Thursday, December 12, 2013

My Addiction to Fox’s Sleepy Hollow–as a Writer

Jordan Dane
@JordanDane

sleepyhollow

I’ve been watching Sleepy Hollow and consider myself a Sleepyhead, one of many fans who follow the show. We tweet during episodes, quoting lines we love, and mostly talk about Tom Mison, the delectable British male lead who will undoubtedly inspire books in me from here on. But what I’ve found most interesting in the show, beyond the eye candy of Mison, is the daring mix of genres and biblical and literary references. It’s got the flavor of National Treasure (by turning history on its ear with an intriguing undercurrent of conspiracy theories or good vs evil battles) woven into the luxurious velvety fabric of fantasy, mystery, humor, romance, historical, paranormal, and horror.

fourhorsemen

On top of everything else—the cherry on the top--is damned good writing. We care about the characters and what happens to them. They have personal stories we can’t get enough of, along with the good vs evil battle against demons. There’s a great mix of suspense thriller pacing, blended with the mounting risks the characters take on with each new episode, and compelling backstories to pepper the emotional landscape. The writers leave us wanting more with each new show, while continuing an overall story arc on each character. Even secondary characters become important because of how they add to the plot. I get swept away with being a viewer, but often go back to really listen to each line because these writers do NOTHING without a purpose. It’s fun to see all the threads pull together as the season continues. You have to pay attention if you want to figure stuff out ahead of time, which I really love as a writer.
 
Other fun things to watch for is the historical research the show’s writers must do into the history of the period. Crane’s dialogue lines are incredible studies into the English language of the time period as compared to how we speak today. Abbie represents our present day while Crane is our past. They’ve even used Middle English in the retelling of the mysterious legend of Roanoke. With Crane remembering the past freshest in his mind, he is a reminder how precious our past is and how much can be forgotten over time.
 
Crane is also portrayed as a renaissance man with an enlightened perspective against slavery, which works well with Abbie being a black female law enforcement officer whose ancestors crossed paths with Crane’s family. Again, good writing. Characters and their backstories are well thought out and serve a function for all that springs from their conflict or purpose. This show also has many references to literature and books. In the last episode, Crane is quoted as saying, “Without books we have no past and no future.” I hope I remembered that correctly. It stuck with me. So many quotables from the show.
 
Crane with shower sponge
 
The “man out of time” bits are hilarious and far too few, but that makes every one precious. Crane is outspoken and has trouble admitting when he doesn’t understand our present time, making each misstep of his funny to watch. His first shower, his take on modern technology and conveniences, his disbelief we pay for water or pay 10% levy on baked goods (his introduction to donut holes), his time spent on the “ninernet” and finding a porn chat room,  and his first baseball game are hilarious. Crane’s take on us is entertaining, but it’s what he teaches Abbie about the past and the way he still lives (standing up to evil or injustice no matter the personal cost), endears him to us. This is another test of good writers – to incorporate such special moments into a suspenseful story line at the right time and place, or surprising the viewer when it comes at a very unexpected moment (like the picture above where he sees his first shower sponge and doesn’t ask why Abbie bought it for him). The writers and Mison make me want the whole show to be about Crane assimilating, but of course there must be more for us to get to know characters who are quickly becoming as familiar as family to the growing legion of Sleepyheads who crave the Sleepy Hollow world.
 
Mison in bootsI know the day is coming that Crane will be forced from his period clothing, but I have to say Tom Mison is dream worthy in his revolutionary breeches, boots, and gabardine jacket. He’s wearing a wig for the long sexy hair, but Mison looks amazing in short hair too. Google the many faces of Tom Mison and you’ll see. Here’s fun video on Mison and Beharie. And here’s another of just Mison and his short hair. The fandom on DeviantArt and twitter and countless other chat rooms and forums have quickly evolved. Fortunately people of all ages have embraced this show.
 

