'Sleepy Hollow' review: Fantasy horror

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Tom Mison in

Tom Mison in "Sleepy Hollow," which has been picked up for another season by Fox. Photo Credit: AP

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REVIEW

THE SHOW "Sleepy Hollow"

WHEN | WHERE Premieres Monday night at 9 on Fox/5

WHAT IT'S ABOUT Back in the day (1781), a soldier for the Continental Army beheaded a redcoat in the heat of battle. The soldier, one Ichabod Crane, didn't fare too well himself, and both found themselves buried in the village of Sleepy Hollow, N.Y. (current population, 144,000!) until an evil force awakens them both in 2013. Crane is quickly taken into custody, but Headless is more elusive, plus he wields a wicked broadax that severs the head of Sheriff August Corbin -- played by Clancy Brown, one of TV's pre-eminent voice actors ("SpongeBob") who will hopefully be reunited with his head in future episodes. His partner and protege, Det. Abbie Mills (Nicole Beharie), wants to get to the bottom of this and other atrocities, and enlists 'Bod's help. Why is he back from the dead and does it have something to do with the end of the world? That's your series . . . Produced by Roberto Orci and Alex Kurtzman ("Fringe," "Alias").

MY SAY Get past the hopelessly naive idea that this might be even a remotely faithful adaptation of Washington Irving's much-beloved tale, or that this is even remotely for adults -- and you can then approach "Sleepy Hollow" on its own terms. Those aren't -- surprise -- bad at all.

"Hollow" goes to a place mainstream TV doesn't bother with all that much anymore -- horror fantasy, tentatively rooted in the real world, with elements of myth, the Bible, witchcraft and a smattering of historical balderdash thrown in. These kinds of shows have gone out of favor because they can get real dumb real fast, but you'll have to accept "Hollow" with a certain degree of faith. The show-runners are pros who understand the perils, and probably how to avoid them, too. Plus a huge amount of backstory arrives Monday night -- up to and including where the headless dude's head has gone missing, and why he needs it so badly. That frees up "Hollow" to explore the human characters a little more deeply -- Tom Mison's Crane in particular -- because if you don't care about them, why bother? The fantastical elements aren't going anywhere but they likely won't overwhelm the story each week, either.

BOTTOM LINE Nothing scary here, but "Hollow" is fun enough, and promising enough, too.

GRADE B+

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