Trompé Setsuled (setsuled) wrote,
Trompé Setsuled

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Why Bother with the 18th Century if George Washington Isn't Involved?

I've been seeing this new Sleepy Hollow getting talked about on io9 where a couple writers seem to be thoroughly ecstatic about it. It seemed like some of it may be due to bribery since the articles feature a couple statements that are simply too ridiculous to take at face value, like this article which asks, "How will the Sleepy Hollow show be different than Tim Burton's movie?" As though that's where it all began. The interview is with executive producer Len Wiseman;

But he was attracted to the idea of trying to find a new take on this story and get back to its roots. "In the original Washington Irving story, the origin of Headless — he's created in a battle of the Revolutionary War, which is something that we were able to depict in ours. There's a battle scene."

I like to think I'm not such a sourpuss. I can enjoy a pastiche. I like Hammer movies. I thought maybe I should come down off my obstinate plough-horse ("Gunpowder") and give this show a chance.

First of all, this show in no way takes the story back to its roots. I would put money on this being the most divergent adaptation ever made. The Tim Burton movie, with all the liberties it took, at least kept in place the theme of the city dweller running afoul of rural custom. At least the character of Ichabod Crane was a little silly, even if he was better looking than the man in the story and a crime fighter.

Aside from names, I don't think there are more than three aspects of the original story preserved. Ichabod Crane is still male. Sleepy Hollow is still a place where people live. Katrina is still a woman. Beyond these most superficial of details, there's little here that would connect the show with Washington Irving's story.

But is it fun? Well, not for me. It's pretty milquetoast with a lot of lazy writing.

Nicole Beharie is charming as modern day police lieutenant Abbie Mills who meets Ichabod after he wakes up from an over two hundred year enchanted slumber in a cave. There are a couple cute pieces of humour about his interactions with the modern world though nothing as clever as "Rip Van Winkle".

Abbie's partner is killed by the Headless Horseman, who in this version is not the ghost of a Hessian or Brom Bones in disguise but rather one of the four horsemen of the Apocalypse, who was somehow under the employ of Britain during the Revolutionary War. Abbie calls in that there's an officer down and across town an officer played by John Cho receives the call and is on his way to assist but stops to arrest and take back to the station the recently awakened Ichabod Crane apparently for jaywalking.

This is the show's extremely, bafflingly lazy way of getting Ichabod and Abbie together.

It's pretty obvious what kind of demographic the show's aiming for. The cute Abbie has buried her heart since witnessing something supernatural in her youth that no-one believed really happened to her, and the handsome, brilliant, strong, aristocratic and somehow vulnerable Ichabod personifies evidence that there really is magic in the world.

There're a lot of standard supernatural cop show moments, particularly the end where Abbie's superior all but says, "Okay, until all this is sorted out, you two are stuck with each other--I'm making you partners!"

What fascinates me is how the changes made to Ichabod's character reflect what audiences need in their fantasies nowadays. In the original story, Ichabod is an impoverished, American, itinerant school teacher who's forced to lodge with the parents of his students, doing odd jobs in return. He's physically peculiar looking, though his education lends him some attractiveness to the women of the remote village. He's really smitten by Katrina Van Tassel, but a lot of his pursuit of her is motivated by her father's wealth and he hopes to be delivered from his tramp-like lifestyle. His primary rival is Brom Bones, and Ichabod is no match for him physically, not being an athletic specimen by any means.

Ichabod Crane in the new show is not only a war hero, General Washington personally enlists him to battle the mysterious horsemen who Ichabod eventually beheads personally after shooting him in the chest from range, knocking him off his horse. He's still a teacher, but no pathetic wandering schoolmaster he--no, he was a professor of history at Oxford. Instead of a man of shaky moral convictions, this Ichabod is an Englishman who defected to the side of the American colonists, compelled by his conscience. And he's pretty conventionally handsome.

One of the io9 reviews says the show's "leads are well-acted and already being fleshed out beyond the tropes they’re starting from." I would say the exact opposite is taking place--fleshed out characters have quite obviously been dumped for modern supernatural romance tropes. You know, I don't think anyone at io9 has ever read "The Legend of Sleepy Hollow".

Sonnet of the Daleks by setsuled

Twitter Sonnet of the Daleks

Silver cylinders wag plungers at Earth.
Offended voices raise as they all point.
Tinsel fingers from an egg beater berth.
Eye stalks swivel slowly in socket joint.
Frozen blue springs keep a snug cornea.
Lidless lenses restlessly demand death.
Green yolks are perpetual hernia.
Panicked cursors count more days than Macbeth.
Pulsing, gentle garbage disposal womb.
Outrage ignites here before all crime.
Immortal metal sheathes a lousy tomb.
Shining slimy suns are born all the time.
Rice pudding placates no kettle of hate.
White hot space machines have no time for fate.
Tags: dalek, doctor who, len wiseman, literature, sleepy hollow, television, the legend of sleepy hollow, washington irving

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