Sleepy Hollow ep 1

”Welcome to the 21st century, Mr Crane.”

Yep, the hero of Fox’s new hit drama is a temporarily bewildered but resourceful English fellow (with great hair) who’s just woken up in the here and now, after dying in the way back then. The villain, meanwhile may or may not be the personification of “Death itself”, and the end of the world may be nigh.

Right….

But for all it’s fantastical trappings and desperately high stakes, Sleepy Hollow follows some pretty recognisable templates: we’ve got a sensible, female cop working with a slightly mad “civilian consultant” – who, okay, is on temporary secondment from 250 years ago – to try and solve the season-long mystery arc (or, okay, prevent armageddon), one wacky murder at a time. Since the Headless Horseman likes to spread the, er, headlessness around, it’s pretty bloody for network tv, and most of it takes place in literal as well as metaphorical darkness (because demons and the dead are always more convincing when you can’t see them all that well) but, underneath all that, it’s the age-old odd couple procedural: a smart, brave, obsessive, mismatched yet perfectly matched duo determined to solve a (supernatural) crime, with a smidgeon of witty banter and a side of sexual chemistry to go. Like 90% of procedural drama on tv.

Is it any good, though? Um…. maybe. Crane, I like a lot, Abby the cop, not so much. And all the death and demon stuff gets a bit stodgy. But the flashes of humour in the first episode leaven the mix considerably; there’s potential for a fun little series here (although a “7 year period of tribulations” seems a tad over-ambitious) if they don’t let the show take itself too seriously. I don’t think I’ll be writing weekly reviews, but I liked it – well, I liked Crane – well enough to watch it again and hope it builds on that promise rather than disappearing up its own apocalypse.

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Public Service Announcement 42 of 2013: Sleepy Hollow, Breathless

Less than a month after it began in the US, supernatural fantasy drama Sleepy Hollow begins tonight (Wednesday) at 9pm on the UK’s Universal channel. “Tall, dark and British” (and also quite handsome, to be honest) Tom Mison plays Ichabod Crane – yes, that Ichabod Crane – who wakes up in modern Sleepy Hollow, 250 years after his death, only to find his old buddy the Headless Horseman’s had the same idea, with dire consequences for the townsfolk and the local cops. If the premise sounds off-the-wall, that’s clearly because it is, but the show’s been such a wild success in the US that a second season has already been commissioned so it’s worth a look if you like your procedurals dark and full of literal demons as opposed to the usual more prosaic ones. I’m on reviewing duties for the first ep.

Tomorrow (Thursday) night meanwhile brings with it a much more down-to-earth proposition in the form of period medical drama Breathless, starting on ITV1 at 9pm. Set in 1961, before the legalisation of abortion, the show focusses on the lives of doctors and nurses in a gynaecology ward, and I could pretend to you that I’m watching it hoping for a profound examination of sexual politics and the evolution of healthcare and reproductive medicine as viewed through the prism of the 1960s, but let’s be honest: I’m watching it because Jack Davenport’s in it. Otherwise, I’d – rightly or wrongly – be dismissing it as Dr Heartbeat and ignoring it completely. Since he is in it (and pulling double duty, as it happens, given that he’s in Smash at 9 o’clock on a Thursday as well) check back here for a review of ep 1 as soon as I can manage.