"The big theme of this show is that good doesn't just fight evil; the devil can't just walk up to you and shoot you," Kurtzman said. "He has to make people turn on each other."

Washington Irving's "The Legend of Sleepy Hollow" has been adapted for the big and small screens numerous times, beginning with a silent film in 1922 and perhaps most notably in recent history by Tim Burton in the Johnny Depp movie "Sleepy Hollow."

Beyond some references, though, the show would seem to have little in common with the Irving story, which was a 17-page riff on two contrasting 19th-century men fighting over a woman while the legend of the headless horseman simply hovered in the background.

But the writers say the series has deeper Irving roots than it might first appear — they wanted to create a world that would feel familiar to the characters of Irving's story.

And despite the elaborate mythologies, the creators say that they ultimately believe Abbie and Crane's personal journey is paramount.

"We want to take a true genre show that also uses real people with real emotional and psychological consequences," said Olin, who in addition to directing episodes is serving as an executive producer.

"I don't think you see that in a lot of genre shows."

Beharie said that she also thought the show broke ground in another way: with a black female protagonist.

"When do you see that in a genre show or movie?" she said. "It's almost never done."

Earlier in the day, the actress (most recently seen as Rachel Robinson in the recent big-screen hit "42") and Mison stood in a giant soundstage room tricked out with manuscripts and Gothic furniture. It's the show's archive, a kind of unofficial headquarters and sacred space where the two retreat to make sense of everything, even if they sometimes speak in thickly mythological terms like "the high priestess of Abaddon."

The house's overstuffed nature is itself a good metaphor for the show. "Talking to people back home I can't really compare this to anything because there's no one thing it's like," the Brit Mison said when asked how he would define the show.

Then, making sure there was one more reference po'Derek'int, he added, "It's about the outsider who rides into town and tries to fix things," he said. "So I guess I see it as a western."

'Sleepy Hollow'

Where: Fox

When: 9 p.m. Monday

Rating: TV-14-LV (may be unsuitable for children under the age of 14 with advisories for coarse language and violence)