5 Reasons To Watch Sleepy Hollow

It’s that time of year again, when US TV networks premiere the most-anticipated new programming for the fall – and so, as the season changes to autumnal golds and Halloween approaches, Sleepy Hollow is hitting our screens. This modern adaptation of Washington Irving’s 1820 American fable, about a Hessian soldier who rises from the grave as the dreaded Headless Horseman, premiered in the US with the highest ratings for a pilot on FOX in seven years. So, why should you tune in when series 1 begins on 9 October on the UK’s Universal Channel?

1. The Story

Irving’s horror story may have been a simple tale about country bumpkins and superstition, but the axe-wielding Headless Horseman and his wryly clever adversary Ichabod Crane captured the collective mind of the public. It has gone on to become an American classic and all-round Halloween favourite, spawning cartoons, merchandise, and films – not least Tim Burton’s 1999 movie Sleepy Hollow. But for this adaptation, we find ourselves fast-forwarding 250 years into the future where Ichabod Crane awakes in the present day. Daunted by the new world around him and the mystery of how he came to be here, little does he know that his problems are only just beginning. An old enemy has awoken with him, promising horror, action, and adventure in this fantasy show that builds its own mythology on top of the original story.

2. The Cast

The unlikely duo facing a centuries' old evil.

The unlikely duo facing a centuries’ old evil.

Ichabod Crane has had an interesting journey. Starting off as a lanky schoolmaster and taking a detour via New York constable Johnny Depp, he now finds himself being played by charismatic British actor Tom Mison (Parade’s End) as a former Revolutionary War soldier. Mison has starred alongside Keira Knightley and will be a familiar face to fans of the tongue-in-cheek Lost in Austen, where he played dashing Mr Bingley. Nicole Beharie (The Good Wife) is the perfect foil to fish-out-of-water Ichabod, as Abbie Archer, a savvy and ambitious detective investigating mysterious beheadings. Beharie previously starred alongside Michael Fassbender and Carey Mulligan in the critically-acclaimed 2011 drama, Shame. And the reluctant duo are also joined by comedy writer and actor Orlando Jones (Evolution), as sceptical police captain Frank Irving.

3. The Director

The executive producer of the show, Len Wiseman, directed the first episode. Wiseman has worked on big-budget action films, Independence Day and Men In Black to name a few, but he is best known for his directorial outings in Total Recall (2012) and the Underworld franchise. He is well-versed in taking staid horror tropes and updating them as action-packed adventure stories, and when coupled with a background in mega-budget action it’s clear the Sleepy Hollow producers want to bring a more filmic look to the smaller demands of network television – which is evident in the opening Revolutionary War battle sequences. This ambitious visual style, however, is just one of the interesting things happening behind the scenes. The writing staff is also intriguing, and includes The West Wing writer Mark Goffman and Chitra Elizabeth of Southland.

4. The Look

Speaking of said battle sequences, the show manages to balance a generous budget with a talented SFX team who bring to life these more ambitious scenes with authenticity. Outside of the large set-pieces, the show has scenes of magic and creepy CGI that suggest the Headless Horseman may not be the only villain Ichabod and Abbie have to face.

5. The Fans

Taking a beloved historical tale and updating it as a fantastical action story with a populist premise could potentially have not gone down too well with the US public, but Sleepy Hollow has managed to retain its high ratings since the first episode, even up against stiff competition from reality show The Voice. But it’s not just the ratings that make the show so popular. When the first two episodes aired, Twitter instantly buzzed with funny quotes, fan art, and wry observations about the show and characters from fans who love the banter between the leads.

As the evenings roll in and the witching hour approaches, Sleepy Hollow offers action, adventure, mystery, magic and more than a few beheadings. Take a peek at the trailer below!

Sleepy Hollow Series 1 begins on 9 October 2013 in the UK on the Universal Channel.