Fox's new hit supernatural drama (although viewers have dipped to 7.8m since the premiere's 10.1m) was created by Alex Kurtzman and Robert Orci, who co-created Fox's Fringe with JJ Abrams. And the two shows share some similarities, which are obscured quite well, but become increasingly apparent when you stop to think about...
- Both shows involve a protagonist who hasn't been active in the modern world for a period of time and is now something of a misfit. Fringe's Walter Bishop spent 15-years in an insane asylum and is a bit of a loony, while Sleepy Hollow's Ichabod Crane spent 200-years asleep underground and is a fish-out-of-water in the modern world.
- Sleepy leans on the cop show tradition of having a male and female partnership at its centre, while Fringe went for a less common and trickier trio (genius Walter, estranged son Peter, tough FBI agent Olivia Dunham). That's a clear difference, but the fourth episode of Sleepy suggests that Abby's sister Jennifer is going to be an important part of the story moving forward. So that might give Sleepy a similar trio of heroes; especially as two of them are also blood relatives. Only this time it's estranged siblings instead of an estranged parent and child...
- This time it's the heroine's sister who's spent time in a mental asylum, not the hero's father.
- The villains in Sleepy appear to be a secretive cult doing terrible things around town, hoping to usher in the apocalypse according to scripture. That's similar to Fringe's own use of a "science terrorists" in season 1 (although their 'Bible' was written by Walter), whom we later learned wanted to collapse two ancient alternative universes to create a new and opulent third.
- The heroes of Sleepy have a black boss, doing a clichéd gruff performance. The Wire's Lance Reddick provided that character type in Fringe, and in Sleepy we get Evolution's Orlando Jones. I demand a refund!
- Ichabod and Walter are both isolated from their wives, but in both cases it feels like time and death won't be a barrier for long.
- Ichabod and Abby have an eccentric-looking headquarters in what's essentially a disused "basement", which evokes memories of Walter Bishop's Harvard lab. Only minus a cow.
There even seems to be a touch of Benedict Cumberbatch's Sherlock Holmes to Crane's character at times, and Kurtzman/Orci co-wrote Star Trek into Darkness (that starred Cumberbatch as its big villain). Oh well, pop-culture's a fun stew everyone's encouraged to dip into.
What do you think? Have I been over-thinking the similarities between these Kurtzman/Orci genre shows, or do you think Fringe is indeed being used as a rough template? And how fun will it be when John Noble (Walter Bishop), appears on the show soon? Yes, that's happening.