A screening, diminutive question and answer session and an even more abridged sneak preview of the season two premiere was the culminating event for the grassroots Emmy campaign, For Your Consideration, by Fox’s breakout hit Sleepy Hollow.
You’re probably tired of reading “breakout hit” by now. There’s a possibility I’m tired of writing it (I haven’t decided yet). The fact is, you keep reading it and writers keep writing it because the huge success of Sleepy Hollow was that much of a surprise – to everyone. Sleepy Hollow proved itself over the course of 13 episodes in Fox’s 2013 fall lineup and they did so with relatively new faces.
After an early second season renewal, attracting a solid cult following, receiving rave reviews from critics and the ratings to back up both, Emmy nods would seem the next logical eventuality for the show. So, why the campaign? Fox’s VP of marketing and communications, Shannon Ryan, told The Hollywood Reporter the network was concerned that the January ending of the first season put the show too far in the back of voters’ minds. Well Shannon, we’re glad you think so. Because this means we, the fans, get more of what we love.
You know, the little things, like Nicole Beharie and Tom Mison walking red carpets at cemeteries and seven-foot headless horseman cruising the adjacent gravesite to pose with fans. When things like this are the norm and totally appropriate for your show, it’s difficult to imagine anyone would forget about this brand new underdog of a television series.
Still, we’re happy Fox, who’s in as much need of some Emmy love as they are a well-loved show with staying power, decided to embark upon this humbly narcissistic journey and more importantly invite the fans along for the ride. Ryan is right. The cast and crew who bring mini-movies directly to our TV screens every week certainly deserve credit and recognition for it. Nicole Beharie and Tom Mison gracing the cover of the latest Emmy’s Magazine issue should help with that.
The screening and Q&A was held at the Masonic lodge inside Hollywood Forever Cemetery and the fans, the Sleepy Heads were well-represented Monday night. Before the headless horsemen joined Beharie and Mison on the red carpet they spent some well-received quality time with the early-arriving fans.
Fans were allowed to check in starting just before 6 p.m. and by 7:15 the entire line still hadn’t been seated. The fans already inside were kept entertained with a slideshow of still shots from season one as well as some behind the scenes clips with actors and crew members explaining various tidbits like special effects, stunts, plot development and more.
Once Buzzfeed senior editor, Jarrett Wieselman, got the event underway, fans and Academy of Television Arts & Sciences members were treated to a big screen viewing of the season one finale before the panelists were introduced. From right to left executive producers Alex Kurtzman and Roberto Orci took their seats in the very plush, vintage-style, high backed chairs that looked handpicked from an antique shop specifically for this event. Beharie and Mison were both welcomed with resounding applause before executive producers Len Wiseman and Heather Kadin took their places stage left (audience’s right) next to the two stars.
Watching the finale with a room full of others in close proximity was an interesting treat. You got to see general reactions, which parts people thought were funny and which parts made viewers cringe or curl into the person next to them.
Wieselman did a great job facilitating the panel and the fans did a great job once again asking a few interesting questions of their own.
What’s the thing that surprised you most about making season 1?
ORCI: How much people embraced the historical aspect of the show.
MISON: How sadistic writers can be; the amount of alliteration…they’re all determined to be the writer to break Tom Mison.
WISEMAN: The amount of non-genre fans.
It was good to find out I wasn’t the only non-genre person expecting to dislike Sleepy Hollow only to find myself ready to curse anybody who dare interrupt me on Monday nights at 9 p.m. Anyone who’s ever had a conversation with any member of the “Mills Militia” (our self-dubbed sub-collective of Abbie & Jenny Mills fans) knows we’re here for Nicole Beharie, Lyndie Greenwood, Abbie and Jenny. Many of us gave the show a chance simply because of Beharie’s involvement, expecting have to grin & bear through a few episodes or maybe even the first season, only to find ourselves hooked minutes into the pilot.
