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Thoughts On 'Sleepy Hollow' After Its Network TV Debut Last Night?

by Tambay A. Obenson
September 17, 2013 10:15 AM
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sleepy hollow

If you tuned in last night, what did you think? 

All the footage I'd seen of the new series prior to last night's debut intrigued me enough to want to check it out, so I definitely watched. And I enjoyed it, which is a very rare thing for me to say when it comes to network TV shows in 2013.

It was well-acted, with an intriguing, albeit familiar story, and just sinister enough (as sinister as Broadcast network TV allows) to keep me engaged throughout. 

Episode 1 threw quite a bit at us right from the start - understandably so, I suppose. Think of episode 1 as you would the first 15 minutes of your typical Hollywood movie - meant to thrill, excite and hook you as quickly as possible, so that you'll hopefully stay on for the ride that's to come. So I wouldn't expect every single episode to be as action-packed as the first one, but that's OK. They don't all need to be. It's a roller coaster ride!

But I dug it, and, while it's not what I'd call a heady series, I'll return for episode 2. 

A part of me would love to see a series like this on cable TV instead, where the rules of what's *acceptable* to broadcast tend to be more lenient, meaning a series like Sleepy Hollow would only up the ante on what's considered disturbing, eerie, and sinister, making it all-the-more exciting to watch, me thinks. But I'll take this for now, and hope that it can keep up the momentum. With a cast of diverse leads (a black American woman in Nicole Beharie, a black American man in Orlando Jones, and a Korean-American man in John Cho, notably), it would be great to see a series that proves itself over time, survive the itchy trigger fingers of studio execs, looking to quickly cut those programs that aren't drawing the kind of audience they expect them to.

As much talk as has been given to Kerry Washington's historical "black leading woman in a dramatic TV series" in ABC's Scandal, don't forget Nicole Beharie could make a splash of her own in FOX's Sleepy Hollow, which itself is also a drama, but with adventure and mystery aspects to it, making it an entirely different kind of show, compared to Scandal

I don't have the debut episode's ratings yet, so I can't say how well it did. But when I have the numbers, I'll certainly publish them here.

It you tuned in, what did you think?

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  • Rita Montgomery | October 1, 2013 1:51 AMReply

    There are NO black people in Sleepy Hollow. Also the plot is disjointed and doesn't make sense.

  • Carl | October 1, 2013 4:12 AM

    Orlando Jones and Nicole Beharie aren't black? What the hell are they? Or does your black folk in tv show quota require a higher number. Stop nip picking.

  • Akimbo | September 20, 2013 1:54 PMReply

    I think it's stupid fun. Some of the dialogue is bad-bad-bad, but the plot moved so quickly that you don't have time to linger on it. I thought for sure that Abby and Ichabod were going to have to spend the rest of the series laboring in secret because no one else would believe them, and was so relieved that the craziness is out in the open.

    Wish John Cho had survived, but oh well. I'll keep watching until/unless the dialogue starts overtaking the plot.

  • Molly | September 20, 2013 1:19 PMReply

    I agree that I really liked the show, but the part that pleasantly surprised me the most was the diversity! Bam! They really stepped it up to what our society SHOULD expect out of our big time TV shows and movies.

    That being said, I can't wait until the next episode!


  • george f | September 20, 2013 12:42 AMReply

    Great opening show...well done, looking forward to the entire season encapsulated in the coming preview shown...

  • cecile | September 18, 2013 7:07 PMReply

    Loved it! The entire cast has great chemistry, the acting is on point and I didn't want the episode to end. Bring on epi 2. Hopefully people can get past their prejudice ways and enjoy a show that's merely for entertaining and nothing else.

  • Ronald T. Jones | September 17, 2013 11:15 PMReply

    Bforreal, just think of the show as a typical fantasy, just one that happens to use Christianity as a fantasy element, the same way Clash of the Titans used Greek religion as a basis for its fantasy elements.

  • Molly | September 20, 2013 1:22 PM

    I have to agree. I am an atheist myself, but it is kind of a folklore attraction. I think your example Ronald is a perfect one to describe their relationship to using Christian Bible Revelations.

  • Bforreal | September 17, 2013 10:34 PMReply

    I thought Nicole Beharie and Tom Mison were great, and I'll tune in next week. But the show lost me a bit with the Revelations crap, and as non-religious person, I just don't know how long I'll be able to hang in there with the overt religiosity of the show. Honestly, it's just plain annoying and does nothing for the storyline.

  • bb | September 17, 2013 9:39 PMReply

    The direction was really good. Len Wiseman did a great job bringing shots that we primarily see in feature films to the small screen (i.e. the POV shot after someone is beheaded, the POV shot of the window in the car scene, and a few others). Hopefully they can keep the momentum going because I honestly think SH could be the next big hit.

  • FactChecker | September 17, 2013 9:26 PMReply

    I enjoyed the show. I'm not familiar with Nicole's work, but she was good. I was engaged with her performance. However, I understand the points made by Syrich, however, I will add that anytime something is popular, whether with black or white actors, other writers and producer are ALWAYS going to try and capitalize on the phenomenon. Remember, what, three seasons ago when NBC and ABC tried to jump on the Mad Men bandwagon with Pan Am and the Playboy Club?

