Sep 17 2013 3:00pm

Drowsy, Dreamy, Sleepy Hollow

I hate to break it to you, but Sleepy Hollow is not a good show. It’s a hilariously ridiculous show that is also more entertaining than it has any right to be. But it’s so, so, so very not good. There’s just no way it could be. It’s so completely out there, Bryan Fuller couldn’t even make the concept work. If they shed some of the more crazytown bananapants aspects, or, hell, just fully committed to them, they might have something. But they won’t, making Sleepy Hollow dead man walking. This show won’t see the end of its seven year tribulation, no matter how strongly it hints at it.

Every kid who grew up in America knows the Legend of Sleepy Hollow (probably from the Disney version, but whatever). Written by Washington Irving in 1820, the short story tells of Ichabod Crane, a stuffy schoolmaster vying for the heart of the lovely Katrina against Gaston-wannabe Brom Bones. After a harvest party at Katrina’s, Ichabod is chased by a headless horseman into a covered bridge. Ichabod is never seen again, and Brom Bones spends the rest of his life trying not to look suspicious whenever anyone mentions Ichabod’s inexplicable disappearance. Well, you might as well forget that story because Sleepy Hollow is about as close to Irving as a fudgsicle is to cake.

Evil trees? Evil trees. EVIL TREES!Tom Mison (dreamy Mr. Bingley from Lost in Austen) is Ichabod Crane, Cambridge professor-cum-redcoat-cum-American Revolutionary spy-cum-bewitched Rip Van Winkle-cum-dude with a really bad haircut. George Washington sends him on a mission to save the world by battling a faceless mercenary with a bow and arrow brand on his hand that is apparently so visible and obvious that anyone can see it from 50 paces, day or night. Ichabod beheads him and gets himself mortally wounded in the process. Witchy wife Katrina decides it’s better to put her husband in a permanent coma than to kill HH—they share some asininely explained blood bond...basically, whither goest Ichabod, so will HH, and vice versa. Abracadabra Rip Van Winkle and suddenly Ichabod wakes up in 2013 when someone starts pulling HH’s strings.

Deputy Sheriff Lt. Mills (Nicole Beharie) is the unfortunate witness to her boss’ execution—the second by HH after he wakes from his underwater nap—and because of some traumatising childhood incident with some trees, she believes Ichabod’s ludicrous story in spite her reservations. Turns out her late boss also had a notion of some seriously sinister stuff going down in Sleepy Hollow. Mills and Crane team up, and it looks like the show plans to use the Monster of the Week format to kill time between the bigger mythological set pieces. If that’s not enough to wet your whistle, there’s also the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse, George Washington fighting to prevent the End of Times, dueling witch covens, a creepy reverend, and a demon with a tree fetish. I gave up trying to make sense of it all pretty early on. All that was left was for someone to start screaming about Nazi clocks.

After the first 10 minutes, I felt like I had missed 30 minutes of exposition. Things just keep happening with no logical connections and everyone seemed totally OK with it. The Headless Horseman kills a cop and two seconds after Mills calls it in, John Cho nearly runs over Ichabod ALL THE WAY ACROSS TOWN and decides he absolutely has to be the killer. I...what? Then, all of a sudden, there’s a solid five minutes of Ichabod spilling his entire personal life story, and about five minutes after that he does it again. Then Mills explains her background in vivid flashback detail. AND THEN a dead cop spends another five minutes telling his life story. So much infodumping.

You and me both, sister.This single episode has a good four separate mythologies and storylines crammed together and forcibly intertwined, logic be damned. 40 minutes of hocus pocus jibber jabber that look great on screen but don’t stand up to anything beyond shrugging acceptance. There’s laying the foundation for season-long and series-long mythology, and then there’s whatever insanity is going on in the Sleepy Hollow writers’ room. On the other hand, the show’s creators are Alex Kurtzman and Roberto Orci, the guys behind, among other things, Fringe, Hawaii Five-O, and Cowboys and Aliens. *sigh*

What saves the show are the characters. No, scratch that. The actors. Nicole Beharie blew my socks off. Where has she been all these years (besides being jaw droppingly stellar in Shame)? Why isn’t she cast in every thing? She takes an overused stock character—The Scully—and imbues her with humor, personal strength, and depth. None of that comes from the script, mind. It’s all Beharie. Mills is a trope that practically defines “cliche,” but Beharie gives her the spark of life, just as Mison does for Ichabod.

