Before Lost opened the hatch and Fringe jumped universes, those shows were about disparate people struggling to understand their place in a universe that would eventually become more complicated. The key was starting on a smaller level, making the characters relatable before throwing in heavily serialized and mythology-laden elements.
So goes the story of Sleepy Hollow, which tells the tale of an Ichabod Crane (Tom Mison) who was frozen in time to keep the Headless Horseman at bay. Waking up in present-day Sleepy Hollow, Crane has been partnered with fellow witness Abbie Mills (Nicole Beharie) by Capt. Frank Irving (Orlando Jones). Save for Abbie's sister Jenny (Lyndie Greenwood), Sleepy Hollow has kept the truth about Crane's identity and the war against Moloch and his Horsemen localized to just those three main characters. The show hasn't yet addressed the implications the secret might have on the town, let alone the rest of the world.
And that may partially be responsible for the freshman series' success. Sure, Sleepy Hollow has already had its fair share of crazy moments — the Headless Horseman is surprisingly the least insane creature that goes bump in the night on the Fox drama — but it has grounded itself as a fish-out-of-water story that not only provides comedy, but also has a will-they-won't-they dynamic that gets viewers flocking online to discuss the latest events of the 'ship. There's already so much to enjoy; why complicate it by too quickly adding convoluted mysteries?
Fortunately, the Sleepy Hollow brain trust plans to keep Ichabod's secret just that for now. "We actually see it as a slow burn, so this season is really going to be focused on the characters that we've set up and what parts they play in what's beginning to unravel," executive producer Alex Kurtzman tells TVGuide.com. "As the series progresses, we'll absolutely be opening everybody's minds up to what's really going on there. We have to be very careful about how we do that because part of the fun of the show is that you are with the secret few who know what's really happening and the rest of the world doesn't. We don't want to let that vibe go."
Kurtzman says the writers took a cue from The Matrix in deciding not to open the world up beyond Sleepy Hollow's borders. "It's a tricky thing," he continues. "The first Matrix was so incredible because you were only with the people who knew about The Matrix and it was a small group of rebels. When that story started to open up, the story became less interesting. We want to make sure we don't do that."
Do you think Sleepy Hollow should keep Crane's big secret confined? Or do you hope to see how any numbers of news outlets in this world might react to a Headless Horseman riding through town? Hit the comments!
Sleepy Hollow returns Monday, Jan. 13 at 9/8c on Fox.