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.
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.
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.”
IF 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!Follow @kimroots