RogerBW's Blog

Sleepy Hollow season 3 29 August 2016

2015-2016: Ichabod Crane, survivor from the American Revolutionary War, and Abbie Mills, FBI agent, continue to fight supernatural beasties in the present day. (Spoilers for all seasons.)

Mark Goffman, who'd been the showrunner for the first two seasons, left or was fired after season 2's ratings slumped. He was replaced by Clifton Campbell, who'd run The Glades (which I quite enjoyed when it wasn't randomly inventing more woes for its characters in order to spin things out further). Perhaps more significantly, after the first two episodes of this season the production moved from North Carolina to a suburb of Atlanta, which can't help but change a show's flavour even if the principal cast stay the same.

Tom Mison continues to do a decent job as Ichabod Crane, but the subtlety he showed in earlier seasons is largely gone now. His core story, that of rescuing his wife from Hell and then discovering she's not such a wonderful person after all, is over; now he's just another fighter against supernatural nasties. The show tries to whip up a bit of drama by suggesting a past romance with Betsy Ross, American Revolutionary covert operative (who historically may have made the first American flag, but there's no contemporary evidence and it probably didn't happen), but it never quite manages to convince.

Nicole Beharie as Abbie Mills is really building up some solid acting chops, being able to carry a scene effectively on her own or with a crowd, but the character has less and less to do apart from "desperate struggle against adversity". There's some attempt to drum up tension by making her FBI-agent boss curious about how she gets her information, but it never really comes to anything. Beharie was fired from the show for no public reason, Mills orvat xvyyrq bss ng gur raq bs gur frnfba nf cneg bs gur Terng Srznyr Cebgntbavfg Fynhtugre bs rneyl 2016. And this means that, as well as Crane's story being told, the interaction between these two leads that made up the core of the show and carried it over some frankly dodgy premises won't be coming back.

Basically, the production is naff. The scripts are mostly written by the same people, but most of the directors are new, and the show's turned into a much more conventional "she's a cop, he's not a cop, the others kind of hang around in the background and aren't cops either, they all fight supernatural crime" story. There's decent acting but the cast have nothing to act with; the show has outrun its (pretty minimal) original mythology, and the sound of frantic spackling is constantly audible. The season's first Big Bad is "Pandora" (yes, she has a box, how did you guess?), who is trying to reanimate the Hidden One, an ancient Sumerian god. Episode plots are things like "Ichabod and Abbie investigate a case involving the Jersey Devil, and learn that the person responsible was a man named Dr. Japeth Leeds, who had turned himself into the devil using alchemy."

The principals still have very little in the way of their own supernatural power, but rather than having to come up with cunning ways of dealing with foes that are too tough for them to confront directly, they tend to scrabble about in old books, find a reference to a mystical whatsit from the Revolutionary War, go and uncover it, use it against the monster, then never think of it again.

There are some good moments in the early episodes, particularly the demon made more powerful by specific negative emotions ("anger and gunpowder, fear and secrets"), but we also get Jack the Ripper, a banshee, and the River Styx; it's all too much and too haphazardly thrown together, like the middle series of Lost Girl (during the transition from basically-Celtic to basically-Greek myth) without the eye-candy.

The series was renewed for a fourth season but, especially without Beharie, I don't expect to watch any more.

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