Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Sleepy Hollow 1.01 Review: It's not always Insanity

For all those that have yet to watch the series premiere of Sleepy Hollow that intend to watch it spoiler free, walk away from this blog now. This is my friendly reminder that there will be spoilers below. THERE WILL BE SPOILERS!
Okay, now that I’ve gotten that warning out of my system, I’ll jump right into my review. The series opened up to the revolutionary war being fought between the two groups (I’m Canadian so I have very little knowledge to who that was), and suffice it to say, one of our two lead characters, Ichabod Crane (played by the commendable Tom Mison) is under the orders of General Washington (yes that Washington). I have to say, I think it was the right idea to open up to a scene from the past because it ultimately sets up this series as to where everything came from, where it all began. I also really liked the slow-mo shots at the very beginning every time a gun went off. However, I didn’t understand why Crane was using his thumb to check pulses. Does he not know the thumb has its own pulse and thus cannot check pulses? Maybe they didn’t know that back then. My other issue with the flashbacks to the past is the grainy edges on the screen. I get that it’s a technique to adjust our minds that ‘oh yeah, this scene is set in the past’, but I think it might become ultimately distracting. And I did find at the beginning my ears had to almost work to hear sounds.
Once we get passed the flashback sequence that sets us up with Ichabod Crane, and his waking up in the present, and nearly being hit by both a transport truck, and a car, the show moves on to establishing the setting of this series, the lovely town of Sleepy Hollow, population 144,000. The choice in music was quite well done for bringing us around the city, and letting us see all the pretty lights and houses, but I think it was cut a little short. Another ten or fifteen seconds of the song before moving onto the diner would’ve been preferable, though including it in the diner scene as playing on the radio there was well thought out.
When it comes to the characters in this series, I like that they’re being played by a fresh set of faces. Too many of the same actors these days are playing roles where you recognize them easily from somewhere else, but I pretty much only recognized three of the actors: the captain, the guy interrogating Crane, and Andy Dunn (played by the esteemed John Cho, whom I wished could’ve gotten a meatier role). I love that they gave Crane a sense of humour, as a sarcastic person myself I always enjoy a nice witty character, so I definitely look forward to that. And I most assuredly enjoyed his frustrations and delight in witnessing the new technologies that were not available two hundred fifty years ago. I’m also very pleased with the fact that there is actual racial diversity in this series, that doesn’t happen as much as it should be. The weakest link was probably the character of Abby, but even she did well, though there certainly needs to be some minor tweaks to the way the actress plays her, once she finds her groove I’m sure it will work out.
After a solid opening before this show’s first commercial break, it managed to keep a good pace, throw in enough flashbacks, that I was interested the whole way through. I don’t think there was too much of the flashes of the past, after I had heard the episode was riddled with it, and the cinematography for the most part was very well done. Len Wiseman definitely did well directing this pilot, and there was a lot more range of colour than with his film series Underworld. I quite hope he directs more episodes of this series in the future, and he guaranteed that there would be high standards for directing each episode from now on. While most procedurals can end up getting tired after far too many seasons and way too little character development, I think the added twist of supernatural aspects to this series, and the help of two of the Fringe creators on board, this series could do quite well for itself. I actually managed to sit back and enjoy the episode, before taking a critical eye to it.
There were a couple of issues though. I already mentioned the one about checking pulses with the thumb, but another noticeable one was the shotgun the Headless Horseman was using. There’s no way it held that many bullets in it, and we never saw him reload, so I can’t understand how he could get that many shots in. And my other issue, while not extreme, was how it was hard to tell how many days had passed in this episode. It was at least two, but it could’ve been three. One other thing, not so much an issue, but something a little too cliché, was the whole thunderstorm when the first sinister and creepy thing happened, when the sheriff is murdered. I get that it’s a cliché for a reason, but it lacks a certain sense of creativity. Those were really my only noticeable problems with this series from this episode.
A few questions to wrap things up. What is up with that bow burn on the Horseman’s hand? What does it signify? In the original short story, was the Headless Horseman apart of the Four Horseman of the Apocalypse? And why is it that when people are faced with something unexplainable that cannot be killed with bullets, that they just gape at the big lug until it kills them, rather than run in the other direction and try to figure things out (I’m looking at you, Sheriff)?
My rating for this episode: 4 out of 5.

Best Lines:
“Oh, well, that’s wonderful news, thank you for the clarification. Here I thought I’d actually awoken in the future, and that my wife had been dead for two hundred and fifty years. I’m glad that everything I’m seeing, and hearing, and touching, is impossible because that means it isn’t actually happening.” – Ichabod Crane, demonstrating his witty sense of humour.
“It’s like watching a chicken cluck.” – Crane, responding to Abby by telling her she’s speaking unintelligibly to him.
“Do you think he can hear us? I mean…” – a cop when faced with the Headless Horseman.

That’s it for now, folks. Check back tomorrow for my reviews of New Girl and Brooklyn Nine-Nine (I know that’s a day late, but I’m behind, and there’s only so many I can do in one day).

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