By now I'm sure you've noticed that year end lists are always littered with cable dramas from AMC, FX, HBO and Showtime. It's not exactly brand new information that these series are considered to be superior to network dramas, but the gap between the two becomes more and more obvious with each passing year as fewer and fewer network dramas make it in to those all important top 10 lists.
The reasoning behind this is not exactly rocket science; cable series benefit from having shorter seasons, which usually means the writing is tighter and there are very few, if any, filler episodes to slow down the momentum built by the episodes that push the plot forward. The main networks have been slow to respond, still favoring the 22-episode format, but it's my great hope that ABC, NBC and CBS will look toward Fox and what they've done with Sleepy Hollow and follow in their footsteps.
It's been said several times before, but Sleepy Hollow could have easily been a flop. The series is a mixture of several different genres, but lands squarely within the larger world of Genre Television. It has a very complicated mythology that seems to grow exponentially with each passing week, and no one would have been surprised if it turned out to be laughable. Historically, genre shows like Sleepy Hollow, which depend on viewers watching from one week to the next in order to follow the main plot, have never really been successful on the main networks.
More often than not, those series are relegated to lesser networks like Syfy or The CW, where they're looked down upon by the majority of viewers because they're not on one of the main networks. But every now and then those lesser networks produce truly magnificent dramas like Battlestar Galactica, which left a lasting impression on the television lanscape, or The Vampire Diaries which became one of the most fearless series on TV during its second season as it sped through plots (and characters) quicker than any other series in recent memory. Its easy to take risks on these kinds of series when they're not being scrutinized by as many eyes, or when their fanbases are loyal and dedicated, almost to a fault. And week after week, Sleepy Hollow is taking risks and successfully overcoming every obstacle placed in its path to become one of the fall season's best new shows. And they're doing it on a major network. So yes, I do hope the other networks are taking notice, because this is how you do a genre television show with a shortened season and do it right.
This week's installment, "The Golem," welcomed John Noble's sin-eating Henry Parrish back into the fray, and although I felt like a bit of Walter Bishop was seeping through in a few scenes, I can't really complain. He's a wonderful character, who can transition back and forth between lovable and almost terrifying from one sentence to the next. I don't know that I want to see him as a series regular in Season 2, because I don't want him to wear out his welcome as eccentric characters can sometimes do, but I do hope we'll see a decent amount of his character. After all, didn't he call Abbie and Ichabod something resembling family in this episode?
And isn't that really what this episode was all about, finding family? We knew this was coming as Ichabod literally spoke about finding family in the final moments of the last episode, but it bears repeating that family is an important part of who we are and where we come from. It makes sense that every single one of Ichabod's actions this week was driven by that natural desire to find, and love his son. He's made a fine makeshift family with Abbie, and their relationship warms my heart (especially when Abbie ignored his comment about the mistletoe), but he loves and misses his wife, and now he's also grieving the loss of a son he never knew after discovering Katrina's own coven was responsible for stopping Jeremy's heart. They were also responsible for banishing Katrina to purgatory. I guess all those lovely stories about witches being like sisters was not the case in Katrina's coven.
Uncovering the truth was a difficult task that required Ichabod to travel to purgatory with Henry's help as he can reach across realms, but it also came at a price. Returning to the real world after Katrina broke the news that she didn't actually know what happened to Jeremy after she gave him to Grace Dixon and her husband—was Jeremy's own golem—an animated anthropomorphic being created entirely from inanimate matter—which would stop at nothing to protect the boy. It's targeted victims were the members of Katrina's coven who banished her to purgatory and who essentially killed Jeremy. Naturally, they were chilling in a traveling carnival because that's what witches with poor dental insurance do, and they accepted their fate as having been sealed and didn't flee the golem.
Fate plays a prominent role in Sleepy Hollow, as Ichabod and Abbie's own destinies as the witnesses were decided a long time ago. Their paths have been set to cross for centuries, and the weirdo witches who called themselves the Four Who Speak as One accepted their fate. But I have a feeling Abbie and Ichabod are going to have something to say about their own destinies as martyrs, and it's something along the lines of "OH, HELL NO." Moloch told Ichabod in the final moments of the episode that he's coming for Abbie's soul and Ike will be the one to hand it to him. But it's not going to be that easy, because that wouldn't be any fun. This is a nice set up for the final three episodes of the season (I know, I know, it's sad, but it's the 13-episode format that has allowed this series to flourish and become so enchanting every week), as the fight against destiny and for Abbie's soul will no doubt lead to some graat moments for everyone's favorite leftenant.
"The Golem" felt a bit like a stand-alone episode with the Monster of the Week setup, but in actuality it was yet another episode that uncovered another tiny sliver of Ichabod's backstory, his son's backstory, and the show's overall mythology. I'm not entirely convinced Ichabod's son is actually dead. Yes, his heart stopped, but it was done so by a hex. If Ichabod can wake up from a 200-year slumber like no time has passed, why can't Jeremy?
FROM THE SHERIFF'S FILES
- Decapitations this week: 0
- Things that confused Ichabod this week: Fun house mirrors, stockings
- Jeremy had powers of his own. When he comes back (because he totally will), do NOT piss him off or he might burn your house down. He'll probably say it was an accident, but you know it won't be.
- I'm sure I'm actually forgetting a ton of stuff, but please forgive me. I'm currently chilling at the airport and have been up basically for forever. Just pretend it's a symptom of my grief about the fact we won't have new episodes for a few weeks.
- "When did irony become a national pastime?"
- You embroidered my name on some oversize hosiery. How odd."
- "What hellish form of torment is this?"
- What are you going to do with all your sudden free time in the wake of Sleepy Hollow's hiatus?