By Mary McNamara
11:22 AM CDT, September 12, 2013
"Sleepy Hollow." A resurrected revolutionary war hero, a double-ax wielding horseman (headless), ghost trees, Colonial witches, an authority-defying female cop and at least one very funny Starbucks joke? Long before you can say, "Oh, did we mention the Four Horseman of the Apocalypse?" I am down with Fox's new literate if historically zany spook-fest of a police procedural. Unleash the Cracken!
Loosely, as in the gossamerist of gossamer threads, based on the famous Washington Irving tale, this modern "legend" turns the traditionally nebbishy schoolteacher Ichabod Crane into a dashing member of Gen. George Washington's army who, after beheading and then killing (still, he walks!) a mysterious masked Red Coat, awakens to find himself in 21st century New York state (so, a little Rip Van Winkle thrown in for good measure.) Unfortunately, ol' headless got awakened first, ax swinging, much to the horror of Lt. Abbie Mills (Nicole Beharie), who was just about to shake the dust of this sleepy little town off her standard issues.
When Ichabod (Tom Mison) is mistakenly arrested for the crimes, she hears his tale of a two-century nap and believes. Well, not at first, but soon enough, and they quickly become this season's hottest sleuth couple, tracking down mysterious maps, investigating old graves and bantering as only an 18th century soldier (also, handily, early abolitionist) and a modern-day black woman can.
It's all great fun, until, you know, someone loses a head. No, seriously. The pilot gets more than a little carried away, jamming into one hour what easily could have been spun out over several, but anchored by strong performances and terrific computer-generated imagery, "Sleepy Hollow" could become the love child of "Buffy the Vampire Slayer" and "National Treasure." Who's with me? Fox, Mondays, 9 p.m.
"Brooklyn Nine-Nine." "SNL" alum Andy Samberg stars as the smart-mouth cop every male comedy writer might have become if any of them were willing to tuck in their shirts and wear a belt even sometimes. Not that Samberg's wise-cracking, authority-dissing Jake Peralta does either of these things, and he certainly does not wear a tie, which becomes the pilot's running gag when Mr. Andre Braugher shows up as the new rule-respecting captain. Man-child comedies (and man-children in general) are wearing out their welcome, but this one shows a lot of promise. The pilot really is laugh-outloud funny, and the supporting cast, which includes Joe Lo Truglio (“Superbad”), Chelsea Peretti (“Parks and Recreation”) and Terry Crews (“Arrested Development”) seems strong enough to keep Jake from crossing the line between hilariously annoying and just annoying. Also, it's from "Parks and Rec" producers Michael Schur and Dan Goor, so you know you're in good hands. Fox, Tuesdays, 8:30 p.m.
"Derek." Ricky Gervais departs from his more typical reliance on scathing humor to expose the flawed heart of the matter in favor of an even more direct approach. Playing Derek, an intellectually and socially challenged worker at a small retirement home, he offers a tribute to those who toil in the care of others in this sweet and funny if imperfect series on Netflix. Unapologetically pressing the big buttons -- love and death, isolation and community -- "Derek" sometimes trips over the directness of its intentions, but they are fine ones, and amid the distracting treacle and unnecessary frankness, moments of real beauty shine through. Netflix, anytime.
"Key & Peele." The Season 3 debut from Keegan-Michael Peele and Jordan Peele, the pair who gave us Barack Obama's Anger Translator, continues to delight with social, political and artistic parody. Their sendup of "Les Miz" is not to be missed. Comedy Central, Thursdays, 10:30.
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