The box of non- de­lights

SFX - - Viewscreen -

UK Broad­cast Uni­ver­sal Chan­nel, Thurs­days US Broad­cast Fox, fin­ished Episodes Re­viewed 3.01- 3.18

Some­times a show is only as good as its Big Bad. For its first two sea­sons, Sleepy Hol­low had one of the most fa­mous Big Bads of them all: the Head­less Horse­man from Wash­ing­ton Irv­ing’s clas­sic tale The Leg­end Of Sleepy Hol­low. Around this nasty chap and his hooved com­pan­ion the writ­ers wove a das­tardly plot to bring a de­mon named Moloch into our world, and in do­ing so they had a lot of fun.

Un­for­tu­nately, with Moloch de­feated, the Horse­man un­sad­dled and all their lack­eys gone – in­clud­ing Ich­a­bod Crane’s wife and son – Sleepy Hol­low’s choice of vil­lain for its third year has been an ab­so­lute dis­as­ter. In the­ory you’d think Pan­dora ( you know, the woman with the box) would bring a gold­mine of un­nerv­ing ma­te­rial; she’s in charge of all our sins, af­ter all. But in­stead we sim­ply get ac­tress Shan­nyn Sos­sa­mon talk­ing to her­self in a breathy whis­per for episode af­ter episode af­ter episode.

Crim­i­nally, this year has also man­aged to flunk its flash­backs. The ad­di­tion of orig­i­nal US flag- maker Betsy Ross as Ich­a­bod’s 18th- cen­tury part­ner- in- crime was prob­a­bly sup­posed to add some chem­istry, but the pair fizz to­gether about as much as an Alka- Seltzer in the desert. Af­ter a while your heart sinks when­ever you re­alise Ich­a­bod’s about to rem­i­nisce about the past – which means the “present” plots have to be damn fine to make up for it.

Thank­fully, as is al­ways the case with Sleepy Hol­low, things perk up when­ever Ich­a­bod and Ab­bie do their dou­ble- act. He’s still hi­lar­i­ously stiff and Bri­tish; she’s still a force of na­ture. Ab­bie’s sis­ter Jenny and new beau Joe are also fun to watch.

But for all the one- lin­ers, in­ven­tive mon­sters and un­de­ni­able charisma of the main cast, noth­ing can re­ally com­pen­sate for the black hole of dull that is Pan­dora. Even when she con­jures an­other bad­die, the Hid­den One, who then starts wreak­ing havoc, she still man­ages to suck the life out of ev­ery plot. Af­ter a while Sleepy Hol­low starts to live up to its name – you just might start snoring. Jayne Nel­son

Some barn dances get out of hand…

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