As if on cue a fan followed up by asking Beharie to elaborate about her experience playing Abbie Mills:
“It’s really been a gift. When you do a film, you have your arc and you have your two hours and you walk away. And with this you have 13 (arcs) or 18 of them so you get to continue to come back and renegotiate with your cast and with whatever is being scripted…and with what’s happening next. And I think that’s a massive gift! Going from the pilot where (Abbie) is completely a non-believer and a skeptic and thought this guy was a kook, to the finale…where she basically sacrificed herself. It’s enormous and it’s a lot of fun! Going into season two, there’s more!”
The panel also discussed the chemistry between Beharie and Mison, of course, as well as the excellence of the show’s makeup artists. Mison noted that the MUAs approach each task as if they are creating entirely new characters, which in turn helps them during their scenes by making their jobs as actors easier.
The best part of the panel discussion was Nicole Beharie and Tom Mison discussing how well the show runners get it right! Mison even brought up the Bechdel test (though he pronounced it wrong), praising the show for passing it each and every week. The Bechdel test is one measure used to evaluate gender bias or gender portrayal in media. In order to pass a film or TV show must have at least two women who talk to each other about something other than a man.
Surprisingly, or unsurprisingly depending on just how aware you are, most films and TV fail this test dismally, despite that fact that on average films that pass the test have been found to see an equal or better financial performance than those that don’t, even though most of the ones that do have smaller budgets. We’re all happy Sleepy Hollow is doing it right, undoubtedly it’s a large part of what makes the show so great.
On the other hand no one is happy about the current situations the season one finale left our beloved characters in. The executive producers admitting their intention was to leave “each character in the worst possible predicament by the end of the season” doesn’t really help ease the agony. Ichabod was buried alive in a box after his whispering wife was whisked away by his archenemy, Abraham (one of the headless horsemen).
Oh and the sin eater, the man who’s been on their side this whole time, supposedly helping them fend off the apocalypse, has revealed himself to be Ichabod’s and Katrina’s once-dead, half-mortal, half-witch son who has daddy issues and probably PTSD. In my humble opinion I think he’s got only-child syndrome too.
Jenny Mills, former psych patient and ironically the seemingly only sane one in the bunch, was gunned down by Headless on a horse while en route to stop big sister, Abbie from making quite possibly the noblest foolish decision to trade places with Katrina in purgatory. Now Abbie is scheming, plotting and planning in a life-size dollhouse with teenage Jenny and Abbie, who have revealed themselves to be the memories taken away from her and Jenny by top demon, Moloch.
Are you still following?
If not, you better get it together before September 22, when season 2 premieres, because the cast and crew has already warned us we’re in for a bigger, better, scarier and heavier season and this time over the span of 18 episodes (Toddler Jesus answers prayers!). In addition to telling fans to “buckle up,” Beharie advises to “watch the season 1 finale right before the season 2 premiere.” This bit of advice leads me to believe the premiere picks up right where season one left off and no one is even hinting at how long each of our characters will remain in peril.
As much as I thought this event would provide some much needed answers it would seem I’d be disappointed that I walked away with more questions. However, disappointment was just not something I experienced. In fact, I’m even more excited for the premiere of season two and that is mostly because I trust the writers, show runners, and the cast and that trust only grows with each interview we’re granted.
All in all it was an awesome event, short and sweet. Tom Mison was his usual funny and charming self and Nicole Beharie, normally the more reserved one in any interview or panel, was surprisingly more playful (and hilarious) than we’ve ever seen her during these press events. From her red carpet poses to the jokes she landed during the panel, we got to see a side of Ms. Beharie that we always wish we could see more of.
Even though she wasn’t able to sign many autographs or pose for many pictures because of how quickly she was whisked away, she made up for it by immediately hopping on Twitter and engaging her fans – another rare occurrence that is becoming more and more frequent.
Playful Nicole Beharie, charming Tom Mison, headless horsemen, gravesites, the Bechdel test and a season two preview of Sleepy Hollow – Monday was a good day.