Monday, September 30, 2013

What doth a Sherlock Holmes make?

Another literary character came to network television this fall, and after all the discussion of the lead character in CBS's Elementary, this one provides a very interesting contrast.

The TV show is Fox's Sleepy Hollow, and the character is Ichabod Crane, played by Tom Mison.

And here's the thing, he's a horrible Ichabod Crane. Handsome, intelligent, charming, ex-military man of action . . . Fox took some serious liberties with the timid little schoolmaster of Washington Irving's original story, "The Legend of Sleepy Hollow."  And the Headless Horseman, it turns out, is Death of the Four Horseman of the Apocalypse in this version. But turning a single story into an entire season of spooky dramas was going to require a little stretching, so I guess that was to be expected.

Now here's the interesting part: Tom Mison's Ichabod Crane? He actually reminds me more of Sherlock Holmes that an certain other television show that would claim to portray the detective.

He has his own Watson, of course, a local police officer who carries the gun for the team. He has old world style and class, the sort of British cool we expect from a Holmes. He has all sorts of very specialized knowledges that prove useful, he's observant, he's insightful, and, oh, yes, he has a very cool coat. Sherlock Holmes has always been one to pull of the cool coat, even if it's that bloody Invernesse that looks ridiculous on anyone else.

Unlike Sherlock Holmes, this Ichabod Crane dwells in a world where the supernatural is the everyday . . . as many of Sherlock's literary descendents have. As much as Holmes proved Dartmoor demon hounds and Sussex vampires were frauds every time, fellows like William Sebastian (of the movie Spectre) and Flaxman Low (of The Experiences of Flaxman Low) took the job in worlds where such things weren't fake at all. Ichabod seems to be the latest incarnation of that twist in the thread.

Like all television, Sleepy Hollow might be to your taste, and it might not. I'm enjoying it a little bit, and I suspect that might be in part to a lifetime diet of Sherlock Holmes.

No comments:

Post a Comment