 
Another writer thing – the plot and character story arcs are really good. The ground swell to Ichabod’s and Abbie’s story is building in such a tantalizing way with cliff hanger and reveals that escalates the momentum. Ichabod and Abbie are the two witnesses in Revelations who are fighting the four horsemen of the Apocalypse, malevolent spirits, a dark coven of witches, and a powerful demon behind it all. The chemistry between Abbie and Crane is growing stronger as they work together and put their lives on the line for the sake of humanity, despite the cost to their lives and loves. I want to bottle similar elements into a book. There are so many things I am learning about good writing. Thanks to Fox, the Sleepy Hollow Writers and Phillip Iscove for bringing a quality show like this to TV.
 
For other Sleepy Heads, have you seen the online map on the Fox site? HERE is the link. Bone up for the upcoming 2-hour finale (two back to back eps that will be an event held on Jan 20th). Yes, this means we have to wait, but this show is worth waiting for. I can’t even imagine having Ichabod for two hours. (Well, actually I can, but that’s a whole ‘nother post…with a different rating than PG.)
 

Congratulations to Fox and the cast of Sleepy Hollow for getting picked up for a second season. Fox has a major hit on its hands!!!
 
For the purposes of discussion:
 
1.) Are you a Sleepyhead? Will you be watching the 2-hour finale on Jan 20th?
 
2.) What are your favorite elements of the show – as a writer – as a viewer?
 
3.) What clothes would you like to see Ichabod wear? I’ve heard rumor of a hoodie, but I truly believe Crane’s clothes are his security blanket. Will he part with them? If not, what will his compromise be?

30 comments:

  1. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

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  2. I managed to catch an episode during a visit back home this past October and, even during that single viewing, it struck me as a well-written show. If it ever comes to Blighty (on a channel I can get on my basic free-view), I'll be sure to catch it.

    I grew up in the area where the REAL Legend of Sleepy Hollow took place (I went to Ichabod Crane high school, even) so I am a little miffed at the liberties taken with our beloved local-hero, but at least now people don't look at me in disbelief when I tell them the name of my alma mater.

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    1. Very interesting, Michael. Didn't realize there was a high school named after Crane. Yes, the show takes liberties, but it portrays Crane in a heroic light, and in a creative way. The show is reviving interest in the legend. Thanks for sharing your history.

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  3. I haven't watched anything other than the pilot which I saw without sound on a plane (which doesn't really count!) Sounds though like it's totally my cup of tea so I'll have to see if I can play catch up over the holidays!

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    1. I had missed the pilot and it's not easy to find since it's not ON DEMAND with the rest of the episodes, but it's good to see them in order. Definitely worth the effort. Writers should appreciate this show, even if it's not their normal cup of tea, if they break it down for its many rich offerings.

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  4. Hrm...may have to check it out when I get to a point of being able to watch TV. I love shows that combine history with a good story, especially if they get the history mostly right...or at least believable.

    Shows like Quantum Leap were my big favourites years back. This one sounds even more interesting.

    Thanks for sharing.

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    1. Basil- This show is like looking into your head. Scary thought, I know, but I can guarantee you will find many gems that could inspire your hefty creativity. It's definitely your thing.

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  5. I'm a Sleepy Head, have watched all episodes multiple times (you have to go back and really pay attention to the dialogue), and will definitely be watching the 2 hour finale. I love Ichabod's look but one has to be realistic and know that he has to change clothes to assimilate. IRL I've seen Tom Mison joke about all the corduroy he has bought. I actually picture Ichabod in just that. I see him dressed as a young, casual, New England, university professor type: corduroy jacket - jacket is a must, it's the security blanket, wool sweaters layered with oxford shirts (no ties), casual trousers, leather shoes or short boots. No sneakers, no bright colors, stick with neutral and dark colors. Pea coat in winter. Almost forgot - boxer briefs! :) The long hair needs to stay, cutting his hair would be too modern and I think the hair also provides security and connection to his past. Here's a link to an article with a picture of an outfit that I sort of envision him wearing. http://www.bows-n-ties.com/mens-fashion-tips/fashion-guide-to-corduroy/

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    1. OMG, love this. Can totally see him channeling in his Oxford professor father's footsteps. In an interview, Tom slipped and said Ichabod would be forced to change. Hmmm?

