Sunday, September 22, 2013

Pilot Thoughts: Sleepy Hollow and Brooklyn Nine-Nine

The official Fall Season Premiere week doesn't officially begin until tomorrow, but there have already been a few shows to make their debut, more notably from FOX. Here are my thoughts on two of those shows.

With more and more options on TV, many new shows try to hook viewers in with more and more outrageous concepts. It's certainly a risk that could be highly rewarded (Lost), but more often than not results are less than promised with shows like Revolution, Flashforward, and Ringer coming to mind. And yet there does seem to be those few shows recently that successfully sell and deliver their crazy premise and twisty plots with their pilots (Revenge, Awake, Last Resort). I say all of this, because I think FOX's Sleepy Hollow might be in the latter group.

Certainly the show has the cracked out premise down. A British soldier by the name of Ichabod Crane, who defects and fights for George Washington during the Revolutionary War by most notably beheading a fearsome red coat soldier riding a horse, is brought back to life in modern times where he works with a deputy by the name of Abbie Mills to investigate all the weird and supernatural things in her town including the return of Crane's now headless horseman. And I didn't even mention witches, demons, a passing reference to the four horsemen of the Apocalypse. It's certainly a brand new take of Washington Irving's famous short story. But yet I found it all working somehow. The show's pilot walks the fine line of embracing its weirdness while also providing a refreshing sense of gleeful sincerity in its tone (or as much sincerity is possible for a show like this). Tom Mison and Nicole Beharie, playing Crane and Mills respectively, already have great chemistry with one another giving us yet another great female-male partnership on TV. I'm also fully intrigued by the burgeoning mythology and promise of a larger world full of things that go bump in the night, giving the show lots to work from. In that way the show feels like a hybrid of Fringe and Supernatural, which is big plus on my book. But really, I'm going to watch more episodes, because the pilot was just plain fun. B+

Speaking of fun shows, Brooklyn Nine-Nine is a keeper. While its pilot wasn't laugh-out loud funny, it made up for it by having interesting characters that already seem fully realized, a tough feat to achieve early especially with sitcoms. The show itself doesn't have as challenging a premise as Sleepy Hollow as it mostly revolves around the hi-jinks a group of detectives at a specific precinct get themselves into. Andy Samberg plays a cocky, freewheeling detective that butts up against the new and serious captain played by Andre Braugher, which I still think is the best casting ever this pilot season. The other supporting characters get their token scenes in the pilot to show us just enough to know what they're like and I'm looking forward to seeing more from them. But really, how could anyone not like a show where Braugher is shown in slow-motion saying "manscaping?" I already want more! B/B+

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