicrous, like the badass Headless Horseman pumping a shotgun and firing off a few rounds in the middle of a foggy cemetery (YES!). I'm positive Sleepy Hollow was a stoner dare that went too far, but there are no faults with its look or style. And be prepared to applaud Beharie, who absolutely commits to the material and puts in a fantastic performance to tether this insanity to the outer atmosphere.

PILOTITIS DIAGNOSIS: Any show with as much mythology as Sleepy Hollow is going to be loaded with backstory and exposition just to make sense of what's going on, and that stuff is all over the place in the pilot. But since we're all here for the freakshow, listening to the gobbledygook is actually one of the best parts. 

FACES TO LOOK OUT FOR: If you haven't seen any of Beharie's previous work (42, Shame, The Good Wife), you're in luck. Mison is fine as Crane, but he's really just a British dude and not the nervous character of the original legend. Ultimately, it's the Horseman who steals the show, but he doesn't have a face.

RANDOM THOUGHTS: Ummm, nothing more random than what I just saw.

EXCITEMENT LEVEL: Slightly above medium, but 90 percent of that is out of morbid curiosity to see exactly how far into the ether this can go. Sleepy Hollow is near Zero Hour levels of crazy, but it has a lot more fun with itself. On the 1 to 10 scale, let's give this a 6. 


(Where we rank the fall season's pilots based on very early impressions)


1. Almost Human - J.J. Abrams and J.H. Wyman's robotic buddy-cop drama

2. The 100 - Teens have fun (and die) on post-apocalyptic Earth while the adults fight each other in a big tin can orbiting the planet

3. Intelligence - Josh Holloway stars as a Cyber Command agent who has Wi-Fi in his brain

4. Sleepy Hollow - Ichabod Crane zaps to the future to help a detective stop The Headless Horseman

5. The Blacklist - James Spader is a master criminal who turns himself in to the FBI on one condition: He only works with the pretty new FBI agent

6. Hostages - Toni Collette is a doctor whose family is taken hostage and will be killed by Dylan McDermott's character unless she kills the President in surgery

7. Dracula - Jonathan Rhys Meyers is the fanged one in this re-imagining of the classic story of an undead guy chasing his old girlfriend

8. Lucky 7 - A group of gas-station employees win the lottery, for better or worse


1. Brooklyn Nine-Nine - Andy Samberg and a bunch of buffoons are cops in Brooklyn

2. Trophy Wife - Malin Akerman marries into a big family and ends up with two ex-wives and three stepchildren in the process 

3. The Crazy Ones - Robin Williams and Sarah Michelle Gellar are a father-daughter team in the advertising business

4. Mom - Anna Faris and Allison Janney play a mother and daughter with life problems

5. Enlisted - Geoff Stults goes to army reject camp with his two brothers 

6. About a Boy - Jason Katims' TV adaptation of the film adaption of Nick Hornby's novel about a man-boy friendship

7. Super Fun Night - Rebel Wilson and her loser friends hit the social scene

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  • Ralike Aug 31, 2013

    The 100 I will check out but I don't think it will last that long I mean how long can they hold that plot line when all 100 die what will happen?

  • danharr Aug 31, 2013

    Orlando Jones the 7-up guy are you fucking kidding me Tim?!

  • Georgie81 Aug 30, 2013

    Didnt realise this was set in present day. My interest level has dipped a little, but ill still give it a chance.

  • danharr Aug 31, 2013

    I take it you've never seen a commericial for the show?

  • Georgie81 Sep 01, 2013

    I have not.

  • Chaos-Melly Aug 30, 2013

    Looks fun and un-pretentious so i'm game.

  • JT_Kirk Aug 30, 2013

    Oh, and Orci/Kurtzman used to bring us TV like Hercules and Xena, and now Hawaii Five-Oh, so um, grain of salt.

  • JT_Kirk Aug 30, 2013

    Another 6, everything that isn't dogshit seems to get a 6 this season. This is the season of "meh".

    As for Sleepy Hollow, it looked kinda interesting in trailers, which surprisingly looked just like this preview read, so good job Fox trailer guys? I guess. Anyway, the 6 suggests that the goofy weird stuff doesn't really need to be followed, and that's a good enough reason to say no to this.

  • terminaltrip421 Aug 30, 2013

    I'm skipping all pilot previews as I'd prefer to be surprised in most cases and not have pre-conceived notions. and wanting to be surprised is especially true with this show which i'm looking forward to more than any other of the new season and am convinced by the trailer will be good and anyone who says otherwise is wrong! wrong! wrong! i'll maybe comeback and read this after i watch the pilot and chew out tim shit talking he might have done.

  • alcalde Aug 30, 2013

    Am I the only one who thinks this sounds like a mash-up of the 1989 movie "Warlock" with the movie "National Treasure"?

    With Warlock,

    >In Boston of 1691, a warlock is sentenced to death, but escapes magically
    >into the future (our present), followed doggedly by the witch hunter. There
    >he is searching for the three parts of the Devil's Bible, trailed by the witch
    >hunter and the woman whose house he landed in. They must stop him, as
    >the book contains the true name of God, which he can use to un-create the

    And of course National Treasure for the mystery tied up in secret, conspiratorial American history (which the Sleepy Hollow trailer hints at more than the review here).

  • alcalde Aug 30, 2013

    There's only one 7-up guy, and it was Geoffrey Holder!

  • Liria Aug 29, 2013

    I'm thinking this could work in a crazy sort of way as long as they don't even try to pretend their being serious. :)
    I did enjoy some of the jokes in the trailer, so I'll give it a shot.

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