Sleepy Hollow Renews Faith With Excellent Short Seasons
I wasn’t quite sure what I was getting into when Sleepy Hollow premiered on Fox in the fall: A modern tail that brings a Revolutionary War hero (Ichabod Crane) into the present day to team up with a small town cop (Abbie Mills) to unravel a mystery dating back to our founding fathers? Sure, I’ll check it out and see if I’m interested, giving into the fact that the show creators, Alex Kurtzman and Roberto Orci both had a hand in the critical success of one of my favorite sci-fi/supernatural television shows, Fringe. I should note that I’m not a huge sci-fi/supernatural guy, but I get curious with certain concepts and this is one I was one that piqued my curiosity. The pilot episode for Sleepy Hollow was a fun introduction, but I wasn’t sure if it could sustain this level of adrenaline while also sustaining a plot for an entire season. I was wrong, happily and gloriously wrong.
It helps that Sleepy Hollow’s first season is only 13 episodes. If it were to have a full, 22-episode season like the usual network show, it would have probably been a lot of stalling, teasing, and ultimately a less satisfying season, but it wasn’t. This is a perfect example of the “less is more” method of storytelling and I wish a lot of shows that have tricky concepts would use this, for its own sake, as well as the sake of the viewer. Give the full 22-episode order to the NCIS’s and Law & Orders of the world, and give shows like Sleepy Hollow, with ludicrous premises, a shorter order, with maximum creative freedom to tell a more condensed and enjoyable piece of entertainment.
I didn’t initially have faith in Sleepy Hollow, mainly because the pilot delivered a crazy premise that was fun, but seemed unsustainable over the long haul. But, because it was reported that the first season was only 13 episodes with no back order like most first season shows get (if successful enough), I wanted to stick it out for a bit to see if this was going to be something I wanted to watch. The key for me was the pairing of Ichabod Crane and Abbie Mills. The chemistry between Tom Mison and Nicole Beharie is exceptional, and that was evident in the pilot. Watching as it played out over the first season, I wanted to root for these characters, brought together to fight the oncoming Apocalypse.
My faith in this show increased the further along it went. I’m confident saying that this is my favorite new show of the broadcast network season. I find it difficult to think that whatever premieres in the coming months on the big networks will be as entertaining and as satisfying as Sleepy Hollow was during its run. It’s shows like this that give me faith in the idea that broadcast networks can deliver entertaining programming to compete with the shorter and more focused cable network offerings. This is the best example of what the future of broadcast network programming can be. Putting faith in shows like this, with shorter seasons, is a way to draw viewers in with minimal commitment to the long hall type of seasons. It’s economical for both the network and the viewer, and in my mind and it’s also the best way to do television today. Cheers to FOX and Sleepy Hollow. I look forward to season two next fall.