Tom Mison plays Ichabod just perfectly. Anyone else might make have him a sniveling prude or an arrogant douchecanoe, but Mison plays him with peevish charm. Every line drips with bone dry sarcasm and a hefty dose of put-uponness that manages to somehow not be obnoxious. I can picture these characters outside the show, hanging out at a Starbucks, just chatting. The chemistry is palpable but platonic. If the show lasts long enough for the writers to chance turning their friendship into romance, I hope to Hera they don’t. They’re great friends already. I’d hate to see that ruined for some February Sweeps sex.

I can’t tell if this show is going to be really bad or really good. It’s not sustainable as is, but pilot episodes rarely hit it out of the park. As it stands, it’s too campy to be the next Supernatural but not campy enough to be the next The Cape. Then again, Grimm is somehow still on the air despite being incredibly eye rolling and with the most boring leads on television, so you never know. I’ll definitely keep watching, at least until it collapses under the weight of its own absurdities. But the real question here is should you watch Sleepy Hollow? The Headless Horsemen has a shoot out with a machine gun. If that isn’t reason enough, then I don’t know what is.

Final Thoughts

  • “Excellent. This day continues to bear gifts.” Ichabod may be a time traveler, but he’s also the sass master.
  • “First I shot him, then he rose back up. Cutting off his head seemed the next logical step.”
  • Clancy Brown! Oh. Em. Gee.
  • What the heck is with the sparks? Is that supposed to indicate magic or did the production designer have some Fourth of July leftovers taking up garage space? Knock it off Sleepy Hollow. It’s really stupid looking.
  • If Katrina was burned for witchcraft, why was she (supposedly) buried in a church cemetery? And why is her headstone in mint condition after 250 years?
  • When Ichabod made the connection between the Headless Horseman and the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse, I exclaimed the exact same thing as Mills: “Come on!”

Alex Brown is an archivist, research librarian, writer, geeknerdloserweirdo, and all-around pop culture obsessive who watches entirely too much TV. Keep up with her every move on Twitter, or get lost in the rabbit warren of ships and fandoms on her Tumblr.

1. TonyGarza
I watched it last night because I was hoping for somthing to replace Fringe and Xfiles on Fox.... I think it could have worked as a 2hour movie on Halloween .... as a series I think that Fox just killed off another show.
Ian Tregillis
2. ITregillis
Say what you will, but the Nazi Clock show had one thing going for it: clocks.
David Gunter
3. spdavid
I thought that as long as you accept it as absurd then it's watchable.That's the whole point of a show like this,to be totally nuts,and I'm betting it will do that well enough to stay with it.I will say if something more substancial airs in that same time slot I'm gone though.
Walker White
4. Walker
The thing that really hit me was the number of well known actors (both Clancy Brown and Jason Cho) that were killed in the freaking pilot. You generally do not see that. Though it may be more of "this is all we could afford" than "this show means business".

The biggest problem I have with the show is the communication. They hang the lampshade on the communication struggles between a modern cop and 1776 citizen. But then he still understands way too damn much of what she says.
Danny Kidd
6. just_jeepin
I really liked it but it did feel like it was rushed. About three episodes worth of action crammed into one.

Of course I LOVE Haven even though everyone seems to hate it.
Joe Vondracek
7. joev
If I understand it correctly, if you find this show absurd then you don't deserve the gift that The Orci has bestowed upon you. Or something. It's hard to tell what goes on in whatever passes for a mind in that guy.

+1 for the use of "douchecanoe" in this review. I first saw that used here on tor.com in Leigh Butler's A Read of Ice and Fire a couple weeks back.
Alex Brown
8. AlexBrown
@TonyGarza, Walker, just_jeepin: Yep, totally agree. I was soooo sad about Clancy Brown. And they really need to take a step back from the storylines. There's enough excitement in HH breaking into a cop's arsenal and packing a sawed off shotgun. We don't need to drag Revelations into it this early in the game. Pacing, people, pacing.