    I don't mind formula, too much, if it works. And in this case it did. I liked how they tied history to the present, and I think Beharie and the actor playing Crane have solid chemistry. This is much better than Once on ABC and certainly very different, in tone, from Elementary. Also, don't forget her other colleague, who is Asian and now tied to the headless horseman by blood. I haven't seen FOX give diversity this much of a chance since In Living Color, back in the 90s.

    I will keep watching and hope others will too. I found it refreshing that Orlando Jones, and Beharie, were playing roles that -- let's keep it real -- probably weren't written with either in mind. And I liked how the racial/slave element was immediately addressed too.

    The writing was smart. I will continue to watch and support this show and hope it does well in the ratings. ... And hope people of all races, but particularly our folks, will find it and stay tuned.

  • LL2 | September 17, 2013 11:20 PM

    I still don't understand this formula you guys are talking about. Hiring black actresses is a formula? The glass ceiling is finally cracking in Hollywood for black women you have an issue with that? I'm sure that Beharie and other black actresses go to Hollywood for the purpose of getting as many acting opportunities as possible and don't want to be limited in the kind of roles they can audition for. If you want to be limited in your career, fine, but don't project that onto black actresses in Hollywood. Most people including Beharie want as many career options as possible.

  • Phred G | September 17, 2013 9:19 PMReply

    LOVED IT! (details in your 'numbers' post). As for " the actress Nicole Beharie (whom I am not familiar with) looked too petite, young and weak for the role. " . You are entitled to your opinion but please GET FAMILIAR with her work ( APARTMENT. 4E, AMERICAN VIOLET, 42 ) . She has a wide range and is fine for the part. ijs. BTW: MY LAST DAY WITHOUT YOU should be out soon. Shows she is a 'triple-threat'.

  • ScriptTease | September 17, 2013 7:50 PMReply

    I enjoyed Sleepy Hollow, as I do Once Upon a time shown on ABC.

  • Syrich | September 17, 2013 4:17 PMReply

    I am a bit reluctant to post my comment, because of all the Nicole Beharie love being expressed here. However, my post is not intended as hate against NB, it is simply my personal opinion about casting and certain formulas being applied. I started watching and was interrupted, but the flashbacks looked really good. Very visual and engaging. I love history and I was interested to see how well it would be handled in the story. I do not like the casting, the actress Nicole Beharie (whom I am not familiar with) looked too petite, young and weak for the role. I like that its a sista being cast, just wish she had a little more volume. To me she looks like she was cast because she is similar to Kerry Washington and they are trying to apply the Scandal, black woman/white man formula. From what I saw, the show had great potential, but it was being overshadowed by hints of Scandal, Once Upon Time and Grimm all rolled up together. I think the show could be good on its own, if it removes its gimicky aspect. Scripted TV is becoming more and more like reality TV, the same script is being used over and over. Nevertheless, I am going to try to keep watching to see if it becomes good TV or if something better is broadcast at the same time.

  • molly | September 20, 2013 1:27 PM

    I think Users Afrostyling and LL2's comment were right on the money. Well said you two.

  • Afrostyling | September 17, 2013 10:35 PM

    Holy sexism misogyny and batman! She is petite and looks weak? I guess if it was a neck rolling, chicken bone eating sassy black woman, that wold be better? And what does this have to do with scandal? I can get the comparison to grimm and once upon a time because they are both fantasy shows inspired by fables/folklore but scandal? Get over it!

  • LL2 | September 17, 2013 6:36 PM

    Not all black women have "volume". Black women are not a monolith. But you are entitled to your opinion. What's with the "Scandal" comparision? This is not the first sci-fi show to have a black woman or mixed woman as a lead opposite a white male. For example, Eureka with Salli Richardson and Misfits (UK) with Antonia Thomas. Why do you keep taking about "Scandal"? Does it bother you to see a black woman working with a white man? Segregation is over, people of different races can work together and even date if they want to. There is absolutely nothing wrong with that and the world will not end if it happens.

  • Walter Harris Gavin | September 17, 2013 1:04 PMReply

    Is Tarrytown, NY really that diverse a place that you have so many black folks in positions of authority? And given the storyline it seems as if it's not a new phenomena (being a bit tongue 'n cheek here). I think it's great to showcase "diversity" in this way and Nicole Beharie is certainly a star. I think the idea of "the horseman" being "death" as in The Book of Revelations is a stretch and it's a bit ridiculous that modern residents of Sleepy Hollow wouldn't know anything about the story which made their 'burg famous.
    Rather than come up with this far-fetched(in this context) "Revelations" trope, why not focus on the notion that The Legend of Sleepy Hollow rather than being just a made up ghost story is "real," and have the characters deal with that situation. I think a more interesting series could be made out of that -suspense-filled, intriguing and dramatic, with a little commentary on modern life (via the Rip Van Winkle/Ichabod Crane character) thrown in for comedic relief.