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  6. Middle English hadn't been spoken for well over a hundred years when the Roanoke Colony was lost. Heck, even Elizabethan/Shakespearean English was fading away.

    That's not to say that the average American could completely understand the colonists, but the average English major could figure it out.

    That's the biggest historical gaffe made so far.

    The writing is excellent, and the writers/creators haven't let success mess things up, and I hope they won't.

    In praising the series, let's not forget Headless' demon Lipizzaner stallion who does airs above the ground, offers serious eye candy, and brings help to Headless. I call the horse Lassie Lipizzaner.

    The show is filmed in Wilmington, NC, with many of its outdoor scenes filmed in Salisbury, NC. Both are so warm, even in winter, that poor Mison in his wool coat is probably cooking. Let's hope the poor man gets some cooler, trendy clothes.

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    1. Hi Marilyn. Yes, Tom said in an interview that NC humidity is killing his heavy jacket sweltering body.

      On the Middle English, they consulted with a scholar and got a linguist to help the cast. It seemed well done to me and kudos to them for the effort. Thanks for joining in the chat.

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    2. The white stallion is stunning.

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  7. Don't be sad for the finale of Sleepy Hollow. Be filled with joy at the return of Justified on January 7 (just in time for my birthday).

    I've been enjoying Sleepy Hollow, too, for many of the same reasons you mention. One you didn't is that these two are working together, and neither one of them has the expectation of a romantic relationship with one another. One of my pet peeves is the whole well-if-they-work-together-they-must-want-to-sleep-together attitude that you see between male/female leads on a lot of tv shows. Cause, you know, that happens all the time (I'm rolling my eyes). They're also both intelligent characters. Unlike you, I can't wait for him to get some new duds. Every time I look at him in that 200+ year old jacket that he wears day in and day out, all I can think is that thing must be awfully rank. I keep expecting someone to come up to him, gag, and say "Dude! You stink!". I'm not a big fan of corduroy. I think a military inspired men's jacket would do him justice. Take a look at the jacket here http://trendseve.com/mens/mens-military-inspired-jackets.php/attachment/mens-military-inspired-black-jacket and you'll agree he'd look mighty fine in it.

    I enjoy the fish out of water bits - the Onstar scene was hilarious - but I'm glad they don't do them all the time. I wouldn't want it to be just a fish out of water show. That would get old fast, plus it makes those bits so much more special when they happen.

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    1. Wow, the military style is a very cool idea. I think he'd gravitate toward the familiarity of style & function he understands. Agreed.

      And I am eagerly awaiting Justified & Hannibal. All these shows have excellent writing, yet are quite different (except for their goal of striving for excellence in a sea of mediocrity).

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    2. There's a formality to the period attire he would seek out, like a jacket to cover the feeling of being naked in just a shirt (as I've researched of the time). Poor Tom may be suffering through NC humidity if his wardrobe sticks to something Ichabod might choose for himself.

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  8. I am most certainly a Sleepy Head and have been enamored with the story line from the start. Any writer who can successfully twist folklore and mix it with history holds high marks on my 'way to go' list. As for what Ichabod might choose to wear, he'd select on the practical side: jeans, sturdy boots, a coat reminiscent of the frock he currently wears and in natural fibers with plenty of movement.

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    1. On my Jordan Dane Fringe Dweller blog, I put together images of clothes he might choose. A fun project. Thx, Jeannie!

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  9. This is also one of my favorites, and definitely my favorite new show of the season for all the reasons you stated, Jordan.

    I'm in the minority I suppose but I like Crane being in his old clothes. Sure I get in real life they'd be smelly or would have probably disintegrated by now, but artistically they are his 'uniform', what makes him standard as different--visually. Plus I get his attachment to them. They are his only link left to who he was and where he came from.

