You’ve probably all experienced it: you begin watching a television show, either because your friends have been raving about it or the trailers sparked your interest enough to watch the pilot episode. Suddenly you have a new show. The first episode is well written, exciting, and leaves you with a shocking cliffhanger, basically forcing you to come back next week. Other times the pilot is average, nothing special but interesting enough for you to give it a second chance. And then the season takes off—there are twists and turns, shocking revelations, and interesting character developments. You’re pretty much hooked at this point, happy that the so-called golden era of television has given you yet more good content and entertainment. The season ends and you can’t wait for the next. You follow the shows and its actors on Twitter, you set alerts on your phone for news pertaining to the show, be it additions to the cast or the launch of a clothing line inspired by the main character.
This is one of the reasons I love television, now more than ever. Recently, I’ve actually come to recognize that I love it more than movies, because there is much more space for characters and plot to develop; often you get 12 to 22 hours for one storyline rather than the customary two and a half. However, there is also a downside to this. And that is when the show no longer excites you, when it begins to disappoint, irritate, and make you frustrated to the point where you decide that it’s time to end it.
I’ve experienced this at different times, one of which is right now with Sleepy Hollow. I didn’t watch the first season live—I tend to have a habit (with a few exceptions) of waiting until the first season is done and then trying it out in time to watch the second season live. Instead, I binge-watched Season 1 on Hulu and loved it. Sleepy Hollow is a science fiction show deeply tied to history, two of my favorite things. It includes time travel, monsters, and magic, all things that draw me to certain stories. And the first season was brilliant; it was dark, scary at times, funny in others, and most of all well written. It didn’t hurt that the main character was a black woman. I was excited to watch season 2 when it came out.
This excitement quickly faded. In writing season 2, the writers seemed to deliberately go against all of the things that made the show great: the chemistry between main characters Abbie Mills and Ichabod Crane, the relationship between the Mills sisters, and the conflict between Abbie’s actual job and her biblical one. Instead, they decided to focus more on the relationship between Ichabod and his wife, a supposedly powerful but mostly annoying witch named Katrina, who literally everyone who watched the show could care less about, and soon came to hate. They sidelined Abbie—who, as I said is the main character—and her sister Jenny, focusing instead on the least interesting character on the show. At the same time, the storyline started becoming messy and uninteresting. The monsters-of-the-week didn’t feel nearly as terrifying, and the decline in the quality of writing began to expose the holes the show had in the beginning but were easy to ignore when it was enjoyable.
I continued to watch the show because Sleepy Hollow is on Fox, a network famous for ruining its shows, namely sci-fi, before their time, most notably Firefly. Between seasons 1 and 2 there had been rumors that the show might be cancelled, and so when season 2 was announced I was really committed to watching so that it would stay on. Towards the end of the season, however, I fell completely off. I’d lost interest and didn’t really want to watch. I don’t know what it was that made me finish season 2, though I really enjoyed the finale. However, this just makes it all worse; the fact that I liked the finale gave me hope for season 3, but even before it aired it became clear that the show was doomed.
For one, Fox moved Sleepy Hollow from its original time on Mondays to Thursdays at 9pm, which the same time Scandal comes on. Now, I had some issues with Scandal season 4 (though I don’t think it was nearly as bad as season 2 of Sleepy Hollow) but if you made me choose between the two, I would choose Scandal every time and I’m pretty sure anyone who watches both shows would choose the same. Scandal and Shonda Rhimes’ #TGIT on ABC is the most popular thing to watch on Thursday, so placing Sleepy Hollow in that spot was a clear sign that Fox was done with this show. Even still, I recorded Sleepy Hollow so that I could watch on Fridays and therefore still give them the ratings. But then they added the Bones/Sleepy Hollow crossover, something else that makes no sense. The episode was boring, and I found myself no longer caring about the plot or the main villain, the town of Sleepy Hollow, or the characters. I’m still not sure what Lance Gross’s character is doing on the show even though I was excited for him to join the cast, they’ve totally confused Ichabod’s timeline, and the subplot with Jenny and Joe is uninteresting. Essentially, this season of the show feels much more like a watered-down parody of itself.
While I plan to watch the show at least until the Winter Break, I have had a similar situation with another show. A few years ago, I began watching Revenge in a similar fashion. It was recommended by a friend and seemed like something I would like so I watched the first season on Netflix. The first season was amazing as it followed a woman bent on revenge on a family for her father’s being framed for a terrorist attack he didn’t commit. It was thrilling and had great twists, as well as development for both the protagonist and her enemies, often making you root for characters you technically weren’t supposed to like.
However, the second season was even worse than that of Sleepy Hollow. They focused too much on the wrong people, added unnecessary characters, and made me hate the ones I had once loved. The plot began to lag, cementing my opinion that revenge stories are best kept to movies or one season of television. We shouldn’t have to wait four whole seasons for this one character to get revenge; it becomes boring. Like with Sleepy Hollow, I soldiered on through season 2 and the finale, again, gave me hope. Season 3 started off much better, making me think that it was just a bump in the road, but halfway through the season the show began to lag again. There were unnecessary twists and frustrating character developments. I fell off in the middle and only finished the season once it was on Netflix. There was a fourth season, but I only got as far as the second episode.
Right now I don’t have a lot of confidence in Sleepy Hollow. I’m no longer excited to watch, and it feels more like a chore than a mode of entertainment. As of right now, I still plan on watching, but we’ll see after the Winter Break.