Sleepy Hollow: I Witness – It’s a Hard Knock Life

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While it is always good to see anything directed by Peter Weller (RoboCop, Longmire), the season three premiere of Sleepy Hollow, I Witness felt a little lacking in the character department. With the last season exit of John Noble (Fringe, Devil’s Playground) and Katia Winter (Banshee Chapter, Dexter) this first foray into Sleepy Hollow with a new “big bad” felt a little underpopulated.

The last horseman, the headless chap, is dispatched early on in I Witness by a singing Shannyn Sossamon who plays Pandora (the girl with the box). While it was nice to see Sossamon gainfully employed after Wayward Pines,  the song picked for her character to sing was…in a word, vile. Still, she looks to be an interesting addition to the verse. 

Stars Tom Mison, Nicole Beharie and Lyndie Greenwood are all back as Ichabod Crane, “Leftenent” Abbie Mills and her sister Jenny respectively while Orlando Jones is missing, his character has moved away from the rather busy burg. Nikki Reed, as Betsy Ross (so much more than a seamstress) will be a regular considering that flashback sequence in I Witness and the IMDb credit list.

The plot of the first episode continued with the tradition of tongue in cheek humor.  Pandora releases a Chinese demon which is “fear” and can only be harmed when its eyes go white. This is then incorporated into American history to imply that “only shoot when you see the whites of their eyes” referred to colonist militia shooting the demon “back in the day” and not the enemy red coats.

Since the last season ended, Abbie is now with the FBI, and her boss is C. Thomas Howell, aka Special Agent in Charge Granger. Crane has been searching for his identity and then detained in immigration when he tries to bring a historical artifact into the country.

On a sidenote, Howell has been one busy chappy this year, showing up in ABCs Stitchers as Kirsten’s Clarke’s (played by Emma Ishta) dad earlier in the year.

The writing for this episode was rather interesting with Crane telling Abby at the end of the episode that he apparently was not too pleased with how the country he fought for has turned out, but, it is the only one he has. This bit of dialogue feels like a not-to-thinly-veiled patriotic moan about the state of America.

The demon was   scary enough and Pandora may turn out to be as interesting as Noble’s Henry Parish, but as good an actress as Sossamon is, one cannot quite picture her chewing up the scenery with the same zeal as the Australian actor.  Still, since Katia Winter left, there needed to be a pinup replacement and apart from being a very qualified performer, Shannyn is truly lovely to watch.

Mills and Mison, as well as Greenwood, still have that splendid chemistry and it will be interesting to see just what Nikki Reed’s Betsy Ross and Crane got up to in the old days. It is, however,  the humor; those good old sly, eye winking moments that continues to make Sleepy Hollow a  treat to watch.

For example: At the start of the season opener, Crane is in the detention center and questioning his role in life and what the whole thing is about. His cell mate, peeking out from under the top bunk, states that “It’s a hard knock life…for us.” Later, when Pandora and Abbie meet at the bar and Crane is back at the table, the music playing in the background is “It’s a Hard Knock Life.”

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Clever and witty, as usual, with a high caliber director (Weller) helming the first episode, FOX have opted to open strong with their third season.  Certainly the old regime will be missed but thus far the show’s newest additions look to be on par with the old crew and this should be a good season for fans.

Sleepy Hollow airs Thursdays on FOX.  Check out the newest season and see if they can outdo that last one.

 

Minority Report Series Premiere: FOX Opts for Science Fiction Again

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FOX opting for another science fiction series after unceremoniously dumping fan favorite Almost Human is a bit puzzling. Perhaps the idea that  the 2002 film Minority Report is connected with Steven Spielberg; who directed the big screen adaptation of Philip K. Dick’s short story. Whereas the futuristic Almost Human had no similar pedigree, except the confidence of J. J. Abrahams,  but it did have pretty devoted following.

In all honesty, the series is quite different from the Tom Cruise vehicle and only uses Dick’s premise very slightly.  Precrimes has been demolished and now the precognitive’s live outside the system,  expelled by the system that their presence helped to create.  The year is 2040 and police have, in essence, taken a huge step back in solving crimes.

Only, however, in that they must now wait for the crime to be committed.  In terms of investigative equipment, law enforcement in this alternative future world have some pretty impressive tools at their disposal.  Including something that looks like a nod and a tweak from the 2010 Sony/Quantic Dream video game Heavy Rain.

In Minority Report, at the start of the episode, one of the precog’s, Dash (played by Stark Sands who looks like a cross between Jessie Eisenberg and perhaps Benedict Cumberbatch) goes to the big city to stop a murder. Sadly, for the victim, he fails since he rushes to the wrong building.

This leaves the police to come in and investigate what happened and this  is where the television version of Minority Report goes all Heavy Rain and Norman Jayden with his ARI system.  In the Quantic Dream game, FBI drug addict Jayden wears a pair of glasses, which could conceivable be seen as the video game world precursor of Google Glasses.

The agent slips the glasses on, along with a pair of special gloves and ARI collects clues, postulates paths and forensically exams evidence. Jayden becomes a walking, talking crime computer.  In the apartment of the murdered woman, Detective Lara Vega (Meagan Good) does not need glasses, she inserts a contact lens and instead of gloves, the detective puts in a single ear plug. 

