REVIEW: 17 AGAIN

CAST

Zac Efron (Bad Neighbours)
Matthew Perry (Serving Sara)
Leslie Mann (This Is 40)
Michelle Tractenberg (Black Xmas)
Sterling Knight (Melissa & Joey)
Thomas Lennon (Memento)
Hunter Parrish (Weeds)
Allison Miller (Terra Nova)
Melora Hardin (The Hot Chick)
Jim Gaffigan (That 70s Show)
Kat Graham (The Vampire Diaries)
Tiya Sircar (The Internship)
Melissa Ordway (Ted)
Brian Doyle-Murray (Groundhog Day)
Josie Loren (21 & Over)
Loren Lester (Red Eye)
Nicole Sullivan (Rita Rocks)
Larry Poindexter (Blade: The Series)

In 1989, seventeen-year-old Mike O’Donnell (Zac Efron) learns during the start of his high school championship basketball game that his girlfriend Scarlet Porter (Allison Miller) is pregnant. Moments after the game begins, he leaves the game and goes after Scarlet, abandoning his hopes of going to college and becoming a professional basketball player.

20 years later, in 2009, Mike (Matthew Perry), now thirty-seven years old, finds his life stalled. Scarlet (Leslie Mann), now his wife and mother of their two children, has separated from him due to his blaming her for his regrets about abandoning his future, forcing him to move in with his geeky, yet extremely wealthy, best friend since high school, Ned Gold (Thomas Lennon). At his job, there comes another reason for his frustration: due to his lack of higher education and since he is significantly older than most of his co-workers, he is passed over for a promotion he deserves in favor of a much younger worker. He quits his job and his high school-age children, seventeen-year-old Maggie (Michelle Trachtenberg) and sixteen-year-old Alex (Sterling Knight) want nothing to do with him. Later, while visiting his high school to reminisce, an encounter with a mysterious janitor (Brian Doyle-Murray) transforms Mike back into his seventeen-year-old self.

Mike then enrolls in high school posing as Mark Gold, Ned’s son, and plans to go to college with a basketball scholarship. As he befriends his bullied son and discovers that his daughter has a boyfriend, Stan (Hunter Parrish), who does not respect her and frequently torments Alex, Mike comes to believe that his mission is to help them. He meets Stan, the captain of the basketball team, and embarrasses him in front of the whole school after Stan insults Alex. Later, in Sex Education class while the teacher is handing out condoms to the students in a basket, Stan turns to Mike and refuses to give him any, saying that he does not need them, causing quiet laughter among the class. Mike then makes a speech about love and sex in front of the whole class for Maggie’s benefit, causing all of the girls to give back their condoms. Stan then takes the condoms claiming that he is stocked up for the weekend and kisses Maggie passionately. Because of this, Mike loses his temper and starts a fight with Stan on the floor, which is being taped by other students and eventually goes viral within a matter of minutes. Mike loses the fight and Ned is called up to the school.

Mike comforts Maggie when Stan dumps her after she refuses to sleep with him. With Mike’s help, Alex overcomes Stan’s bullying to obtain a place with Mike on the basketball team and the girlfriend he desires. Through their children, Mike spends time with Scarlet, who is attracted to his remarkable resemblance to her husband in high school. Mike has difficulty resisting his desire for her despite the relationship’s clear inappropriateness. Mostly Scarlett usually turns down his attractions, because of his youthful appearances. At the same time, he must fend off Maggie’s sexual advances.

Mike soon realizes that Scarlet is the best thing that ever happened to him and finally realizes that his own selfishness has driven his family away. He tries to re-unite with her, briefly forgetting his young form and kisses her during a party, in front of Maggie and other girls, and unsuccessfully explains to her that he is actually her husband. On the day of the court hearing to finalize Scarlet and Mike’s divorce, Mike makes one last attempt to win her back (as Mark) by reading a supposed letter from Mike. He states that although he couldn’t set things right in the beginning of his life, it doesn’t extinguish the fact that he still loves her. He also explains that even though he still wants to be with her, he should let her move on. After he exits, Scarlet notices that the “letter” is actually the directions to the courtroom and she begins to grow curious. As a result, she postpones the divorce by a month. During a high school basketball game, Mike reveals himself to Scarlet. As Scarlet once again runs away down the hall, Mike decides to chase her down once more, but not before handing the ball off to his son. Mike is then transformed back into his thirty-seven-year-old self, and reunites with Scarlet.

