Thursday, May 11, 2017

The Deterioration of 'Sleepy Hollow'

In 2013, a TV series called Sleepy Hollow – an absolutely batshit reinvention/adaptation of a short story written by Washington Irving (i.e. “The Legend of Sleepy Hollow”) – kicked off.  Surprisingly, it turned out being highly entertaining.

It depicts Ichabod Crane as a secret agent for George Washington, who wasn’t just leading the Colonies in their War for Independence but also a secret war against supernatural evil forces.  Fast forward more than two centuries later, Crane mysteriously wakes up in 2013 – as a result of a spell cast on him by his witch wife – in the town of Sleepy Hollow.  He teams up with local police officer Lt. Abbie Mills to continue the fight against those who would want to bring the Apocalypse to the world.  Meanwhile, the Headless Horseman, Crane’s mortal foe, also gets reanimated in the present, keen to take his vengeance.

That was how the first season started off.  Despite being utterly crazy and dumb, it managed to work.  Throughout the season, the show utilized elements from the Bible, history, and mythology to create ludicrous but effectively engrossing storylines, containing genuine scary moments and well-executed twists.  It also had tons of humor – a majority of which was brought about by Ichabod’s interactions with modern technology and practices (a major reason why he was my most favorite TV character that year).  Actor Tom Mison was extremely charming, and every second of screen time he shared with co-star Nicole Beharie, whom he had an impeccable chemistry with, was a delight to watch.  The rest of the cast was great, too.  It was particularly awesome how they could speak and act out what was written on the script with a straight face, regardless of how bonkers and goofy it was.
Plus, there was a heavily-armed Headless Horseman.  It was the personification of perfection.
However, as early as the latter half of season one, I felt that the series was gradually losing steam.  But it still wrapped up solidly, so I was still on board for season two.  But season two got convoluted and messy, with long stretches where it was even shockingly boring.

Thus, what originally was a ridiculous-and-fun show just became ridiculous.  Gone was the fun.

The disappointing, lackluster sophomore season brought this show to the bottom of my “to watch” list.  By the time the third season rolled in, I already had a lot of much better shows to spend my time on.  I didn’t felt Sleepy Hollow was worth following anymore.
And I was right.  It tried to right itself by shifting to a new, different story arc in season 3 – but it failed.  It just continued with its downward spiral.  Whenever I passed by articles and reviews about its third season, they were all about how far the show had fallen from grace.  The writing only got more horrendous.  There was some behind-the-scenes dissatisfaction happening with Nicole Beharie, and her character was killed off.  By season’s end, even its most die-hard of fans had written the show off.

Still, it mindbogglingly got a season four.

But a fifth season has been thrown out the window, thank goodness, as it was recently announced that the series is officially cancelled.  So, for old times’ sake, I decided to watch the season 4 finale that aired earlier this year – which, being the last episode, would now serve as the series finale as well.
Man, it was painfully godawful.  It was devoid of any fun, sense, or appeal.  Terrible dialogue and hammy performances stood out.  Even Tom Mison’s charm couldn’t do anything for it.  If this episode reflects the rest of season 4 – which I haven’t watched, obviously – then it’s probable that the ones left still watching the show were either masochists or the most dedicated of hate-watchers.

To sum it up, Sleepy Hollow is a prime example of a TV series that starts out as an unexpected gem, gradually deteriorates, until it has become a pile of crap in the end.

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