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Are Crane And Mills TV’s Next Investigating Duo? Sleepy Hollow Pilot Review

By on May 29, 2013
Nicole Beharie and Tom Mison in Sleepy Hollow. Image © FOX

Nicole Beharie and Tom Mison in Sleepy Hollow. Image © FOX

ScreenSpy sat down recently to screen FOX’s new supernatural Fall drama Sleepy Hollow with two concerns. What is FOX doing with the Sleepy Hollow story that hasn’t already been done before, and is there really enough material in Ichabod Crane and his Headless Horseman tale to span several seasons? We were pleasantly surprised by what we learned.

Set in 2012 in the outwardly sleepy New England town of Sleepy Hollow, Ichabod Crane (Tom Mison) awakes from a 250 year death-sleep to find the world changed. His wife is dead, slavery has been abolished, the American Revolutionary war was won and his Commander George Washington even made it to president. What hasn’t changed however, is the fact that the man Washington specifically sent Crane to kill on the battlefield, is also living (sort of) and still very much out to get him.

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But there’s more going on there than just the Sleepy Hollow legend/tale/whatever-you-want-to-call-it in modern day surroundings. The legend serves as a jumping off point for a much larger (and darker) supernatural tale. If witches, demons, time travel and demonic possession are your thing, then this show is going to hook you from its opening moments.

While we don’t want to spoil you with details that will ruin your Fall experience, we can tease that the story does not begin and end with a headless horseman terrorizing a small New England town (although the scenes in which he does are among the best in the episode). In fact, he’s just one of four supernatural entities Ichabod and co. may face this season and the true Big Bad glimpsed in the pilot’s final moments will make your skin crawl.

Tom Mison as Ichabod Crane. Image Co. CR: Kent Smith/FOX

Tom Mison as Ichabod Crane. Image Co. CR: Kent Smith/FOX

Added to this intriguing mix is another element involving the townsfolk themselves. It would appear Crane is not the only person out of time in Sleepy Hollow. Several of the townsfolk are not quite what they seem, with some harboring secrets and agendas as they work behind the scenes to hide their tracks. Not even Ichabod’s partner, the reluctant but capable officer Abbie Mills (Nicole Beharie) is immune to these connections. Her family shares a link to past events that Abbey has good reason to want to ignore, despite Cane’s’s insistence.

A show based on two investigators working shoulder to shoulder, whether it’s the X-Files or Castle, depends to a large degree on the chemistry between its leads, and both Beharie and Mison deliver subtle but very watchable performances as the wary, by the book Mills who wants nothing to do with Sleepy Hollow’s past, but goes against her better judgement by taking a chance on the uptight and cranky Crane. Mison in particular deserves praise for his pitch-perfect portrayal of an innocent abroad whose new experiences seem only to add to his sense of befuddlement and irritation.

It’s hard to say for sure where Sleepy Hollow will go in this first season ahead. (We did have a chuckle during a scene where Crane mentions a seven year tribulation. Steady on Ichabod. Let’s aim for 100 episodes and syndication first!) There’s a worrying possibility we may get monster of the week episodes with Mills and Crane investigating, but we’re hoping this won’t be the case because the deeper mystery of the show is also its most intriguing. The pilot episode has done an excellent job at setting out pieces on a board that could make for some highly entertaining and spooky viewing if played just right.

Sleepy Hollow comes to FOX from co-creators/executive producers Alex Kurtzman and Roberto Orci (Star Trek, Fringe, Transformers). The series stars Tom Mison, Nicole Beharie, Orlando Jones and Katia Winter and premieres Mondays 9:00-10:00 PM ET this Fall on FOX. Follow @ScreenSpy on Twitter | ScreenSpy on Facebook for more breaking Sleepy Hollow news and interviews.



  1. Craig

    May 31, 2013 at 12:05 am

    Looks good. Oh boy I love the summer but I can’t wait until fall hits.

  2. Pbrenneise

    May 31, 2013 at 5:01 am

    Thanks for the informative review. How would you describe the roles Abbey and Ichabod will play based on your screening of the pilot? I’ve read
    Multiple articles describing Abbey as a sheriff or a detective. Does she morph into a detective or remain more of the former? I’ve even read from one site that wven ichabod becomes a detective! I ask mainly because I hope this show carves its own path without becoming another fringe/x-files detective drama clone. Thanks again for the post!



    • Jennifer Griffin

      May 31, 2013 at 9:29 am

      Thanks Pbrennsise. Abbey is a police officer in the town of Sleepy Hollow. Ichabod is a soldier in Washington’s army. It’s not really possible to tell you what roles they WILL both play after the pilot episode because no one has seen or reviewed newer episodes (as I write) and it would be mere speculation on my part. I can tell you that Ichabod is not made a police detective during the pilot – so you may need to take what you read on that other site with a pinch of salt. What I hoped to get across in my review was that the pilot ep has deep mythology, lots of layers and great potential to go in a number of exciting directions. Like you, my hope is that the show writers don’t squander these multiple opportunities with x-files-like cases of the week, turning a spooky supernatural extravaganza into a weekly procedural that only occasionally touches on a larger season arc. Not that there’s anything wrong with procedurals. I love Supernatural, for example, but with so many pieces on the board after just one episode I want to see Crane and Archer jump right in to unraveling those mysteries. For me, they’re just too exciting to keep in the bag for later.
      My overall impression is that the pilot episode was confidently executed, genuinely scary, and full of potential … and the two leads are both gorgeous to look at, if that’s not too shallow to add!