Any­thing but sleepy

Funny and fright­en­ing in equal mea­sure, Sleepy Hol­low is one of the pleas­ant sur­prises of 2013. Guy Davis talks time- travel and head­less horse­men with the show’s star, Tom Mi­son.

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Ihave to ad­mit, my ex­pec­ta­tions for Sleepy Hol­low weren’t all that great when I first heard about it.

There’s noth­ing wrong with re­vamp­ing or rein­ter­pret­ing an old clas­sic, of course, but trans­form­ing Wash­ing­ton Irv­ing’s spooky short story about a school­teacher pur­sued by a malev­o­lent head­less horse­man into a time- trav­el­ling su­per­nat­u­ral mys­tery? Well, that could go ei­ther way.

But wait, there’s more! The school­teacher, named Ich­a­bod Crane, has been trans­formed into a gen­tle­manly scholar, sol­dier and spy fight­ing dur­ing the Amer­i­can Rev­o­lu­tion when some mag­i­cal mis­chief saw him put into a very, very deep sleep, from which he would awaken some two cen­turies later.

And his head­less neme­sis? He also spent over 200 years snooz­ing as well, only to wake up in the 21st cen­tury and start wreaking havoc in the mod­ern- day town of Sleepy Hol­low.

By the way, the horse­man isn’t work­ing alone. He’s one of four … as in the Four Horse­men of the Apoc­a­lypse.

Not many peo­ple th­ese days are in­clined to be­lieve Ich­a­bod’s tales of im­pend­ing doom, es­pe­cially when they’re com­ing from a chap who looks, sounds and dresses like he’s straight out of the 1700s.

How­ever our hero finds

Ian un­likely ally in po­lice of­fi­cer Ab­bie Mills, who has ex­pe­ri­enced enough strange phe­nom­ena in her life­time to give Ich­a­bod the ben­e­fit of the doubt. Up to a point, at least.

That’s a lot of mythol­ogy and in­for­ma­tion to take in, and it would have been aw­fully easy for Sleepy Hol­low to drop one or more of the many balls it was jug­gling.

But so far it’s kept them all in the air, and proven to

Mi­son: “It’s try­ing to work out how moody some­one would be when they come out of the ground af­ter 200 years.”

be pretty en­ter­tain­ing while do­ing so.

Sleepy Hol­low, air­ing in Aus­tralia on Net­work Ten, has emerged as one of the new hits of the year, and the deft way it com­bines chills with a sly, self- aware wit is a big part of its suc­cess.

But another fac­tor is the un­de­ni­able chem­istry be­tween its two leads. As Ab­bie, Ni­cole Be­harie is a smart, no- non­sense hero­ine who is open- minded enough to em­brace the weird­ness of the story’s un­fold­ing events and tough enough to take on any strange vil­lain who comes out of the wood­work.

And UK ac­tor Tom Mi­son is a treat as Ich­a­bod. Rather than play the char­ac­ter as a be­wil­dered fish- out- of- wa­ter type, he’s made him ca­pa­ble and charm­ing, usu­ally flum­moxed by some of the mod­ern things he en­coun­ters but of­ten able to use his en­cy­clopaedic knowl­edge and di­verse set of skills to over­come any ob­sta­cle.

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