  • Afrostyling | September 17, 2013 10:32 PM

    If y'all paid attention, you would know that the legend of sleepy hollow itself does not exist yet in this version. So this is them writing their own take on it. So the townspeople know nothing about ichabod, headless horsemen. This is all new.

  • Bforreal | September 17, 2013 10:30 PM

    I agree with your part about the Revelations trope. I was so freaking annoyed by that (especially as a non-religious person), although otherwise I enjoyed the show. I don't know how many times I'll tune in though with the over-the-top religious storyline. That said, Nicole Beharie and Tom Mison were excellent.

  • syrich | September 17, 2013 6:12 PM

    I agree with your comment "it's a bit ridiculous that modern residents of Sleepy Hollow wouldn't know anything about the story which made their 'burg famous." The storyline would be far more entertaining if they would use less fantasy associations and more legend, especially if they approach it from an urban point of view, like they are trying to do. I think I could really get into this show if they would dial back on using the same sort of formats that are being used in popular tv shows. I would like to see them weave together historical events with legendary references. This could really be a much more interesting story with just a little tweaking. Sorry there I go wishing for intellegent TV again. I thought the battle scene was well done visually. In fact, this is the main reason I plan to watch it again to make sure I am being fair with my observations.

  • LL2 | September 17, 2013 2:34 PM

    Well I'm new here so I haven't heard of him. My question was a serious question. I can't imagine that a black person would think only two black people were a lot of black people in positions of power. I live in a pretty racist mostly white area and we have a black female mayor. So I can't see why he would conclude that 2 black people in positions of power was alot. That's the bare minimum.

  • CC | September 17, 2013 2:18 PM

    OH LORD! Is Walter white?

    Was that an attempt at humor or... can I ask, are you white? I mean, I can safely assume that most around this part of town KNOWS Walter is very much a black who is married to a black woman.

    Well, if you didn't know catch-up. He was profiled in Shadow and Acts "writer/producer Walter Harris Gavin shares his story"

  • LL2 | September 17, 2013 1:44 PM

    Two black people are a lot of people for you? Are you white?

  • Mimi | September 17, 2013 12:46 PMReply

    I like it. It reminds me of Grimm a bit, especially in the ways in which the horror and humor are intertwined. I am looking forward to seeing how Nicole's character's sister adds another element to the story. It was cool how they discussed the obvious racial stuff right away instead of pretending that the characters were devoid of any racial, gender, or other social markers.

    Between this show and American Horror, I am looking forward to some series that deal with my favorite supernaturals...witches! Enough with the vamps already!

  • LL2 | September 20, 2013 4:11 PM

    Everyone is entitled to their opinion but if the most noticeable thing about a character is their race, something is wrong. Black people are human beings too and should be written in ways that focus on their humanity and complexity. Like I said race should be discussed if appropriate but I would like to think that most people have more important things in their lives that define them like their relationships with loved ones, careers, and personal interests. I want Abbie to be a multi-dimensional character that any human being can relate to not someone people project their racial hang-ups onto.

  • Molly | September 20, 2013 1:29 PM

    I agree with your comments about race Mimi, well said.

  • LL2 | September 17, 2013 1:50 PM

    Its good to discuss race when it makes sense to do so and in this case it did being that Crane came from a different time period. Other than that I don't really see the point in always focusing on race. Doesn't seem realistic to me. When I go to my job, I don't say, "Hey co-workers, I'm black let's talk about it". Whatever their thoughts on my race, they keep it to themselves cause we are there to work, not discuss race. So I hope the show focuses on the plot, not race unless it is appropriate to do so.

  • AJones | September 17, 2013 12:36 PMReply

    Great first episode. Had me all the way, until the 'headless horsman' appears fitted out with an array of assault weapons, etc. which he handled like a Vietnam Vet. So where did he learn to fire those?? If anything was unbelievable, then that certainly topped the lot. However, the concept of being reincarnated in 2013 didn't really bother me so I guess my point is mute!

  • molly | September 20, 2013 1:31 PM

    I actually laughed when I saw that, but in a good way. A gun lover in the 1800s, and a gun lover now. I don't imagine it would take too long to figure out newer versions of guns anyways. I also think it's funny that you don't question its ability to aim with no eyes, but its ability to figure our an assault rifle? lol :)

  • JonFlores | September 17, 2013 11:20 PM

    I think the horsemen of the apocalypse could handle any weapon from any era.

  • onyx | September 17, 2013 11:55 AMReply

    Well done show. The flashbacks worked for me, but I have my doubts whether the wife/witch is really on the side of the good guys.

    Nicole and Tom's chemistry was evident throughout the episode. Their banter was witty (the car scene where he's enamored at the automatic window going up and down was priceless) and Nicole's part appears to have a mysterious, chilling backstory (for her and her sister). I enjoyed it, and the ending was pretty spooky. Didn't expect one character's surprising betrayal and death, but I hope this character returns somehow.

  • Teddy | September 17, 2013 11:02 AMReply

    I was waiting for a review from S&A! I kept flipping back and forth from this show and another, so I can't really give a good review here. But I'm not sure how I'm going to get into all the Revelations and more that's going on in the show. I'll have to re-watch, and check out the next episode since I love Nicole Beharie's work.

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