TV - Sleepy Hollow Season 2

Sleepy hollow

Ren Zelen watches Season 2 of Sleepy Hollow, out now on DVD. But does she lose her head over it...

Creators: Alex Kurtzman, Roberto Orci, Phillip Iscove, Len Wiseman
Starring: Tom Mison, Nicole Beharie, Katia Winter, John Noble, Lyndie Greenwood, Matt Barr, Orlando Jones


Not having seen anything much of season one, I was asked to review the second season of the immensely popular TV fantasy show Sleepy Hollow. Throwing caution to the wind I launched myself into the ongoing story mid-flow.

I'm still not exactly sure what the enduring popularity of this American fantasy show is? Plunged headlong into the world of Sleepy Hollow, rarely have I seen such a potent mixture of hokum; cursed artefacts, occult ceremonies, pagan cults, folk myths, curses, ghosts and supernatural creatures all tossed into a soup of historical fact and stirred frantically to deliver a potage of utter daftness.

Perhaps it's actually the audacity of its goofiness that makes the show so popular? There is an odd compulsion to see what kind of batsh*t crazy plot device the writers are going to throw in next (undoubtedly accompanied by their own astonished cries and challenges of “I dare you to make them buy into THIS?”) The brazen “we’re just making this sh*t up as we go along” quality which would be a detriment elsewhere, here becomes a kind of fascination. After watching several episodes, despite noting flagrant narrative leaps and contrived conveniences, I found that I couldn’t help but admire its utter chutzpah!

I had watched a few episodes of the first season, fueled more by my curiosity regarding how many handsome British actors are now heading up American shows; Tom Mison is one of them, (although I‘m constantly forgetting his name). Mison has that fine Shakespearean-trained British diction ideal for delivering all those quaint and crusty lines American scriptwriters like to imagine an educated expatriate Brit (schoolteacher) might speak during the time that mad old King George was on the Throne in the England in 1790.

The idea of following a different story each episode works reasonably well. Every week there is a new ‘vitally important’ mythological MacGuffin to track down, which just so happens to have some connection to Ichabod’s Revolutionary War-era past. An immediate goal is established:- track down the MacGuffin, stop the forces of evil from getting it and use it to save someone before destroying it.

The larger story ark (Moloch and Henry) remains unresolved and is a little more difficult to buy into, particularly if you are coming to the show in this second series. I know it's fantasy, but the idea that the rather grave villain, weighty actor John Noble, is Ichabod Crane's faithless and occult obsessed 'son' seems chronologically as well as physically unfeasible, but of course, I’m missing some outrageous plot turn from season one.

Also, I know we see education in olden times as being inevitably superior, but Ichabod Crane still seems to have a literally, ‘incredible’ array of useful abilities (just stopping short of superhero level) and an extensive knowledge of cultures other than his own. He also got to hang out with a remarkable amount of pertinent historical figures, and besides that he is admirably devoted to his wife who is, of course, a white-witch as well as the romantic obsession of the headless horseman. Right...perhaps our suspension of disbelief here is being asked to be less of a temporary state of unquestioning credulity than a form of self-inflicted concussion.

I ascertained at the beginning of Season 2 that most of the cast have been recently released from Purgatory and are attempting to prevent an entity called Moloch from entering the world and instigating the 'End of Days'.

Into this conventional storyline there is the ingeniously devious weaving in of an enhanced version of Ichabod Crane and Sleepy Hollow, plus a pretty female police lieutenant, incongruously bringing modern procedural techniques to bear upon supernatural phenomena, and Ichabod’s witchy wife spying on their resentful ‘son’ (Woody Allen kept whispering in my head “Young Greggor's son was older than Old Greggor. Nobody could figure out how that happened”) - who is aiding evil Moloch. Yes, I am sure the creators of Sleepy Hollow have seen hundreds of videos picking apart its plots, thousands of articles about how it ‘Gets things Wrong’, myriads of IMDb goofs pages and, ‘Frankly my dear, it doesn’t give a damn’.

Admittedly, I haven't been groomed for this kind of TV show by an erstwhile diet of Buffy or Supernatural, (I'm one of the few vestiges of humanity that missed jumping on those bandwagons by being out of the country for most of the time) so I can view this stuff with the cold and sober eye of a pure soul.

Yet, I can vouch for a strange enjoyment to be found in this madness. This is a show that should never have worked. The series serves as an example of how cohesion is relative - how, if the events of a narrative follow an internal logic, however twisted that might get, if it offers likeable characters which develop and have chemistry – it has a momentum of its own and succeeds on its own terms.

Despite any problems Sleepy Hollow presents, credit must go to the aesthetically pleasing Tom Mison and Nicole Beharie, who remain the steady centre around which the mayhem revolves. Their ability to nimbly tread the wobbly line between horror and humour and maintain their buddy-style chemistry and lightweight sexual tension is the greatest asset the show has.

It may be because we like to see a preponderance of pretty people in peril, or enjoy the charm of an old-fashioned, British gentleman-hero picking his slightly outraged way through the maze of miracles and mayhem the modern world offers, or it may be because this kind of show taps into our childhood need to believe in magic, which in hard times, tends to affect us more profoundly. I really can’t offer a definitive explanation, but I for one, am glad that there are TV shows that afford the opportunity for all ages to indulge in the fun of unadulterated escapism.

Sleepy Hollow’s fantasy world may stretch one's patience to Purgatorial breaking point on occasion, but partly because of that very same thing, it can't also a be one Hell of a crazy, maniacal laugh-fest.

Copyright R.H. Zelen – ©RenZelen 2015 All rights reserved.