The film ends with Mike receiving the gift of a whistle from Ned in celebration of his new job as the high school’s basketball coach after Coach Murphy.

Overall the film was easy to watch, fairly well acted, comical at times and much more grown up than expected – appealing to parents with kids too.

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REVIEW: DC SHOWCASE: JONAH HEX

CAST
Thomas Jane (The Punisher)
Linda Hamilton (The Terminator)
Jason Marsden (Batman: Gotham Knight)
Michael Rooker (Guardians of The Galaxy)
Michelle Trachtenberg (Buffy)
Red Doc, an outlaw that claims he can take on anyone and anything, arrives in town looking for more booze and more action. Madame Lorraine spots him, and after inviting him upstairs, kills him, takes his money and has two of her henchmen dispose of the body.
The next day, Jonah Hex arrives in town, looking to pick up a $5000 bounty on Red. After taking on an arrogant young man who taunts him, Jonah learns from a scared bar girl about Madame Lorraine, who goes after the men with money. Paying the girl off, Hex buys drinks for the entire saloon, getting Lorraine’s attention and joining her upstairs. However, Hex manages to avoid her shot and knocks her out, then proceeds to kill her henchmen. Stepping out of the room, he is shot at by the bartender, whom he kills. He then demands that Lorraine tell him where Red is.
Lorraine takes him to an old mine, and shows him a dark hole that leads to a caved in lower shaft. She and Hex journey down, and it is revealed that Lorraine has murdered at least fifteen men. Grabbing a knife, Lorraine tries once more to kill Hex, who punches her and secures Red’s body. Lorraine comes to just as Hex reaches the top and kicks down the rope trapping her there. Lorraine first pleads that they can be partners, then tells Hex he can’t leave her. Hex says she has plenty of companions whom she knows, then departs. Lorraine trembles as she stares at the dead bodies, the only lamp in the shaft slowly going out, leaving her trapped in the dark.
I liked the raw,unpolished gritty feel of this animated short and i thought the voice acting was pitch perfect.each voice suited their character to a tee.the sound people did a great job bring every little sound to life.if your not familiar with the title character,this short gives you bit of an idea of what kind of person he is,but it doesn’t tell his origin story. All in all,worth watching.this animated short is included as a bonus with the animated film Batman: Under The Red Hood.