@Ian: The clocks aren't real! Ask Carlos, he'll explain it.

@spdavid: I just don't think pilot commits fully to being totally nuts. If it goes down that path, I'll be right there with them. I kinda hope it does. That's my biggest problem with Grimm and Once Upon a Time. Both shows take themselves far too seriously (or, at least they did when I gave up watching them) for me to just accept the absuridities.

@joev: I have a lot of issues with Orci and Kurtzman, for a variety of issues. But their track record always seems to be a great kernel of an idea completely ruined by overwroght mythology. They piled mythology onto Hawaii Five-O, for pete's sake.

And douchecanoe is a great word. I'm a huge fan. Thank you Bloggess.
Christopher Bennett
9. ChristopherLBennett
Actually the show was conceived by Phillip Iscove, who pitched it to Kurtzman & Orci, who then brought in Len Wiseman. All four of them are billed as creators. And Mark Goffman is the showrunner. I think K&O, like J.J. Abrams before them, have reached the level of producership where they're more facilitators/supervisors for other producers' shows than actual showrunners themselves.

And yes, the show is completely absurd, but it's also completely in on its own joke. As proven by the shot of the "No horse riding" sign with the icon's head sliced off by the Horseman's axe. It's making no apologies for being ridiculous, and that's what's fun about it. Although I agree that it's mainly the charisma of Mison and Beharie (and Clancy Brown, who hopefully will be back in voiceovers and flashbacks) that gives the show its charm.
John C. Bunnell
10. JohnCBunnell
The pilot may be over-the-top, but a comment I saw this morning may apply: it bears a striking tonal and conceptual resemblance to the very beginning of Buffy the Vampire Slayer...and look how successful that was. Nothing else since BtVS has quite captured the combo of occult and snark that that franchise did, and this looks as if it might just relight that original spark.
11. RobinM
This is going to have crazy weird mythology and then go off the rails. I like the actors in this a lot. I'm not sure I'll watch this week to week it depends whats on the other channels. Did anyone else want Clancy Brown to make a crack about the HH still going with out his head. I knew Brown was loosing his head as soon as I saw him.
Jenny Thrash
12. Sihaya
"The Headless Horseman kills a cop and two seconds after Mills calls it in, John Cho nearly runs over Ichabod ALL THE WAY ACROSS TOWN and decides he absolutely has to be the killer." Yeah, that made no sense to me at first, but then spoilers. As to the overall effect of the show, I think the producers and actors know exactly how campy it is, and revel in the fact. Come on, Robin! The Horseman is plotting against Gotham('s suburb)! Holy holywater, Batman! How will we solve this case?
Alex Brown
13. AlexBrown
@ChristopherLBennett, Sihaya: Good point about Kurtzman and Orci. I think I have an automatic cringe reflex whenever their names pop up.

@JohnCBunnell, RobinM: Yep, that's why I wrote that the pilot itself isn't sustainable and that they'll probably drop into a MoW format as time goes on. A pilot is a good indicator of where the show is headed and what it's tone will be, but it also gives the creators a chance to restructure. I strongly suspect the rest of the episodes will get more comfortable with tone and settle down a bit into a nice, comfortable groove of silliness and seriousness. Kinda like the early seasons of Angel. Or so I hope.

And as much as I hate to admit it, I actually really dug the first 2 seasons of Buffy, as terrible as they were.
14. Taran200
If Katrina was burned for witchcraft, why was she (supposedly) buried in a church cemetery?

Not to mention she wouldn't have been burned for witchcraft, but pressed or hanged (the only witch-burning in lands under English law was one for petty treason, because the accused witch supposedly killed her husband).
Christopher Bennett
15. ChristopherLBennett
@14: I had to look up "petty treason." How obnoxious that a wife killing her husband was defined as the same type of crime as a servant killing one's master.

Anyway, I doubt that historical accuracy or, indeed, any form of realism is a priority for this show.
Alex Brown
16. AlexBrown
@Taran200: Yeah, I thought that was odd, too. I think in Salem everyone was hanged except one dude who was pressed. I think those who were convicted of practicing witchcraft were still buried in a Christian cemetery, but those convicting of being a witch were dumped in ditches outside the cemetary.
Drake Stephens
17. MynameisDrake
Anyone else think IchCrane has a super cool coat?

