Greenlighting a greatly revamped Sleepy Hollow wasn’t easy, but reportedly was worth the anxiety.
Renewing the supernatural drama for a fourth season without co-lead Nicole Beharie, whose Abbie was killed off in the April finale, “was obviously a very hard conversation. Crane and Abbie were the spine of the show in a lot of ways, so it was difficult to figure out of it was right thing to do, to continue or not,” Fox entertainment president David Madden said on Monday at the Television Critics Association summer press tour.
But when Sleepy Hollow creatives “pitched us an array of new characters and new situations for Crane to get into,” Fox brass was convinced, Madden said. “And the first seven scripts are really fun. We think there’s a lot of good new stories to tell,” especially with out-of-time Ichabod Crane being transplanted to the nation’s capitol, Washington, D.C.
As for how Fox execs expect viewers to warm up to this significant revamp, Fox Television Group co-chairman/CEO Dana Walden said that when you “fundamentally” alter and relaunch a series, “The only thing you can do is show materials from the show that will demonstrate to viewers that there’s still something very special about the series.”
After the shocking Season 3 finale aired, Fox, 20th Century Fox and the producers of Sleepy Hollow issued a statement calling “the tragic death of Abbie Mills” a “bold move” for the series, adding: “We feel we provided a wonderfully poignant conclusion for Abbie and showed some of the best moments between the Witnesses that we’ve seen on-screen.” Showrunner Clifton Campbell meanwhile said that while “the character is gone,” Beharie could make the occasional appearance in Season 4, in some other form: “It’s always surprising to see how the reflections of one character or another can influence the show moving forward.”
Walden previously addressed the controversial cast shake-up during the May Upfronts, saying that a “wide variety of factors” played into Beharie’s exit, and “it was not a decision that we wanted to make initially. We ended up being put in a situation where that was a decision that needed to be made.”
Sleepy Hollow Season 4 will premiere at midseason, in early 2017.