REVIEW: TAKE ME HOME TONIGHT

CAST
Topher Grace (That 70s Show)
Anna Faris (Mom)
Dan Fogler (Balls of Fury)
Teresa Palmer (Warm Bodies)
Chris Pratt (Jurasic world)
Michael Biehn (Cherry Falls)
Jessica Hackett (The Words)
Lucy Punch (Bad Teacher)
Michelle Trachtenberg (Buffy)
Bob Odenkirk (Breaking Bad)
Angie Everhart (Last Action Hero)
Edwin Hodge (The Purge)
Seth Gabel (Arrow)
Ginnifer Goodwin (Walk The Line)
The film is set in 1988 Los Angeles. Matt Franklin (Topher Grace) is a recent MIT graduate who works at a Suncoast Video store while trying to figure out what he wants to do with his life, something that his police officer father (Michael Biehn) has grown impatient with. While working one day, Matt’s high school crush, Tori Frederking (Teresa Palmer), randomly walks into the store. After pretending that he doesn’t work there and saying that he works at Goldman Sachs in an effort to impress her, Tori invites Matt to a Labor Day party, hosted by Matt’s twin sister Wendy’s (Anna Faris) boyfriend, Kyle Masterson (Chris Pratt), at his hillside home.
Later that night, Matt, Wendy, and Matt’s best friend, Barry Nathan (Dan Fogler), head to the party. On the drive over, Barry steals a brand new Mercedes-Benz convertible from the car dealership he got fired from earlier that day, justifying his actions by saying that Matt needs the convertible if he really wants to impress Tori. The trio arrive at the party. While there, Matt catches up with an old classmate (who actually works at Goldman Sachs) and then awkwardly tries to woo Tori. Barry snorts some cocaine he found in the glove box of the stolen convertible and gets involved in a dance-off, and Wendy’s boyfriend proposes to her in front of everyone at the party. She says yes, upsetting Matt, who doesn’t think that Kyle will support her in her dream to attend graduate school at the University of Cambridge. Tori eventually invites Matt and Barry to another party her boss is hosting in Beverly Hills. Matt takes Tori there in the Mercedes, while Barry rides with her two friends in another car, using the cocaine as an enticement to let him go along. Barry has a wild sexual encounter with an older woman while Matt and Tori continue to mingle with each other, after Matt’s successful ‘put down’ of Tori’s boss, a habitual sexual harasser. They leave the party to go into a neighbor’s backyard where they jump on a trampoline, play truth or dare, and end up having sex.
Meanwhile, Wendy shares her unopened admissions letter from Cambridge with Kyle, and it is revealed that she was not accepted. Kyle is visibly relieved, while Wendy is visibly upset. Matt confesses to Tori that he doesn’t actually work at Goldman Sachs. Tori gets extremely upset at his deception and storms off, back to her boss’s party, leaving Matt guilt-ridden. Matt finds Barry there and they leave the party, and Matt tells Barry about how he told Tori the truth about his job. Barry patronizes him for not trying to have just one night of enjoyment and attempts to lighten the mood by offering Matt a line of cocaine, despite him driving. Matt, feeling vulnerable, attempts to snort the cocaine, but ends up driving the convertible off the road and into a ditch. A police cruiser soon arrives, and it turns out to be Matt’s dad and his police partner. Already disappointed with Matt’s unwillingness to choose a career path, Mr. Franklin damages the convertible even more as a means of coercing Matt to get a better job in order to pay off the damages. He takes Matt and Barry into custody, but lets them off in the neighborhood with a warning. Matt apologizes to his dad for being such a failure, to which his dad replies that because he’s never even tried to succeed, he’s actually less than a failure. Then, in a less condescending tone, he encourages Matt to take a shot at anything in life.
Knowing Tori has left her car at the party, Matt and Barry make their way back there, where bets are being placed on who will “ride the ball”, a giant, steel sphere that someone enters and rides as it’s rolled down a hill (something Matt’s dad has stated that nobody has done since he himself was a kid). Matt finds Tori at the party and tries to apologize, but Tori is unwilling to forgive him. Feeling he has nothing to lose, Matt volunteers to “ride the ball”. When he does the ball rolls downhill uncontrollably, hitting several parked cars and eventually flying off an embankment before landing in a backyard swimming pool. Matt almost drowns as the ball sinks, but manages to escape just in time. Barry rushes to the scene and walks with Matt back toward the party, meeting up with Wendy and Tori, who are elated to discover he wasn’t killed. Matt apologies to Tori, and she forgives him after playing a little hard-to-get and then gives him her phone number. All four return to the party, which is beginning to wind down as dawn approaches. All who are still there ‘whoop’ it up at Matt’s successful return.
Wendy, after realizing Matt was right all along, ends the engagement and breaks up with Kyle, who experiences a crying breakdown. Pondering his future with a Goth-type girl he met at the party, Barry is told by her that maybe he should go to college. Outside, as she leaves the party, Matt boldly kisses Tori goodbye. Matt’s dad is shown investigating the scene where the steel ball was found. He finds Matt’s Suncoast Video name tag floating in the pool, and smirks proudly. Barry staggers out of the party house, now in a shambles, to meet up with Wendy and Matt, who asks “Who wants breakfast?”, and the three leave together as the sun is rising.
All in all, a great feel-good 80’s experience with some side-splitting scenes courtesy of Dan Fogler.

