So, What Did Critics Think of Sleepy Hollow?

Running down thoughts on the Fox premiere

“There’s an unsolved murder in Dobbs Ferry.”

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If you giggled when you heard that line, you must’ve been watching the premiere of the much-hyped Sleepy Hollow on Fox. (Don’t worry: I chuckled, too.) The show sees Revolutionary War hero Ichabod Crane magically transported to modern-day Westchester, where he has to team up with a local sheriff to track down the Headless Horseman—who might be one of the Four Horsemen of the Apocalpyse. (It sounds less crazy in context—maybe.)

So, did the premiere episode do justice to our fair village?

If you’re looking for local scenes, you’ll be disappointed. As Aaron Baiers, manager of Television Development for Sleepy Hollow‘s production company, told me, most of the filming was actually done in Charlotte, North Carolina (borrowing the crew of Homeland). But he also noted that they did shoot some aerial photography of the area from a helicopter. In the pilot, you can see overhead shots of Philipsburg Manor, Sleepy Hollow Cemetery, and the Tappan Zee. If you live close to the water, you might even be able to see your house.

Okay, so the show is not a document accurately detailing life in Westchester. (There are witches and headless horsemen running around, after all.) But how does it work as sheer entertainment value? Pretty good, it seems. The show received a score of 67/100 on Metacritic, a site that aggregates critic reviews—that translates into “generally favorable reviews.” On Rotten Tomatoes, which just started aggregating TV reviews in addition to movies, it did even better, with a 77/100 rating, making it “certified fresh.” Some critics were thrilled by the genre mash-up, but others were puzzled—read a bunch of these reviews in a row, though, and you’ll see the word “bonkers” appearing multiple times.

Here’s what some of the critics had to say:

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Sleepy Hollow works because it approaches everything with a relatively straight face, yet never seems to be taking itself too seriously.” —David Sims, The A.V. Club

“It’s a time-travel story, a conspiracy thriller, a buddy-cop tale, a platonic-but-with-sexual-tension love story, and sometimes a satire on modern attitudes, and it juggles these modes with sure hands. The show may revolve around a headless horseman, as per Washington Irving’s loosely adapted source, but this is no brainless time-waster. It’s witty but never overly pleased with itself, and even when it’s predictable, it’s predictable with a wink that says, ‘Come on — you know you needed that to happen.'”—Matt Zoller Seitz, Vulture

“I honestly can’t tell you if FOX’s ‘Sleepy Hollow,’ the first new show of the 2013-14 network TV season, is good or bad — and I’ve already watched the pilot episode (which airs Monday at 9 p.m.) twice. I suspect it’s bad, and that it will be proven to be bad over the course of its first season. But if it’s bad, it’s in a memorable, weird, fun way. It’s a show that goes for broke, does not apologize for its excesses and is never, ever boring.” — Alan Sepinwall, HitFix (I also appreciated this gem from Sepinwall: “‘Sleepy Hollow’ is loosely based on Washington Irving’s ‘The Legend of Sleepy Hollow’ in the same way that spaceflight is loosely based on birdflight.”)

“Sleepy Hollow got my attention, but I’m not yet sure if it’s good, ridiculous, good but ridiculous, or good because it’s ridiculous. It could turn out, underneath all its DaVinci Code plot overstuffing, to be hollow.” — James Poniewozik, Time

Did you watch? What did you think? Ridiculously fun, or just ridiculous? Let me know in the comments.

Kent Smith/FOX

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