A little bit of history repeating
T he first season of Sleepy Hollow was a surprise treat – a madcap, breakneck concoction of culture clash comedy, supernatural action and daft historical drama. The second season is… more of the same really. But the plotting has shifted down a gear, and not for the better.
An extended episode order ( 18 as opposed to last year’s 13) is at the root of the problem. The relatively short run last year meant barely a minute went to waste, with breathless pacing, economic writing and imagination to spare. Eight eps in, season two still feels like it’s on the starting line. The arc plot in particular has crept forward with maddeningly little haste, giving the distinct impression of a half season designed to tread water.
Part of Sleepy Hollow’s joy is seeing what mad monster they’ve dreamt up, or in most cases excavated from ancient folklore. The majority of the first season’s creatures felt remarkably fresh, despite the abundance of monster- of- the- week shows that preceded it. Season two already feels like the writers are running out of ideas. A succubus, wendigo, pied piper and ersatz Frankenstein’s monster are among the monsters, none of which are used in particularly creative or interesting ways. Even ol’ headless, a previously imposing presence, has been crippled by transforming him into a lovesick sap.
Fortunately the odd couple at the heart of the show remains resolutely bulletproof. Ichabod and Abbie are as engaging and entertaining as ever, particularly Tom Mison’s plucky Brit whose “man out of time” shtick never fails to amuse. John Noble is also a supremely welcome presence as tormented Horseman Henry Parish, and makes up for a lot of the creature shortcomings elsewhere on the show.
“Sleepy” Hollow might be one of the all- time great ironic titles, but at the moment this is a show in desperate need of a wake- up call. Jordan Farley
Be careful with axes. They’ll take yer ’ ead off.