To the surprise of many, Sleeping Hollow was picked up by Fox in 2013 and officially premiered that same year in September. Based on the 1999 film starring Johnny Depp, it followed Ichabod Crane who was sent to Sleepy Hollow to investigate the beheadings of several people, allegedly killed by The Headless Horseman. Prior to the show’s premiere, many were skeptical of the TV series, as the premise of the film seemed simple and thin for a full TV show. So when the series received positive reviews, it was a strong signal that the showrunner and the writers really figured out how to make the premise fit for the small screen. Sleeping Hollow the first season was a solid freshman season, while the focus wasn’t so much on the Headless Horseman, the writers wisely played with the mythology of the world of Sleepy Hollow. Plus, the chemistry between Tom Mison and Nicole Beharie was amazing.
Then season two arrived. The first episode of the second season gave the series an incredible start, but the noticeable quality declined due to inconsistent writing. In response to the drop in ratings, Fox reportedly wanted the series to feature a monster aspect of the week, which notably hampered the overall arc of season two. Also, the introduction of Ichabod’s wife Katrina Cane was a bit of a mess and the story of the devil’s son was hit or miss. Still, the chemistry of the protagonists moved the show forward, and there’s no denying that there were some fun moments along the way. Original showrunner Mark Goffman left the series, and Clifton Campbell came on board for season three.
Unfortunately, that didn’t help the quality of the show. For no apparent reason, Orlando Jones was left out of the series despite it being one of the best parts of Sleeping Hollow from the beginning. The series introduced some new characters; However, they were all pale compared to the original cast members. The sloppy writing continued noticeably throughout season three, although the biggest insult came in the season finale: Abbie Mills was killed. Once the credits rolled, it wasn’t exactly clear that her character was dead; However, when the audience realized that one of the mainstays of the series had been removed from the program, the audience was pissed off.
It wasn’t just the insulting way Nicole Beharie’s character was killed. As I said before, she and Tom Mison were the backbone of Sleeping Hollow and there was no valid reason to murder Beharie’s character. Since then, the real reasoning behind Beharie’s exit emerged when the original actor revealed in an interview with The Times that she had an autoimmune disease. It wasn’t just Beharie and Mison’s chemistry, it was the fact that these two characters were well written. Ichabod’s know-it-all fishy character out of the water blended perfectly with Mills’ sense and badassery. The comedy between the two was perfectly balanced, and the dramatic scenes added dimension to both Mills and Ichabod. In season three, Sleeping Hollow no longer felt fun. The series took a more serial approach which resulted in bland writing and boring moments. Season three wasn’t that bad as there were some fun moments throughout, but it was easily the worst season so far.
Then season four arrived. A new cast (except Ichabod by Mison and Jenny Mills by Lyndie Greenwood) and a new location; However, the show just couldn’t recapture the magic of Beharie and Ichabod. By comparison, the new characters were bland substitutes and the writing didn’t help draw audiences to the new crew as Beharie’s exit remained a dark cloud throughout the season. In truth, Sleeping Hollow never really found its place as a series. The show was at its best when it had a one-season arc that allowed for character growth and introduced fun additions to the show. As much as I give Beharie and Mison credit, the overall cast was top notch. From John Cho’s Andy Brooks to Clancy Brown’s August Corbin, the cast of the first two seasons brought an undeniable energy that uplifted the show.
The series eventually lost its way and the continuous changes effectively killed all the momentum. Whether it’s the disappearance of the original characters, the change in tone and sloppy writing, the quality of Sleeping Hollow slipped after each season and the series was a shell of itself by season four. This show turned out to be such a disappointment because it started off so well. It is to be congratulated that Sleeping Hollow was better than he was allowed to be. It’s just too bad it ends with a moan.