Sleepy Hollow: The Book, The Comic, The DVD

Sleepy Hollow Season 1

I’ve been looking forward to the return of Sleepy Hollow. It’s a terrific adventure show with something for everyone. I haven’t wanted to start Season 2, though, until I finished up Season 1.

Ichabod Crane (Tom Mison) is killed in 1781 during the Revolutionary War by a Hessian mercenary, but since his wife (Katia Winter) is a witch, he rises from the dead in modern-day Sleepy Hollow, New York. Unfortunately, his killer has become the demonic Headless Horseman, so Ichabod teams up with police officer Abbie Mills (Nicole Beharie) to find out what’s happening, stop the supernatural bad guys, and save the world.

There’s horror — all kinds, from outright monsters to haunted houses to more subtle mental fears — and comedy (particularly when Crane encounters a particularly odd part of modern life), suspense, mystery, and teamwork. Mison plays admirably old-school heroic (the British accent helps) while Beharie is determined and strong and caring and fearless, with a mystical history of her own. They’re truly partners, helping each other to win through against the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse, trusting each other in spite of their very different backgrounds. When they first meet, Crane gets off on the wrong foot by referring to her as an emancipated slave, since that’s the only thing he can assume about a black woman with a badge, but he soon learns much more about our world.

Sleepy Hollow Season 1

It’s also great to see Abbie with her sister Jenny (Lyndie Greenwood). They have severe disagreements, but eventually, they’re able to appreciate each other, and it’s a pleasure to see such a complex relationship between two strong women. The interactions among the cast are outstanding, particularly with Orlando Jones as Abbie’s boss, a man who slowly comes to accept the weirdness while trying to protect his daughter and atone for the times he left her and her mother alone.

The show does a good job of balancing the overall mythology — the battle against the Horseman — with specific challenges in individual episodes — such as when a boy from the lost colony of Roanoke carries a plague to Sleepy Hollow, or they fight that episode’s demon or other supernatural threat. As the season continues, we learn more about Ichabod’s history, with flashbacks to his prior life and time with his wife as he seeks to free her from Purgatory.

There’s a lot in this series. They’re not skimpy with ideas or revelations, making for an enjoyable roller-coaster ride with characters you can care about, spooky twists, and some gorgeous scenery. The first season, 13 episodes, is available on DVD now.

DVD Special Features

There’s a commentary for the pilot episode, but it’s directors, writers, and producers, not cast, so much of it is about details of filming that I didn’t find particularly insightful. (I did like the comment that they aimed for a look that was not gloomy or despressing but colorful and vibrant, since that’s the kind of positive approach I look for in my entertainment.) I much preferred the final episode discussion with Mison and Beharie, as well as a couple of producers.

Sleepy Hollow cast

The two longer features are similar. “Welcome to Sleepy Hollow” (21 minutes) opens with a spoiler warning, since it covers the whole of the first season. The producers and cast members talk about the origin of the series and casting (see Mison without his wig!) and shooting the pilot, particularly the historical segments. “Mysteries and Mythology: The Secrets of Sleepy Hollow” (19 minutes) is similar but discusses the characters and being able to continue the story after the pilot. They do quick check-ins with many of the episodes and key elements (whether villain or monster or setting).

The Deleted Scenes run nine minutes for nine scenes, although individual length varies. The most substantial is one that focuses on Jenny getting out of the asylum and speaking with a parole officer about her previous travel.

“The Corbin Files” are 2 1/2 minutes of the former sheriff’s audio recordings about his research into the oddities of Sleepy Hollow. The last four items run between two and three minutes each. “Welcome to the 21st Century, Mr. Crane” is a series of show clips where Ichabod experiences the modern era. “The Horseman” is about the animals used in filming. “The Horseman’s Head” covers the special effects involving the skulls. There’s also a gag reel, of which my favorite part was Mison having trouble with log-splitting.

The Books

To tie into the DVD release and the return of the show (on Fox Mondays), there are two new books out. I haven’t read Sleepy Hollow: Children of the Revolution, an original story with the characters, but the opening sample chapter seems to capture the flavor of the series.

The Secret Journal of Ichabod Crane

I did read The Secret Journal of Ichabod Crane by Alex Irvine, a faux notebook of Crane’s thoughts (provided as a review copy). It’s faithful to the character’s voice, written as the thoughts of a man from almost 250 years ago trying to process the events and setting of our modern day.

Many of the scenes will be familiar to viewers of the series (and I’m not sure why someone who wasn’t watching would want to read this), but it’s fun getting another, more interior take on Crane’s initial arrest or his determination to answer the mysteries of his existence. The elaborations are often recaps, but all have at least a new detail of interpretation.

The vocabulary is charming, a stretch for some as the words are flavorfully old-fashioned and the phrasing archaic. The journal is also populated with sketches of show locations and characters as well as reproduced files and clippings relating to the premise.

My favorite bits, as above, are those where Crane muses on the modern world, even beyond what we’ve seen on the show. He discovers how wonderful a hot shower can be and bemoans the treatment of the Indians in the years since his time. He views the internet skeptically but quite rightly decries the use of “impact” as a verb. He encounters a Tea Party member and children dressed up for Halloween and the rituals of Thanksgiving, including shopping and football. The Secret Journal of Ichabod Crane made a good companion to the Season One DVD.

The Comic

Sleepy Hollow #1 cover by Phil Noto

Boom! Studios has put out the first issue of a Sleepy Hollow comic written by Marguerite Bennett and drawn by Jorge Coelho. Like one of the novels, it’s a new story with the characters.

A child gains super-strength to protect her brother, but she seems possessed when questioned. Another woman thinks she has healing powers, but they quickly go out of control.

The dialogue is in keeping with the show, but unfortunately, the figures don’t look right to me. It’s not the likenesses, although Crane is better than Abbie, but the way they move and the attitudes and expressions with which they’re portrayed. The visual storytelling wasn’t always as clear as I would have liked, but when it’s so easy to re-watch the show, I find myself having very high standards for comic adaptations.

There are several references in the story that aren’t explained for new readers, either. If I hadn’t read it while rewatching, I wouldn’t have recalled who Serilda was or the details of her story, and there’s an earlier reference to a broken timepiece that I clearly haven’t gotten to yet in the show, because I don’t know what it means. The story seems abbreviated, as though it would have been better told in two issues instead of crammed into only one. Particularly since our heroes reference a triad but only after we’ve seen two examples, which left me confused throughout.

The two-page backup “Movie Night” by Noelle Stevenson is much truer to the characters and a better tale. She does an excellent job of capturing the appeal of their interaction in just a couple of pages, and her caricatures feel more like the characters I enjoy watching.

Random Final Note

While rewatching, I noticed that the two main characters have the same hairstyle at the beginning — top part pulled back, back left free, with a couple of front strands loose to frame the face. I don’t know what it’s called, officially, although I wear it myself often. Later in the series, though, Abbie’s hair is most often down, without any ties.


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