Sleepy Hollow: Five Things to Know About Fox's Haunting, (Revisionist) Historical New Drama

sleepy-hollow-horseman-325Ichabod Crane may not know it, but he owes a debt of gratitude to one Ms. Carrie Mathison.

That’s because Showtime’s Homeland so inspired the creators of Fox’s Sleepy Hollow (which debuts Monday at 9/8c), they decided to go headless or go home. 

“The thing that I loved about Homeland so much… is that every episode could’ve been the finale. Every single episode,” said Alex Kurtzman, who — with fellow Fringe alum Roberto Orci — is behind the new supernatural series.

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Homeland “kind of set a new standard in the way stories were being told, and I think we embraced that fully,” he added during a conference call with reporters. “So, we have jumped into the deep end of the pool knowing that our premise is sort of one molecule away from insanity at all times, but we are keeping it tethered to a grounded, emotional reality that hopefully allows you to buy into it and to really live in the world.”

“One molecule away from insanity” isn’t an overstatement. The drama finds Ichabod Crane (Tom Mison, Salmon Fishing in the Yemen) — AKA the main character in Washington Irving’s ghostly short story “The Legend of Sleepy Hollow” — waking up in modern-day New York state centuries after nearly dying in a Revolutionary War run-in with the entity that becomes The Headless Horseman.

Local detective Abbie Mills (Nicole Beharie, 42) is made aware of Crane’s case after the Horseman, also recently awakened via magical mumbo-jumbo, begins a reign of terror in the quiet town of Sleepy Hollow. Together, the pair begin to realize that some seriously evil forces are afoot… and they may be the only people who can stop them.

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It’s a big premise, to be sure. Good thing Orci and Kurtzman offered up a few handy tips to keep in mind while watching Sleepy Hollow‘s pilot.

DON’T LOOK BACK IN ANGER |The series relies heavily on flashbacks to Crane’s colonial life, a device that Kurtzman says works well for the procedural/horror series. “On top of the cases of the week, the solutions to the modern-day story is to look to the past,” he said. “And the idea being that if you don’t learn from the past, you’re doomed to repeat it.”

NOT SO BY-THE-BOOK | As we’ve noted before, the good people of Sleepy Hollow have never heard of Irving’s classic tale, and it’s not because the town library’s collection is lacking. “We are trying to create a kind of very unique hero here.  You know, no one tells Spider-Man or Batman, ‘Oh, you’re that Spider-Man or Batman from the Stan Lee comic,'” Orci said. The short story, he adds, is “ultimately just a jumping-off point for our series.”

Sleepy Hollow Season 1 SpoilersIF THE TURNCOAT FITS | In the very beginning of the pilot, you’ll note that the British Crane is fighting alongside American soldiers. It’s a story tweak that came about after Mison went out for the part, said Orci. “Originally, we were not going to go for an English actor. But when we met him and saw him read, we realized that actually in the day of the Revolutionary War, many of the folks fighting for revolution and for the independence of the country may have recently arrived from the U.K. “

BEHIND THE SCENES OF HISTORY | As the series continues, expect to learn a lot more about certain historical events than your seventh grade teacher ever shared. Kurtzman said the Boston Tea Party, Paul Revere’s ride and the Boston Massacre are all potential fodder for the show’s revisionist history. “Revisiting those events and finding out what was happening on the periphery of those things leads to modern-day discoveries,” he said.

NUMBERS GAME | And what about the 144,000 population figure, highlighted in the pilot, which doesn’t quite reflect the real-life size of the New York hamlet? It “has some relevance biblically,” Orci said reassuringly.

Intrigued by Sleepy Hollow‘s premise? Planning to tune in for the pilot? Sound off in the comments!

Comments are monitored, so don’t go off topic, don’t frakkin’ curse and don’t bore us with how much your coworker’s sister-in-law makes per hour. Talk smart about TV!

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30 Comments
  1. Yep, this is the first new show of the season I plan to watch live!

  2. Whimsical says:

    If I’m not mistaken 144,000 people is the number of people supposed to disappear in the Rapture. This is the show I’m looking forward to the second most this fall.

    • Badpenny says:

      It’s a reference from Revelation. 12,000 from each of the 12 tribes of Israel will be sealed as servants of god on their foreheads.

  3. Brooke says:

    I can’t wait to see this show.

  4. Ava says:

    Looks great! Can’t wait!

  5. When I saw the trailer, can you imagine how The Headless Horseman use a machine gun like that. Guess I’ll tune in to see the premiere if it’s available On Demand.

  6. ichabbie says:

    I am so here for that show

  7. Last episode: Ichabod goes back in time, tells his story to Irwing, Irving writes it. Flash forward to the present, Abbie finds a copy of the book in the library (or Amazon.com).

    Sounds like a good series. I’m looking forward to it.

  8. Tori says:

    I am looking forward to this show but the ratings game has made me fearful for every new show and their chances. I hope Fox put some serious support behind Sleepy Hollow.

  9. CBWBDK1 says:

    It sounds awfull and will most likely be cancelled before the end of the first season.

  10. BTM says:

    It sounds ghastly & ridiculous, but I really want it to take off. If it does, Ichabod might get on the list of top baby names, right up there with Katniss. I want that to happen!

  11. liz says:

    Looking forward to it! Casting looks fabulous and its got a National Treasure vibe to it. Hope its awesome.

    • Ms.Georgia says:

      It seems somewhat like a supernatural version of Highlander: the stories are advanced via flashbacks of the main character in the past.

  12. Miss Priss says:

    We all know how this series will end: Ichabod realizes he’s been in purgatory all along.

  13. guest says:

    do anyone knows sonething about is that based on book?

  14. Krieson says:

    Another Flashback TV series? Sorry, not interested. LOST oversaturated that plot device and now every TV show uses that … it’s become an annoying plot device at that. Want tyo tell a story about the past? Then do it without flashbacks.

  15. Mikael says:

    I’m definitely going to check this out.

  16. murley says:

    I am looking forward to this series and I know this is nerdy and obnoxious but I can’t help myself: batman is a DC character and not from a Stan Lee (marvel) comic. Ok, I feel better now.

  17. G.L. says:

    I have to stick with a show for a few episodes that, referentially, cuts off Clancy Brown’s head.

    • Evan says:

      I just watched it tonight on On Demand and man I can’t believe that didn’t even occur to me. And there was lightning when you saw his head was off so someone somewhere had a Quickening.

  18. Donna says:

    I love this show!! I watched the Pilot last week and the second show on Fir.! I was NOT disappointed; this is an awesome show and I enjoy the fact that it’s between Biblical and History of the Revolution. I enjoy every minute of this series and wish the writers great luck with keeping it interesting and grounded! Looking forward to every show!!

  19. There is definately a lot to learn about this
    subject. I love all the points you’ve made.

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