Katia Winter in FOX’s “Sleepy Hollow”
It’s been a good hour since we started working on this review and we’ve had a hard time committing to our opening statement, even though we believe it to be true. But here goes, as hard as it is for us to say:
What a freaking mess that was.
We really wanted to believe that this two-parter was going to pay off a lot of the ill-advised storytelling of this season, and we suspect the show creators think that’s exactly what they’ve done, but except for one or two bits where things got a little exciting or a little batpoop-crazy for a moment, this was definitely a landing the show failed to stick. Big time.
And in a way, we just don’t want to write this review, because not only have we said it all before, but so has practically any other TV critic writing about the show this season. But for the late arrivals, here it is, all over again: Katrina is a deadly dull character. Henry is a deadly dull character. The show has turned an apocalyptic tale spanning millenia into a tiresome and repetitive family drama. All of the more interesting supporting characters have been sidelined. The gothic horror and unique look of the show has all but disappeared and many of the monsters this season (including Moloch) have a generic “Supernatural” look to them. The only element of the show that has been retained from season one is the relationship between Abbie and Crane, but it’s not enough to hang an entire series on. Especially when you force much less interesting characters like Katrina and Hawley on the audience and expect them to work as credible threats to that relationship and that chemistry. All around, season two of Sleepy Hollow has been, we’re sorry to say, an epic flop.
We can’t imagine the difficulties TV creators face when they have to craft their sophomore season. In many ways, it must be the hardest season to pull off; especially if your first season was a hit. Expectations are high and you’re faced with the task of defining a world and a set of characters in much greater depth than you did the first time, since you weren’t sure the show would even survive the first season. But the problem with season 2 hasn’t been so much a poor job of defining the characters; it’s been focused on the wrong characters entirely.
It occurs to us now that a lot of our bad feelings about this “mid-season finale” (ugh) might have evaporated if the right characters had wound up dead at the end. Frank hasn’t been the most compelling character this season (although he showed what he was capable of this episode) but he’s been miles ahead of Katrina, Henry and Abraham as someone the audience wants to spend time with. Abraham started off as pure a figure of horror as you could ask for on network TV and now he’s just some toffee-nosed, lovestruck whiner. Katrina has done nothing this season but prove herself to be useless, sometimes stupid, and always untrustworthy. Henry’s last-minute act of heroism was heavily foreshadowed all season and yet, with all that time to set it up, it came off as an abrupt and hard-to-believe turn of events. Hawley flamed out pretty spectacularly. You could feel the writers losing interest in him with each passing scene he appeared in. At the rate they’re going, some time within the next two or three appearances of the character, he’ll have a “LOSER” sign taped to his back. Jenny and Frank were sidelined, Reyes turned out to be a big nothing and… that’s pretty much it for the cast. Literally the entire story rests on the chemistry between its two leads.
And another thing: Didn’t the whole “Moloch is walking the earth” thing feel like we just jumped ahead to the climax of the story? Isn’t it a bit early in the story to be faced with literal Hell on Earth? We’re roughly 20 episodes into a theoretically open-ended series and we’re dealing with the end game already. It never felt as urgent as the characters were feeling simply because we know we’ve got at least an entire half season ahead of us. Weren’t there supposed to be years of trials before the end or something? We enjoyed the more energetic pace and the sense of true urgency on the part of the characters after such a lethargic and repetitive half-season, but it still felt pretty unearned and rushed.
We’ll say it once again: in order for this show to right itself, it needs to focus on expanding the cast and the setting considerably and it desperately needs to cut the dead weight from the story. That means bye-bye, Katrina and Henry. Ichabod would be far more interesting as a tragic, haunted hero rather than a husband and father with an unruly family. We also need to STOP SEEING THE FREAKING HEADLESS HORSEMAN’S HEAD. Isn’t that, we don’t know, FREAKING OBVIOUS?
Bleh. We’ll be back in January, with mild hopes that they can pull their act together for the second half. That’s about all we can muster.
[Picture credit: Brownie Harris/FOX]