Using her version of ARI, Vega is able to see what transpired when the victim was attacked and then thrown through and  from her high-rise apartment window.  For all intents and purposes Vega has become Jayden,  sans the ARI side effects which drove the video game character to become addicted to a drug.

The series features technology that has become almost synonymous with the future. The police in 2040 have virtual computers and there are holographic  phones, as well as monitors. This technology also existed in the brain child of creator  J.H. Wyman and executive producer J.J. Abrahams, but their “video game” point of reference appeared to be the 2011 game Deus Ex: Human Revolution.

Karl Urban’s character, in Almost Human,  has an advanced prosthetic, which is the basis behind the verse of the Eidos Montreal game. The former FOX science fiction offering looked further into the synthetic verse from Deus Ex: Human Revolution and had police utilizing androids who were “almost human.”

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Meagan Good as Detective Vega and Stark Sands as Dash.

Minority Report has no Tom Cruise, or small screen equivalent, as its  star. Almost Human had “almost” too many high profile names. Karl Urban, Lili Taylor and the ever-busy Michael Ealy. To be fair to the new series, it does have prolific actress Meagan Good, former horror film regular Laura Regan and “Fez” from That ’70s Show (aka Wilmer Valderrama who is now all grown up and quite the specimen.) 

Still, in the stakes of which show had more star power, if casting were a card game, it would be a case of  “I’ll take your  “Fez” and raise you a Lili Taylor.” Urban trumps all the other names  on offer from Minority Report easily. (That may well have been the real reason behind FOX killing the other science fiction series. Urban made the exodus from TV to film easily and was probably not in a real hurry to return for too long.)

The Minority Report pilot feels a little smug and self gratifying. Director Mark Mylod (Entourage, Ali G Indahouse) seems an odd choice as the season one opening director but the problem with the pilot is not his fault.  Things in this adaptation of an adaptation, clang.

The use of robotic help makes no real sense in some of the scenes. Written, seemingly, for effect, the fast food restaurant scene with the robot cook and the little genetic’s spiel about french fries does not work.  Earlier a robot is demolishing a steel structure and while this scene feels that bit more “real” it still invites more questions than it should.

Another issue is with the pairing of Vega and Dash (Stark Sands). The dynamic between the two feels too much like a re-hash of another FOX offering,  Sleepy Hollow  with its odd-couple formula.

There is, however, one possible saving grace for the new series. During the back half of the pilot, the two precog brothers discuss the Precrime program and the conversation recalls Philip K. Dick’s theme of variable futures and other timelines which the Cruise film did not touch.

This moving back to the source is admirable and leads one to believe that this may turn out all right after all. Granted, the source material is a short story so this return is not the end all be all of the show. There is also the fact that Dash is, in the pilot anyway, pretty infallible with his flashes of precognition and the premise behind Dick’s book was that this cannot, or should not, be the case.

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Vega and Blake (Wilmer Valderrama)

The overall feeling from watching the season premiere of Minority Report is one of expectation rather than satisfaction.  In essence, the jury is out on this Sleepy Hollow version of Philip K. Dick’s bleak future scenario. The show airs Mondays on FOX.  The big question is will this new series suffer the same fate as Almost Human?

‘Sleepy Hollow’ Mid Season Finale Twist (Review)

‘Sleepy Hollow’ Mid Season Finale Twist (Review)

Tis the season of the mid season finale and Sleepy Hollow has given its fans a two parter with a splendid twist and the death of a character. It does feel a little like the show is suffering from The Walking Dead disease of exterminating a favorite character, but in this Fox series they have chosen to take out a member of the cast who has had little to do this season. This quirky show does not have quite the same emotional impact on its viewers that TWD does though, it does have a much more comic feel to it and dead does not mean quite the same thing in this verse. But comedy first…

Sleepy Hollow: Katrina Pregnant and Ichabod is Jealous

Sleepy Hollow: Katrina Pregnant and Ichabod is Jealous

For those viewers who have no real love of spiders, or worse a phobia, the scenes from last week’s epilogue and repeated in this week’s teaser will cause many to have nightmares, but Sleepy Hollow: Deliverance is not about creepy crawlies but Katrina turning up pregnant and Ichabod is, understandably, jealous and not a little upset. This season has had the underlying theme of there being a rift developing between Mr. and Mrs. Crane. One that first cropped up in the Sleepy Hollow episode of The Weeping Lady which revealed that Katrina was keeping secrets from her love about more than just having a son, aka Henry Parish.

Sleepy Hollow: The Weeping Lady Goes For the Scare

Sleepy Hollow: The Weeping Lady Goes For the Scare

In last night’s episode of Sleepy Hollow: The Weeping Lady, the show left humor in an antiquated drawer and the episode goes instead for the scare in a big way. The plot of the episode also went for the heartstrings when it turned out that Katrina has been keeping a few secrets from Ichabod and he was definitely not pleased to learn that his wife had been very frugal with the truth. Before this disturbing news, Abraham, aka the Headless Horseman, is convinced that Katrina Crane is using her substantial magical gifts as a witch to make contact with her husband.