Is 'Sleepy Hollow' The New X-Files?
October 1st, 2013 8:53am EDT
Because of its poor plotting and pacing, I still don't understand my continuing fascination with 'Sleepy Hollow.' Or maybe I do when I consider its two leads and their amazing chemistry. 'Sleepy Hollow' is the new buddy cop show a la 'X-Files.' We have Lt. Abbie Mills (Nicole Beharie) playing the continuous skeptic and time traveling Ichabod Crane (Tom Mison) as the true believer. Like Mulder and Scully, the show's best part is Ichabod's unrelenting support.
In this week's third episode, "For the Triumph of Evil...," the sandman demon drives anyone who pretended they never saw the white demon god to insanity. By inducing sleep and with Ichabod's support, Abbie avoids the sandy touch by admitting she lied to avoid mental asylum incarceration. However, forget about that, the best part surrounded Abbie and Ichabod's deepening friendship. Who didn't squee when Ichabod swigged the elixir to keep Abbie from facing it alone? Who doesn't squee when he partically reads her mind and cares for her well-being over his.
While, like 'X-Files,' the show's best part is its leads, the worst part remains the framing and the pacing. At week three, Abbie and Ichabod continue running from one Scooby mystery to the next without linking the sub-demons to the overarching mystery. Although part 'X-Files' and part 'Buffy' it lacks the clearly defined framing device which drove those shows. We understood why vampires appeared in Sunnydale and why the locals ignored them. But, here, we have no such explanation for sleepy hollow folk. I get it. The four horsemen are coming, but who is the overarching demon god? How does the horseman relate to the white demon god? Why are the four horsemen restricted to Sleepy Hollow? Why, if they want to bring about the apocalypse, do they constrain themselves to that tiny area? Also, if they want Witnesses (capital W) why do they continue to kill the people who can corroborate their existence? Why do the four horsemen only resurrect past evils in the Sleepy Hollow area?
My questions don't stop at the ovearching plot. What about continuity and inconsistencies introduced by the lack of episodic connection? Where's the headless horseman and his Cho-sidekick this week? Is the horseman off causing mayhem elsewhere? If so, why haven't surrounding towns noticed? Why hasn't anyone noticed a missing dead body stealing a police cruiser? If Ichabod and Abbie are just Witnesses, are they supposed to stop it or just watch? While Abbie claims she never told anyone she lied about not seeing the demon; um, didn't she discuss that last week and the week before? Why is Abbie down on her sister for doing what she did as a kid? Why has he designated himself her perfect cheerleader? Why would a detective put a sign in his Captain's office, when his captain hasn't revealed he's a believer? By Abbie's desk, yes, it makes sense, but the captain's? It doesn't. Plus, I doubt the police would commit two teenage girls found in the woods after four days absence to insanity if they claimed to see a demon. I'd just assume they'd toked up, experienced a mild version of hypothermia, or did see a creepy white guy with crappy skin who did something unmentionable to them, hence their terror and desire to call him a demon. And, how the hell did Abbie's sister change two skin tones lighter?
Although I love Abbie's relationship with Ichabod, I still don't understand their modern-day connection. It looks like the Captain elevated her to handle any Sleepy Hollow X-Files. But, did he ever explicitly state it? If he hasn't, what is Abbie's job and why does she alternate between a uniform and plain clothes? Doesn't she have open cases? If hanging out with Ichabod her only assignment now, can the taxpayers afford taking a good cop off active cases (and can they afford keeping Ichabod at the motel indefinitely)? While I doubt a police lead would make a time traveling lunatic a liason that easily and I love Ichabod's unrelenting affection, why can he break Abbie (and her sister) so easily (and why don't we see more emotion from Abbie when breaking)? Refusing to slowdown the breakneck pace without slowing down the 'fun' for emotions which is a bad idea. All the same, why is Ichabod so attached to Abbie outside the Witness jurisdiction? I loved that he ran into danger upon hearing gunfire, but he's an old school soldier and Abbie's a new school cop. What could he have done?
Speaking of questioning Ichabod, although I love his new renaissance man, liberal mentality, sometimes he's TOO liberal. As a person who formerly studied 18th century British literature, I've discovered even the most enlightened minds said the dumbest things concerning race and culture. Have you read Ben Franklin's autobiography and his comments about Native Americans? Have you read Hume's comments on African culture? Exactly. So, making Ichabod the friend of all African slaves and now all persecuted Native Americans makes me roll my eyes. After all, any upper-class white man would've already noticed the deliberate Native American expulsion at that period. Although pro-Indian in 1769 in 1779 Washington reversed his stance. All the same, Ichabod's covert acceptance of weirdness and contemporary realities helps forward the plot without exclaiming when he meets a new culture. This applies to his lack of discomfort surrounding nudity. While a man of his era should've blushed at Abbie's heaving bosom and sports bra, he didn't. He just took his nakedness and hers for granted while appearing more concerned for her well-being after their mutual dream, which I loved. I won't lie, seeing a topless Ichabod and Abbie made me squee.
Despite my nay-saying, I tune in every week to watch Mison's insane chemistry with Beharie. In fact, 'Sleepy Hollow' isn't just 'X-Files,' it also pulls from a lot of other supernatural partnerships like 'Castle' (the male civilian and the female cop),'Supernatural' (the demon-hunting brothers), 'Haven' (the female FBI agent turned cop and her supernaturally troubled partner) and 'Buffy' (no explanation needed). In fact, my derisive obsession for 'Sleepy Hollow' matches another show I love, 'Supersizers' (2007-2009), a British docu-comedy following a hot lesbian comedian (when aren't they), Sue Perkins, and a hot British restaurant critic, Giles Coren, as they undergo historical gastronomy. Each week, they dress in period clothes, get drunk, snog inappropriately and snark on their surroundings. Basically, nothing happens; but I watch obsessively because they're so damn hot, so damn funny and so incredibly amazing together. Literally, they could discuss paint drying and I'd watch it. That's how I feel about 'Sleepy Hollow.' The plot and pace (the two Ps) are respectively terrible, muddled, and rushed. Yet, on a weekly basis, I watch Ichabod rock period clothes while flashing back on his historical past. Although nothing happens outside the weekly big bad, I live for moments when Abbie and Ichabod snark on each other and against others while useless crap happens around them. Seriously, everytime Ichabod turns on his big blue cow eyes and acts like Abbie's best gay friend, I squee. While I love the addition of Ichabod's wife, Abbie's boyfriend and Abbie's sister to the cast, I don't want anything disrupting their ebony and ivory/skeptical Scully and believing Mulder relationship.
So, while the show needs dialogue/pacing/directing improvement, as long as the Crane/Mills Scully/Mulder connection remains, I'll probably continue watching. How about you?
Photo Credits: Fox