REVIEW: EUROTRIP

CAST
Scott Mechlowicz (Mean Creek)
Jacob Pitts (The Pacific)
Michelle Tractenberg (Black Xmas)
Travis Webster (God Bless America)
Jessica Boehrs (Storm of Love)
Kristin Kreuk (Smallville)
Vinnie Jones (Arrow)
J.P. Manoux (Knocked Up)
Fred Armisen (Cop Out)
Joanna Lumley (The Cat’s Meow)
Lucy Lawless (Ash vs The Evil Dead)
Jeffrey Tambor (Hellboy 2)
Matt Damon (Interstellar)
The film begins in Hudson, Ohio, where Scott “Scotty” Thomas (Scott Mechlowicz) gets dumped by his girlfriend, Fiona (Kristin Kreuk), immediately after his high school graduation in 2004. With his best friend, Cooper Harris (Jacob Pitts), Scott attends a graduation party that evening and listens to a performance of the film’s main theme song “Scotty Doesn’t Know”, that crudely details the affair Fiona was having with the band’s singer, Donny (Matt Damon), while she was with Scott. Drunk and angry, Scott returns home and receives an e-mail reply from his German pen pal, Mieke (Jessica Boehrs), who expresses sympathy towards Scott after Fiona breaks up with him, and suggests they arrange to meet in person. However, the entire time Scott has known her he has mispronounced Mieke as “Mike”, thinking that she is male. After Cooper suggests that “Mike” may be a sexual predator, Scott angrily tells Mieke to stay away from him. Scott’s younger brother, Bert (Nial Iskhakov), informs him that “Mieke” is a common girl’s name among Germans. Realizing his mistake, and that he has feelings for Mieke, Scott tries desperately to contact her again, only to find out that Mieke has blocked his email address. Encouraged by Cooper and with him in tow, Scott decides to travel to Europe, seek out Mieke, and apologize to her face-to-face.
Scott and Cooper first travel as couriers to London, where they end up befriending the members of a Manchester United football hooligan firm, led by Mad Maynard (Vinnie Jones). After a wild night of drinking, Scott and Cooper wake up on a AEC Routemaster double-decker bus on their way to Paris for a Manchester United game. Once in Paris, they meet up with fraternal twins and fellow high school classmates, Jenny and Jamie (Michelle Trachtenberg and Travis Wester), who are also touring Europe together. Jenny and Jamie decide to accompany Scott and Cooper to find Mieke in Berlin and along the way plan to visit other parts of Europe together, since this will be the last summer the four of them will spend as a group before going off to college. The group travel by train to Amsterdam, where Jamie is robbed while engaging in oral sex with a beautiful camera salesgirl. As Jamie had everyone’s money, passports, and train tickets with him, they have no choice but to hitchhike to Berlin. Scott asks a German truck driver to take them to Berlin to find Mieke. Scott’s German is poor and even though the driver mentions Berlin in his reply numerous times, the foursome fail to realize that he is trying to tell them that he is going nowhere near Berlin. The group ultimately end up in Bratislava, where they are horrified by the desolation of Eastern Europe in the aftermath of the Cold War. Having realised that there is a great exchange rate for the U.S. dollar, they decide to have some fun and the group goes to a nightclub. Drunk on absinthe, Jenny and Jamie French-kiss and make out with each other, witnessed by Scotty and Cooper, and are horrified when they realize what they are doing. The next day, an American-obsessed Slovak man named Tibor (Rade Šerbedžija) finally drives them to Berlin. Scott and Cooper soon find out that Mieke has gone with a tour group for the summer and will likely be reachable in Rome for only a short time. In order to afford plane tickets to Rome to search for Mieke, Jamie sells his precious Leica M7 camera.
In Rome, the four friends head to the Vatican City, where Mieke is touring before leaving for her summer at sea. To gain access, they pretend to be a tour group, with Jamie acting as their guide, another group has lost their guide and joins, allowing Scott and Cooper to search for Mieke. Inside the Vatican, Scott and Cooper accidentally signal the death of the pope and the election of a new pope. Scott appears on a balcony in papal vestments, where he is taken to be the new pope and spots Mieke among the crowd below. While Scott is meeting up with Mieke, the Swiss Guards realize what is going on and detain Scott and Cooper in order to punish them for their actions. However, the Manchester United football supporters from London suddenly show up at the Vatican just in time to release Scott and Cooper. Scott later finally introduces himself, and confesses his love for Mieke in person, with Mad Maynard giving some last-minute advice. Mieke is happy to see Scott, and after having passionate sex with him in one of the confessional booths, tells him to continue writing to her. Jamie is so convincing as a tour guide he is hired by Arthur Frommer. On the flight back to Ohio, Jenny entices Cooper to have sex with her in one of the plane’s lavatories, thus finally realizing his dream of crazy European sex. The film ends when Scott moves to Oberlin College in the fall. During a phone conversation with Cooper, who is now in a relationship with Jenny, an unexpected knock on Scott’s dorm room door turns out to be Mieke, who explains that, due to another misunderstanding about her name, is now his roommate. Scott and Mieke share their passionate embrace, as Cooper’s voice continues to talk over the phone, demanding to know what is going on.
The actors are amazing in their roles and Michelle Transtenberg is simply sensational in her character as Jenny and brings a magic to the film which would probably have been disappointing without her. The film is something that you just have to watch to believe and believe me when I say you will think it’s great too.