    Another point that bothers me--I was born and raised in Westchester County (where Sleepy Hollow really is)--and I have to grit my teeth every time they mention the Sleepy Hollow sheriff's department. There's no such thing. Sheriff's department's are county level agencies, not part of a town like they have them here.

    Another thing, while there is a Westchester County Sheriff and department, unlike in most of the country, the Sheriff's department there does not have a patrol and investigation function. They are tasked only with prisoner transport, courthouse protection and county jail corrections duties,

    Patrol and investigations are handled by the Westchester County Police, a separate agency. Why do they need two agencies--I have no clue, but they do.

    None of that is either here nor there, just figured if we have to change Crane's clothes to be realistic, I guess the name of the department should be right, too.

    All that said, I can envision a pretty funny scene with Mills and Crane trying out various styles of clothes. I think Crane would elect to keep his old ones.

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    1. Hey, David. A sheriff allows for small town living and containment of what's happening is easier, but I had a feeling the jurisdiction wasn't right.

      A shopping spree could be fun. I think Crane wouldn't play a Ken doll, but a change in clothes is practical. He's got to be tired washing his clothes and drying with a hair blower.

      Like you, I like his period clothes, but now that they got season 2 in the bag, the show has to address his attire. Check out my Jordan Dane Fringe Dweller blog for images I think would work. Thanks, David.

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  10. I have watched this show from the start and love the different elements that make it. In particular, the Biblical references along with the occult (magic, witches, demons, etc.) weave together surprisingly well. And the writing is superb. Sleepy Hollow is a huge win. And Tom Mison is dreamy!!! I have read the dialogue about what he wears... and I really don't care. I think he would like Fab in anything:)

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    1. Tom would look good in anything, but Crane is so sassy and opinionated, I would imagine he'd have opinions about practicality and clothes that "feel" familiar. His attire is the last vestige of his time. I think it would signal a significant line to cross, one of acceptance of his role in present day. Thanks, Robin.

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  11. I'm a Sleepyhead who live tweets every episode under my pen name, Dax Varley. Love Orlando Jones' live tweets. The man's hilarious. While the writing is good, there are some cheesy moments that make me love it even more. It's overtaken Supernatural as my favorite TV show.

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    1. I live tweet under @JordanDane. That's why I record to watch later, but the live tweets are so hilarious. I also send messages to Phil Iscove, a co-creator & writer for the show. I love how active the actors are online while the show is on. It helps build a following.

      I'll have to pay more attention to Orlando. My inner smart a** comes out and I respond to other sleepyheads as the spirit moves me.

      The tongue in cheek humor of the show and Mison's brilliant delivery and wonderful acting makes this a must see for me. As a writer myself, I am drawn to well written shows and I have several top favs now - Hannibal, Justified, and now Sleepy Hollow. Another show I like that has the same irreverent humor and dartboard approach to putting a plot together is Banshee. The acting is great and the dark humor is noteworthy.

      Thanks, Dotti! (Oh and check out @sassyhollow on twitter. They post their fav Crane sassy lines when his attitude flares. Fun stuff.)

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  12. Thanks! I'll check it out. You'll see my tweets under @daxvarley.

    And I'm a huge Justified fan too. :)

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    1. The new Hannibal is graphic, but Hugh Dancy (Brit) is amazing as profiler Will Graham and Mads Mikelson plays Hannibal, redefining the role. A brilliant take on the Red Dragon book by Harris. If you have the same taste as I do, you'll love it.

      What is up with these gorgeous Brits?

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  13. Crane's wardrobe does need to update, but I see him going "cowboy" in an oilcloth duster. http://www.gilleyswesternstore.com/order/465.htm
    Cowboy boots probably wouldn't work for him, but I can see this coat paired with motorcycle boots. Jeans and button-down shirts, and he's all set. Comfortable, but more modern looking. And still VERY sexy. :)

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    1. You can't go wrong dressing that guy in anything. Thanks, Audrey.

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  14. The writers and producers said they'll be updating his clothing, but it'll still have that a hint of Revolutionary period look.

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    1. I totally agree, Dotti. Crane would need to feel comfortable in any change.

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