Before I begin writing about the Sleepy Hollow panel I attended at this year’s New York Comic Con, I’d like everyone to know Orlando Jones is great with his fans. I didn’t stay after the panel but as I was walking out I heard a loud collective squeal and glanced back to see that Orlando had come around the panelist table to greet his fans. The scene reminded me of the Daily Dot post: “10 Reasons to Love Sleepy Hollow Even If You Don’t Watch the Show.”
That post and John Cho were integral in transforming me into a “Sleepyhead.” I make an effort to support shows that cast Asian American actors in nontraditional Hollywood roles. In Sleepy Hollow, John plays the evil but conflicted, Deputy Andy Brooks. He speaks unbroken English, isn’t comic relief, and as far as I know doesn’t know kung fu. It’s interesting to ponder that, in a story partially set during the American Revolution, when the culture was predominantly Anglo-Saxon (regardless of whether you were a colonist or a Red Coat), Ichabod Crane, the story’s main Anglo character is a “minority” and “temporal immigrant” in modern Sleepy Hollow. He is the backwards newcomer who struggles to assimilate.
In fact, one of the ongoing comedic elements of the show is Ichabod’s reaction to modern trends like skinny jeans and lattes. Executive Producer Phillip Iscove revealed during the panel that in Season Two, Ichabod will encounter a Karaoke machine, though we were never told whether or not he would be singing. Lyndie Greenwood, who plays Jennifer Mills (sister to Abbie Mills, the show’s female lead), revealed that Nichole Beharie, who plays Abbie Mils, is an excellent singer. Executive Producer Len Wiseman, mishearing what Jennifer had said, texted Tom Mison (Ichabod Crane) to ask about his singing. Tom quickly texted back that there are many things we do not know about him. He read the Tom’s reply out loud and the audience giggled.
Neither Tom Mison nor Nichole Beharie participated in the panel this year. However, Executive Producers and Co-creators, Len Wiseman and Philip Iscove, Orlando Jones (Captain Irving), Lyndie Greenwood (Jenny Mills), and Sakina Jaffrey (Captain Reyes) did not disappoint.
In Sleepy Hollow, the American Revolution is more than just a fight for independence. It is also fight against the demon, Moloch, who wishes to bring on the Apocalypse. The Headless Horseman of the classic Washington Irving story has been given a new role as Death, one of the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse. Ichabod Crane, also from the Irving story, is now an agent of General Washington’s secret army of demon slayers. He is killed by the Horseman but thanks to a spell cast by his wife, Katrina, who is a witch, he doesn’t really die. Instead he is put into a sort of “stasis” like Rip Van Winkle (except he doesn’t age) and awakens when the Horseman awakens in the 21st Century. Ichabod serves as Lieutenant Abbie Mills’ primary source for tactical information as she fights a modern day battle to stop Moloch.
In the first season of the show Ichabod and Abbie divided their time between sabotaging Moloch’s evil machinations, combatting the Headless Horseman, and attempting to free Ichabod’s wife, Katrina, from Limbo. It concluded with Abbie taking Katrina’s place in Limbo, Ichabod buried alive by his son with Katrina, Henry (who is in appearance much older looking than Ichabod and Katrina, who has been recruited by Moloch as one of the Four Horsemen, War, and who is played by the amazing John Noble — you know, Dr. Walter Bishop), and Captain Irving under arrest, accused of murdering several of his officers.
The second season began with Captain Irving relocated to a psychiatric asylum. The same asylum where Abbie and Jenny’s mother was held. It is at the asylum Captain Irving is tricked into signing his soul away by Henry. He has an ugly vision afterwards. He is fighting on Moloch’s side and might even be one of the Horsemen. Talking about it at the panel, Orlando seemed forlorn as he spoke about his character fighting for the other side.
The scenes in the asylum also provoked a really poignant comment from a Sleepyhead during the Q&A that followed the panel’s presentation. She kept reminding us that she was a fan before going ahead questioning whether the show would take a more serious look at mental illness. So far, she criticized, the show has only portrayed a mentally ill man as comic relief and others in the asylum as colorful wallpaper. She hoped the show would take a harder look at mental illness and not diminish its seriousness by simply using it as the road to a punchline. She received a positive response from the room and a sheepish one from the Executive Producers.
The second season has also introduced Nick Hawley, a hired hand who collects “sacred” objects at the request of anonymous buyers. He seems to know more about the power of the objects than Ichabod. I am eager to see where he fits into the story but at the same time concerned that his appearance will dilute the core story and hinder the development of the existing characters. Nick’s role is very Warehouse 13, Friday The 13th: The Series, and Jackie Chan Adventures. .
According to Wikipedia, “The Legend of Sleepy Hollow” was published by Washington Irving in 1820. In 1949, it received the Disney treatment complete with a song from Bing Crosby. In 1999, it received the Tim Burton treatment complete with the eclectic Johnny Depp playing Ichabod Crane. I am glad Wiseman and Iscove got together in 2013 to continue the legacy of Irving’s story.
Here’s Glenn Close reading Washington Irving’s original story as a part of a special PBS project in 1988: