Sleepy Hol­low

A lit­tle bit of his­tory re­peat­ing

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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.

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