My brother and I watched it. For the first twenty minutes we made fun of how ridiculous the premise was. For the next twenty minutes, we made random madcap theories about the characters and the story. In the last twenty minutes, almost all of those theories turned out to be true, proving the show was so ridiculous that it's kind of amazing.

Long story short, I'll be watching every episode until it's cancelled in two months (even if it were to become the best new show of the season, not enough people will watch it. Anyone remember Ben and Kate?).

Oh, and regarding the gravestone thing, maybe the priest witch dude put it there to remember where he buried the head?
Christopher Bennett
18. ChristopherLBennett
@17: Good point about the priest. He seemed to be immortal (or at least very long-lived), since he was in Ichabod's flashbacks. So he'd probably been keeping watch over the skull the whole time.
Lee Anderson
19. DSNiner
And as much as I hate to admit it, I actually really dug the first 2 seasons of Buffy, as terrible as they were.

Uh, Alex, I hate to be the one to break it to you, but the second season of Buffy is the greatest season of Buffy. Yes, really. What is this 'terrible' of which you speak?
John C. Bunnell
20. JohnCBunnell
#17: The early ratings suggest it will last longer than two months; if I'm recalling the news item correctly, Deadline.com reported that Sleepy Hollow did extremely well ratings-wise, and is in fact Fox's best-performing series premiere in the last seven years.
21. Rider Upon A Pale Horse
Small quibble:

Katrina wasn't actually buried in a Christian cemetary. She just had a headstone there and was buried somewhere else if at all.
Kit Case
22. wiredog
After the first 10 minutes, I felt like I had missed 30 minutes of exposition.

Sounds like "Prometheus". Wil there be facehuggers?
Joseph Cook
23. Jobi-Wan
I really like the pilot and will be watching it until Fox decides to air the episodes out of order and cancel it. It was ridiculous and absurd but I think that aspect worked for the show. I agree the actors were great and I was also asking myself why had I never seen Nicole Beharie before or knew who she was.

I'm also starting a headcount chop tracker, off to a good start with 4 in the first episode.

Out of the three new shows I have tried out so far, Dads and Brooklyn 99 being the other two, Sleepy Hollow is my favorite so far.
24. RodneyJ
Come on guys, remember the pilot of Star Trek TNG? 'Nuf said. My favorite was the horseman standing in the street flailing an automatic weapon and taking out a police car. My only quibble with casting is Orlando Jones as the police captain. I keep seeing all those characters from Mad TV wandering through the landscape. And poor Clancy Brown. He seems to die a miserable death in everything he appears in. Though a tip of the hat to Highlander, Clancy looses his head yet again. There can be only one...
Christopher Bennett
25. ChristopherLBennett
@23: "I really like the pilot and will be watching it until Fox decides to air the episodes out of order and cancel it."

Can we please kill this meme? Firefly was a decade ago. The FOX executives who made that decision no longer work at the company. Expecting the current FOX executives to behave the same way is like expecting President Obama to have the same policies as President Bush just because they both work in the same office.

If you look at the past few years, FOX's record with genre shows has been better than that of most other broadcast networks. For instance, here's 2012-2013's cancelled shows. The list includes only two FOX genre shows: Fringe, which ended after five seasons (an impressively long run for any network TV show), and Touch,whose two seasons were both allowed to air in full. By contrast, ABC cancelled 666 Park Avenue, Zero Hour, and Last Resort after only a few episodes each, and The CW did the same with Cult. NBC pulled Do No Harm after two episodes. And the only reason CBS didn't cancel any genre shows is because they rarely make any to begin with; Person of Interest is the only one they've had in years.

As far as I can tell, the last time FOX cancelled a genre show without airing all its episodes was with Tru Calling back in 2005. They haven't "pulled a Firefly" in eight years. But the other networks are routinely yanking shows before they even get a chance.

