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Tuesday, 8 October 2013

Sleepy Hollow arrives on the Universal Channel

This week I had the pleasure of attending the preview screening for Universal Channel’s new American import Sleepy Hollow. The show has attracted excellent viewing figures in the States, helped by the biggest lauch ever coordinated by Fox TV. So did it live up to the hype?

In short, yes. Maybe it was the free wine and teeny weeny blinis I was plyed with, but I’m sure Universal have a real smash hit with Sleepy Hollow. Here’s 6 reasons why:

1)The pilot sets up the characters well, backstories, relationships and motivations are established quickly so that by the end of an action-packed episode, you are ready to get on with the story. This latest reimagining of Washington Irving’s classic novel, made famous by the movie starring Jonny Depp and directed by Tim Burton, brings the action to present day. Ichabod Crane is brought back to life by an evil magic force, awakening 250 years after his death. Unfortunately, his nemesis, the Headless Horseman, has also been brought back. After the Horseman murders police officer Abbie’s partner, she and Ichabod form an unlikely alliance to defeat their magical foe.

2) Ichabod getting used to life in the present day could have been dull, instead it’s dealt with in humorous touches. I particularly liked his reaction to Starbucks (but I’m keeping this light on spoilers so you’ll have to listen out for the line). Overall, there’s a good balance between tense drama and quick quips, making this a fun and interesting watch.

3) Scare factor: Those of a queasy disposition should be ok with Sleepy Hollow. For the initial episode at least, the director (Len Wiseman of Underworld fame) has gone for jumpy and atmospheric rather than gory. Blood doesn’t spatter the screen, though it does flow; as you might guess, the Headless Horseman is fond of decapitating those who get in his way. There are good special effects too and some lovely shots, I particularly liked when the camera panned over Sleepy Hollow. Though I think the Horse’s glowing eyes need a bit of work.

4) An American drama aimed at a youthful audience must have an attractive cast. Ichabod Crane is played by Tom Mison, the latest addition to the British Invasion, following Damian Lewis, Rupert Friend and Idris Elba. Judging by the female journos flocking round the publicity poster, Mison is set to have a legion of fans admiring his looks. The women in the cast aren’t too shabby either, Abbie Mills is played by the Good Wife star Nicole Maharie, and there is a great chemistry between the two. For those of us whose tastes run to the Christina Hendricks/ Karen Gillan end, Ichabod has a witchy wife who nails the porcelain skin, flaming hair look.

5) Is it like anything I’ve seen before?: It’s clearly aimed at fans of the Vampire Diaries, although that’s a broad church. I can see more mature adults enjoying this for escapism and a few thrills, but teenagers will love it. The shows aren’t carbon copies of each other, though I could swear the cave scene was filmed on the Vampire Diaries set, and with all the talk of witches, I did expect to see Bonnie and her Gramps pop up!

The show starts 9th October at 9pm on Universal Channel and we can safely assume that’s my Wednesday nights sorted through Autumn.

Contributed by Victoria Prior

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