SLEEPY HOLLOW: Friday 9PM on FOX
FOX’s TV series version of SLEEPY HOLLOW is, of course, about a man who won’t stay dead, namely Ichabod Crane (Tom Mison), who died in the 18th century and was brought back in the 21st to hunt demons. For the series itself, though, having been rebooted in its 4th season as something more generic than it’s ever been before, it may be time to embrace the comfort of the grave.
As last season’s finale foreshadowed, Sleepy Hollow no longer takes place in Sleepy Hollow. Nor does it have its former leading lady Nicole Beharie, apparently at her own request (a problem when the show is a buddy series with romantic potential), nor the rest of its supporting cast aside from Lyndie Greenwood, who returns as Jenny Mills, sister of Beharie’s character. (The word is that John Noble will also be back later in the season.) Instead, Crane, having been transported to Washington DC, has by the end of the season premiere decided to stay there, and join an X-Files-ish bedraggled government group tasked with keeping track of supernatural phenomena. They consist of doofus Jake (Jerry MacKinnon) and engineering genius Alex (Rachel Melvin), who might as well be reading Happy’s dialogue from Scorpion. The new female lead, and Scully-clone, is the skeptical agent Diana Thomas (Janina Gavankar), who has a 10-year old daughter Molly (Oona Yaffe), and we can count the episodes until it’s made clear that Molly, who doesn’t speak, and who has been sketching portraits of Crane before ever meeting him, is the second “witness” Crane has been seeking. There’s also a new Big Bad in the person of billionaire Malcolm Dreyfuss (Jeremy Davies), who’s accumulating demon artifacts for dastardly reasons we haven’t yet learned..
Under new showrunner Albert Kim, it’s all proficiently set out, but in a tiresomely familiar way. Gavankar, a capable actress, simply doesn’t have the hum of chemistry with Mison that Beharie did as far back as the original pilot, and the other new agents come from a kit (as does Davies, who’s turned his quirkiness into mannerism). Greenwood, for her part, feels forced into the show’s new surroundings. Part of the new series plan is that Crane will work on cases that go beyond the Revolutionary War–the season premiere, written by Kim, was concerned with Lincoln’s assassination (the second fantasy version of that killing this TV season, after the one on Timeless last fall)–but that means that Crane has no personal insight into the cases anymore, and his tossed-off Hamilton quips feel like affectations.
It’s possible that Sleepy Hollow will survive this season. Ratings standards on Fridays are low, and FOX has further hobbled the show with a lead-in from Rosewood. To be fair, even this newly sleepy Sleepy has Mison’s charm and a fair amount of decently-executed horror action (the premiere was directed by Russell Fine, who’s an experienced hand behind the show’s camera). The show simply feels like a product in a way it didn’t before. It hasn’t lost its head, but its soul has gone missing.