So it's high time we moved on and recognized that Firefly was a long time ago. Look at the recent past and it becomes preposterous to say that FOX is harder on genre shows than the other networks. Not only are the other networks far quicker on the cancellation button than FOX has been in recent years, but a lot of the genre shows the other networks are making aren't very good anyway.
Joseph Cook
26. Jobi-Wan
@25 It was a joke but thanks for the 4 paragraph explanation as to why I should not be making it. Your explanation did make me laugh more than the pilot of Dads though, so there is that at least.
Kit Case
27. wiredog
"Expecting the current FOX executives to behave the same way is like expecting President Obama to have the same policies as President Bush just because they both work in the same office."

I guess you haven't been reading up on the NSA, Syria, et alia...

28. Torey
I fell in love with the show'ssense of humor. My favorite in this episode was the "horse and rider" road sign/crossing sign altered in the fight at the church into a "headless horsman" road sign/crossing sign.

Yes, there were some very conventient plot things, but between Crane's snark and Archer's no-bullshit attitude, they have some excellent dialog. I like the on-screen chemistry of the pilot's survivors, too. It bodes well for the rest of the series.

While Crane's vocabulary tends to have 21st century colloquialisms, there are enough time-twisted conversations to bring home the fact that he's a fish out of water -- like the race/slave/abolitionist conversation in the jail. I don't mind the modern colloquialism, it makes it easier for the view to understand what Crane is saying. If he spoke true to his time.... we'd need subtitles to translate.
Shelly wb
29. shellywb
I watched the middle 20 minutes or so. I was blown away by Nicole Beharie but wished I was watching her in another show. She should try to get in over on Justified.
Joe Vondracek
30. joev
@ChristopherLBennett, Sihaya: Good point about Kurtzman and Orci. I think I have an automatic cringe reflex whenever their names pop up.
Maintain your skepticism. The writers for the first ep were Kurtzman, Orci and Iscove.

If the population is over 100,000, it's not really a village anymore. And what's with the combined police department + sheriff's department? Is that a NY thing?

How does a guy without a head have such great hand-eye coordination? Hey, HH, Jason called and he wants his hockey mask back. You can keep the demon horse with magically glowing eyes.

Sleepy Hollow definitely has the potential to surpass Terra Nova and The River on the Snark-o-meter(TM). So it's got that going for it, which is nice.
31. Adf
I liked it and hope FOX doesn't cancel it.
32. WDH
The second the HH threw the assault rifle over his shoulder and loaded the shotgun I sent out a "you gotta watch this" to all my buds.
33. Mare Byerly
I'm giving the show a few more episodes to prove itself.

Good things:

The lead actors' talent and Mison's charisma.

Headless' gorgeous Lipizzaner stallion who performs airs above the ground in various shots.

The filming is in my home state of North Carolina. Salisbury is Sleepy Hollow's stand in.

The attempt, though a poor one, of giving us another paranormal show.

The bad things:

The over-the-top mythology which states where the show will go in the next seven years, and it is all so predictable. It's a given that Headless will get his head back this season so the other monsters can be released.

Katrina gives Ichabod Headless' weakness. Sam and Dean from SUPERNATURAL would send him back to Hell in a few episodes by luring him in with the head then aiming natural spectrum light spotlights at him, and he'd fry. These people are proving to be very poor opponents with luck more than any action on their part to stop him.

Evil needs a human face and voice for the characters to fight against. Headless is just a thing. I imagine the evil witch coven will become the face of evil.

And I like GRIMM. Despite the lead actor's blandness, the character of Monroe more than makes up for it, and the show is clever. Nick is also a zombie now so that's a big plus since it suits his blandness.
34. QuantumSam
Thak you for the new word in my lexicon: douchecanoe

Douche Canoe:
1. Someone who exceedes the limits of being a normal douche or douche bag. "Luke, you are such a douche canoe"
2. Any vehicle filled to capacity with a group of major douchebags. Usually a luxury SUV. Most often owned or purchased by the parents of one of the douche mcgouches inside. The group of individuals who pour out of the douche canoe can be affectionately referred to as a "sh#tstorm of douchebags." If that douche canoe tries to swoop us in the Taco Bell line, I will go fisticuffs with that whole sh#itstorm of douchebags inside!
35. Ashbet
My family (me, boyfriend, 20-yr-old daughter) really enjoyed it -- we weren't expecting seriousness (the lead-in that caused us to check it out was "Supernatural with a more diverse cast"), and we laughed ourselves silly on several occasions during the episode.

