10 Reasons You Should Be Watching Sleepy Hollow

By Jay Barish in Daily Lists, TV
Monday, December 9, 2013 at 6:00 am

6. The Rediscovery of Orlando Jones


After being introduced to him in comedies like Office Space and The Replacements, I honestly didn't think Orlando Jones could believably play a serious character. I'm not even sure I wanted him to. And yet I'll be darned if he isn't believable (and a little awesome) as the new Chief of Police in Sleepy Hollow - yes, the one who replaces Clancy Brown.

It helps that his character, Captain Frank Irving, is not just a gratuitous hard-ass, but a skilled investigator in his own right who allows his team the freedom they need to do their job, whether it's following up on metaphysical leads or smashing down a precinct wall in order to annex the building next door. He also has a permissive attitude towards murder-related office jokes. And when he's out in the field? The guy leads a SWAT team like nobody's business, and seems to be the only person to have gone up against the Horseman solo and lived. Best replacement ever?

7. Le Freak, C'est Weak


The "Freak of the Week" is part of a rich tradition in genre TV, going back decades. But while Buffy managed to elevate the trope by using its weekly freaks as metaphors for growing up, for the most part it's used as a crutch, to give characters new and (debatably) varied challenges to face each week. (For example, Smallville, which managed to turn a show set in the rich, varied universe of DC Comics into an overhyped, trend-driven Goosebumps knockoff.)

After encounters with a burned witch, a dream spirit and a plague-infected boy from Croatoa early on, I was worried that Sleepy Hollow was going to take the easy way out and present the audience with a new menace. But it quickly shifted tacks and instead focused on developing the story of the Headless Horseman and Ichabod Crane, which has already gone in a pretty unexpected direction.

8. A Horseman by Any Other Name...


In the original tale, it is implied that the Headless Horseman may not have been supernatural at all, an idea which most adaptations have thankfully ignored. Now, in Sleepy Hollow, he has graduated to being one of the four fabled Horsemen of the Apocalypse. And while being Death incarnate doesn't seem to give him more powers, he has definitely taken his name to heart, cutting a swath through the Sleepy Hollow police department, as well as other local civic organizations. With a machine gun.

That's right, in addition to his trademark axe, which cauterizes wounds instantly for mostly safe-for-TV beheadings, the Horseman frequently carries out his assaults with an assault rifle. Hey, when your head's been cut off, you learn to adapt, and I think the avatar of Death would adjust to modern times by finding the most efficient way of delivering death available. And while a gun breaks with tradition, I have to say the anachronism looks pretty awesome. I'm actually kinda disappointed that the Horseman chose an actual horse to ride, instead of a motorcycle, like he did in that episode of The Real Ghostbusters. Season Two!

9. Nobody's Perfect


It goes without saying that flawed characters are more interesting than characters with no discernible defects. Luckily, the show has given both main characters plenty to atone for. Abbie regrets lying about the demon she and her sister saw in the woods that one time, leaving her free to pursue a life of street crime and, later, law enforcement, while her sister ended up in a mental institution. And Ichabod regrets the things he did while a member of the British army, including torturing suspects under orders from a superior officer who turned out to be a demon. That's right, Ichabod Crane is the Sayid in this story.

Ichabod has since done plenty to redeem himself, including taking down the Horseman for a couple of centuries, and Abbie is in the process of reconciling with her sister. But we're already starting to learn more about Ichabod's history with the Horseman, and he doesn't exactly come off looking squeaky clean. But the best part about the past coming back to haunt these two is that we get to watch them get spooked. I'm dying to see what's in Orlando Jones' closet. Probably mummies.

10. It's Educational!


Stop laughing: I mean it! Granted, every single thing the show tells us about the Revolutionary War is tied to an utterly fabricated event or motivation, like delivering a book of magic spells or staving off a demonic incursion, but you're still learning about the event, about the people involved, about what life was like during the late 1700s. For instance, I was not aware that the citizens of Roanoake colony spoke a completely foreign version of English that nobody would be able to understand today.

Ichabod's anecdotes and clarifications alone would be enough to give any high schooler a reason to pay more attention in their history class, in case it becomes of value in future episodes. And while mythology and Biblical passages are always good to know, there's something to be said for knowing a little bit more about your own country's history. What did you learn about history from the last episode of Dracula, or Grimm? That Dracula invented wireless electricity? Good luck patenting that one, Drac.

Previously by Jay Barish

The 10 Geekiest One-Shot Guest Stars on Chuck

10 Nerdiest Roles of David Warner

The Ten Greatest Zombie Kills on AMC's The Walking Dead

10 TV Geeks That Give Geeks a Bad Name

10 Nerdy Hats of Power

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