Last Monday night was the season two premiere of Sleepy Hollow. Considering where the show left off at the end of Season one, Ichabod Crane was trapped in a coffin, put there by his son, revealed as the Horseman of War and his wife Katrina retrieved from Purgatory, was kidnapped by the Headless Horseman (True love don’t ya know). Meanwhile Abbie Mills was stranded in Purgatory. All in all, a lot of dangling plots. So I was really annoyed that the first ten minutes of the show picked up as if a year had gone by. Sometimes these shows are too clever by half.
And although I’ve enjoyed the show it’s annoyed me almost as much. It’s sort of a supernatural Castle, which isn’t a bad thing. However regardless of whether it’s good or not I’m stuck with it since this is one of those shows that my wife and I watch together, so there is no easy way to bail out of watching. So since I’m in for the long haul, let me get a few things off my chest:
First, I don’t like how densely packed the mythology is. There is a lot of worldview that you are given to swallow, and I’m not sure it all makes sense when you are combining an old American fairy tale with Biblical themes. The Headless Horseman is one of the four Horsemen of the Apocalypse and Ichabod and Abbie are the two witnesses mentioned in the Book of Revelations. They could have eased us into all this.
Secondly, yes, Ichabod Crane is brilliant and educated, but come on, he’s adapted to the 21st Century a little too well. They could have gotten a lot more play out of his fumbling with light switches and car door handles, He’s confused about filling up the memory on his cell phone with video, but not with the concept of the phone itself? But as well as he fits into the 21st Century, he’s still wearing the same 18th Century wardrobe. Some Dockers and a polo might be a nice change of pace.
The elephant in the room, which is almost never mentioned, is race. The show as much as sleeps through race as Ichabod Crane slept through the centuries. On TV, when you have such a diverse cast racial issues are either the star of the show or are totally ignored. How many shows have had the one black friend, who hangs around with a bunch of white guys but has no black friends? That’s not a really an example of the real world. Of course, the world of Sleepy Hollow isn’t of course the real world, but the Headless Horseman seems more realistic than the casual way the show ignores race.
And it’s surprising too considering the diverse cast. It’s probably one of the most diverse casts of a show when it didn’t need to be. The show is set in upstate New York, and if the cast had wound up all white, no one would have batted an eye. But the producers specifically went for a rainbow of colors in casting. Why waste it?
When Ichabod and Abbie first meet, he asks her if she’s been emancipated. Naturally she’s a bit incensed at this but humors him about being from the 18th Century and explains that slaves were freed. Crane of course quickly explains that he’s always been an abolitionist with all of the quick earnestness of a white liberal meeting a black person and saying that they so respect Martin Luther King and think soul food is the best food ever.
And that’s it. They’re partners and work together as equals in 21st Century fashion and race never comes up again. The thing is, race would come up every day for Crane. Skipping over the past two centuries leaves quite a gap in the racial history of the United States. Crane should be constantly full of questions about racial manners and mores.
Well, it’s a wasted opportunity not to explore race, particularly when the set up of the show gives you the perfect opportunity. Oh well, back to chasing monsters.