It's REALLY nice seeing a show with a black female lead (and a black male authority figure, who definitely is more than meets the eye), and since Abbie and Ichabod have such amazing snarky friend-chemistry, I would LOVE to watch them battle HH and the Monster of the Week for quite some time to come, if they'll keep exchanging witty banter.

I was expecting something fairly light and fun, and I wasn't disappointed. Its silliness is part of its charm, IMO -- c'mon, this is ALSO a world where nobody has read the story it was based on, so I wrote some of the logical inconsistencies (Katrina's stone and manner of death, etc.) off to being an alternate-but-close universe clone.

But, yes -- I would LOVE to see this succeed and get to run its full planned arc, because from what I saw in the pilot, I want to see more!
36. tigershock
I really don't know how I feel about it. I didn't turn it off, but I feel dumber just having watched it. Kinda like smoking too much weed. Hey, also... the Sheriff is an elected official, and the Police Captain is an appointed official by the commissioner or mayor or whoever... so why is a deputy ass kissing a Police Captain, different departments entirely. Stupid.
John Massey
37. subwoofer
Well, let's be honest here, Sleepy Hollow is on Fox, so that sounds its death knell to begin with.

That being said, I like this show. I like the feel, the sets, the colors, and let's face it, Lt. Mills is screaming hot. There, I said it. I'll watch it until it gets cancelled anyways. There is much potential here, with Crane's wife, the Four Horsemen, the icy white guy, demons, Sulu, etc. It may become like Supernatural except with a guy/girl team.

I'm in.

Christopher Bennett
38. ChristopherLBennett
@37: Please read my comments in post #25. These days, a genre show has a significantly better chance of survival on FOX than it would have on ABC or NBC -- and it would probably never have been bought by CBS at all.
John Massey
39. subwoofer
Yeah, I read it before I posted, but unless you happen to be a producer for Fox, I maintain my stance. I have learned to not give Fox too much credit. They have a habbit of living down to my expectations.

Christopher Bennett
40. ChristopherLBennett
@39: Every TV network cancels shows -- it's been a fact of life for decades. And last year, ABC, NBC, and The CW cancelled most of their new SF/fantasy shows within 3-4 weeks. It was a massacre. Given that, I don't see how it's possible to single out FOX as being worse than the alternatives.

What I find particularly odd is when people call out Fringe as an example of a show FOX cancelled prematurely. That show ran for five seasons and was allowed to complete its story, which is an impressive run for any show. Relatively few series make it to five seasons. Prior to Star Trek: TNG, no American prime-time genre show ever had more than five seasons. And no original scripted drama in the history of the Sci-Fi Channel/Syfy has ever run for more than five seasons on that network (Stargate SG-1 had five seasons on Showtime and then five on Sci-Fi). So FOX allowed Fringe to have a very respectable run, staying committed to it as long as they could despite its ratings struggles. They also let Dollhouse run for two seasons despite ratings that would've led most networks to pull it midway through the first season.

I know people have a lot of lingering prejudices against FOX because of Firefly, but prejudices -- especially decade-old ones -- should be set aside in the face of facts. And the facts show overwhelmingly that, while of course no show on commercial television is guaranteed success, FOX these days is far, far slower on the cancellation button than most of its competitors. Which is probably because the people running the network are sick of the negative assumptions that fans make about them and have tried to be more responsive to their audience.
John Massey
41. subwoofer
.... You never said if you were a producer for Fox or not, so I am assuming that would be a "yes".

FYI there are several blogs and threads devoted to Fox cancelled shows.
So I'm not just making stuff up here. My grudge with Fox began long before in a galaxy far, far away. There was this show "Kindred, the Embraced", loved it, Fox cancelled it. In recent history we have "Terminator: the Sarah Connor Chronicles", loved it, loved Summer Glau, Fox cancelled it. Loved "the Tick", Fox cancelled it. Come to think, they also cancelled "Futurama" and the "Family Guy" before the collective table of execs had a colonoscopy and were found to have terminal cases of "headupassitis". After further probing and barium enemas, the results were confirmed.

And I didn't even mention Whedon's "Ode de Joy". So see, Fox are a bunch of poops. I'd be cheerfully happy to be wrong in this case, but I'm not holding my breath.

And just to be clear, I do hear what you are saying about other
networks. I have a long standing knee jerk, gag reflex with ABC for
cancelling "Twin Peaks" and "High Incident".

Edit some more: I forgot to mention "Roar", my first viewing of Heath Ledger, loved that show, Fox cancelled it. Yep. They suck.

Christopher Bennett
42. ChristopherLBennett
@41: Of course I don't work for FOX. As many people here know, I'm a freelance novelist. I just despise unfairness toward anyone. You don't have to belong to a group to want them to be judged fairly.

And "a producer for FOX" doesn't even mean anything. Producers work for production companies or television studios. FOX is a broadcaster. It's like the difference between a publisher and a bookstore, or between Mattel and Toys R Us.

And yes, of course FOX cancels shows, because every network cancels shows. No TV series is guaranteed survival. The competition is fierce, viewers are fickle, and it's a given on any network that the majority of new shows will be short-lived. So it's dishonest to treat FOX's record in a vacuum. It needs to be compared against other networks.

The reason FOX has cancelled so many SF/fantasy shows is simply because it's bought so many more SF/fantasy shows than any other network. Historically, it and UPN have the highest ratio of genre to non-genre shows of any of the broadcast networks (CBS is in last place). This is simple statistics. Most TV shows of any genre on any network get cancelled young. Therefore, all else being equal, the network that makes the most genre shows is going to cancel the most genre shows. If they really hated genre shows, they wouldn't make so many in the first place.

Besides -- TV is not a charity. It costs a ton of money to make a TV series, especially an FX-laden SF/fantasy series. The only way a network can afford to make a show is if advertisers are willing to pay for it, and the only way advertisers will pay for it is if it gets good ratings. So it's not like networks cancel shows on a whim. They cancel the shows whose ratings are so low that they can't afford to keep producing them. The network executives may love a show profoundly but be unable to keep making it because the ratings are just too low and they're losing huge amounts of money. Conversely, they may hate making some sleazy reality show, but it gets huge ratings and brings in tons of money, so they have no choice but to keep it on the air because it's what's paying for the rest of the network's lineup and for their children's college education.

Yes, sometimes networks make bad decisions that hurt a show's ability to find an audience, like giving it a bad time slot or airing its episodes out of order. Sometimes they're too quick to cancel a show rather than giving it a fair chance. And sometimes they interfere and retool a show in ways that hurt it and cause its audience to flee. The people who used to run FOX years ago were certainly guilty of all of those, and they made many decisions that I thought were dreadful. I particularly hated what they did with Sliders, the way they meddled and retooled it into a complete disaster. But those were the old guard. The decisions the current FOX regime has made in recent years have shown me that they're far more willing to give shows a chance. Of course they couldn't guarantee any show's success, because that's ultimately up to the audience, and if a show can't find an audience, the network won't be able to afford to keep making it no matter how much they may want to. But it does seem to me that they're giving shows much more of a fair chance than their predecessors did, and more than their contemporaries on other networks are doing lately.
John Massey
43. subwoofer
Hmmmm.... It seems to me you only read the coles notes of what I said. Agreed, all networks cancel shows. Good shows. If not for Supernatural I would smack around the CW for cancelling "Reaper".

I didn't know you were a freelancer, but that doesn't mean much in the general scheme of things. You sound like you are on Fox's payroll, maybe as an associate producer then. As for being unfair towards a corporation, I'm trying my best to keep a straight face about the whole thing. Granted, networks make bad decisions, Fox makes it an art form. I listed a whack of shows that proves the contrary of what you were saying in regards to looking at their recent track record. Terminator being very good and very recent.

I don't need a lecture on how networks make money either. I think I have that figured out, but I am still allowed to voice my opinion that Fox sucks. Does Fox take risks? That is an interesting question that I will have to ponder. I will sniff out their track record in regards to other networks.

The point is, Fox had some brilliant, albeit some lowbrow, shows and they cancelled them when a mass of people said - whiskey-tango-foxtrot?

That can't be denied.

John C. Bunnell
44. JohnCBunnell
At the risk of introducing actual data into the discussion, it seems highly improbable that Fox will cancel Sleepy Hollow anytime soon, so long as it displays the excellent ratings it's been getting for its opening outings.
Christopher Bennett
45. ChristopherLBennett
@44: Thank you. Introducing data is exactly what I've been trying to do. If this had been ten or fifteen years ago, I'd be denouncing the idiocy of the FOX executives at the time along with everyone else. But my opinion has changed because the data have changed. The evidence of recent years shows that the current FOX executives are far more generous to their shows. I'm still amazed that they let Dollhouse run as long as it did. Sure, 26 episodes isn't much, but the ratings were so poor that any other network, or the prior FOX regime, would've cancelled the show while it was still in single digits. Instead we got a complete, if abbreviated, series arc and a satisfying ending. They won my goodwill with that. (I do wish they'd handled The Sarah Connor Chronicles better -- they're certainly not perfect -- but the problems there were largely a consequence of the writers' strike.)

So if they were willing to be so patient with a show that got such weak ratings, I think you're right that Sleepy Hollow has nothing to worry about.
Steven Halter
46. stevenhalter
I watched the first episode over the weekend. It seems to have promise although it could go off a cliff in a number of directions. I've set it to record so I'm hopeful enough.
As to how lon and whether it is likely to go, it is pretty much a crap shoot these days. If a show seems decent and catches your attention, watch it.
Bridget McGovern
47. BMcGovern
subwoofer @43: Let's keep the conversation civil, since it seems to be taking on a rather personal and accusatory tone--if Christopher says he doesn't work for FOX, please leave it at that, unless you're prepared to prove otherwise. Thanks.
Rob Rater
48. Quasarmodo
"I told you to stay in the car."
"I'm insane, remember? I'm impervious to simple commands."
Alex Brown
49. AlexBrown
@Steven, Quasar: Yes, it is a fantastic show. And by fantastic I mean completely insane and ridiculous. And I love every awful second. It's the only new show this whole season I look forward to. It is totally going to go off the rails, but it will do it spectacularly.
John C. Bunnell
50. JohnCBunnell
And this just in via Deadline.com: Sleepy Hollow has been renewed for a second season. (This is not quite as extraordinary as it sounds three weeks in, as the first and second season orders are each for 13 episodes -- but it's still a solid commitment from Fox.)
Alex Brown
51. AlexBrown
@John: That 13 ep part is key, but as I said with the debate about Grimm and OuaT, I think it will keep it from veering too far into the time suck weeds. Should keep the crazy train steady on the tracks. I'm thrilled, basically. I need a little insanity in my television diet.
52. rfresa
5 Things I love about Sleepy Hollow:

1. Fish out of Temporal Water. One of my favorite tropes, and here's a whole show about it. We've seen a lot of this lately - Captain America and Dark Shadows come to mind - but it always makes me smile, and makes the viewers appreciate what we have. I can't wait to see Ichabod's reactions every week to some quirk of modern life. If the show does go for 7 years, I'm sure this will eventually have to diminish, or else it will get annoying, but so far I love it.

2. The Odd Couple. Cop buddies Mills and Crane have great chemistry and can really get the audience invested in their situation. I can see this developing in many interesting ways.

3. Supernatural stuff we haven't seen too much before. So far it seems pretty original and not too much like a rehash of X-files, Buffy, or Charmed. I would compare it more to Supernatural, but it definitely has a unique twist.

4. Good special effects. I don't know a lot about them technically, but if they carry the story along and don't feel fake or distract from the plot and characters I'm good.

5. Great pacing and mood. It didn't feel rushed to me, and it had the right mixture of humor and action. I don't go for straight horror, but intriguingly absurd horror I can do.
Jenny Thrash
53. Sihaya
My favorite "fish out of water bit" so far is last week's, where Ichabod actually seemed to not only be *in* the water, but was also dredging a new stream.
Anthony Pero
54. anthonypero
After five episodes, I have to say, if this show is Fool's Gold, its an awfully good imitation. I'm in for the duration.
55. Ebony
Well sleepy hollow is crap and supernatural is a better show and that's fact! And dean and Sam are way better than icahbod !! Abbie ok but still dean is way hotter and supernatural is a better show!!!

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