REVIEW: COP OUT

CAST
Bruce Willis (Die Hard)
Tracy Morgan (30 Rock)
Adam Brody (Mr and Mrs Smith)
Kevin Pollak (Mom)
Michelle Trachtenberg (Euro Trip)
Jason Lee (My Name Is Earl)
Rashida Jones (I Love You Man)
Seann William Scott (American Pie)
Hannah Ware (Hitman: Agent 47)
James “Jimmy” Monroe and Paul Hodges (Bruce Willis and Tracy Morgan) are cops working for the NYPD who celebrated their ninth year together as partners. After failing to capture suspect Juan Diaz (Cory Fernandez) and for causing a dangerous neighborhood shootout and beating up a child, Jimmy and Paul are suspended without pay. Jimmy’s daughter Ava (Michelle Trachtenberg) is getting married, and the price for the wedding is close to fifty thousand dollars. Though his ex-wife Pam’s arrogant second husband Roy (Jason Lee) offers to pay for the wedding, Jimmy is determined to find a way to come up with the money so that Roy will not humiliate him. Paul is worried that his wife Debbie (Rashida Jones) is cheating on him, so he sets up a secret video camera in a teddy bear. While Jimmy is selling a 1952 Andy Pafko baseball card to pay for the wedding, he is mugged by Dave (Seann William Scott), who steals his card and Paul’s favorite gun. They find out that Dave is going to rob a house that night so they stake out the house to retrieve the card and gun. Jimmy and Paul arrest Dave and discover he has sold the card and gun for drugs.
Jimmy and Paul go to the dealer, Poh Boy (Guillermo Díaz), who tells them they may have the card if they retrieve a stolen car. When they find the car, they discover a distressed woman named Gabriela (Ana de la Reguera) in the trunk. Gabriela reveals that she is the mistress of a murdered drug lord who was kidnapped by Poh Boy’s gang. Jimmy previews the tape from Paul’s hidden camera and finds what looks to be Debbie and another man, but tells Paul there is nothing on it. Paul then sees the tape from his hidden camera and is heartbroken when he sees that Jimmy has lied: Debbie is with another man in their bedroom. Gabriela does not want to get Jimmy and Paul hurt, so she flees, leaving them a flashdrive concealed in a cross, which contains information about dealer’s contact numbers. Jimmy and Paul pay Dave’s bail so that he may retrieve the card and gun but he falls out of a tree and dies. Jimmy goes in to retrieve the card, but is surrounded by the gang. At the same time, Paul learns that Debbie is not cheating on him after all: she has played a trick on him for hiding the camera in their bedroom. After killing most of the gang, Jimmy and Paul find Poh Boy holding Gabriela at gunpoint. They shoot him dead, but Paul’s bullet goes through the head of the baseball player on Jimmy’s card, which is hidden in Poh Boy’s shirt pocket. Pleased with the duo’s investigation and assisting two colleagues (Adam Brody and Kevin Pollak) who were caught in the shootout, the precinct chief (Sean Cullen) restores Jimmy and Paul to active duty and gives them commendations.
Crestfallen at the destruction of his prized card, Jimmy lets Roy pay for the wedding. Pam asks a favor of Jimmy that he and Roy give away Ava together. Jimmy says nothing about it. Paul discreetly points his pistol at Roy and orders him to sit down at the moment the priest calls out the father who would give away Ava. A bonus scene during the closing credits reveals that Dave did not die in the fall when he pulls a prank on the coroner opening the body bag by doing one of his knock-knock jokes resulting in her fleeing in horror while Dave exits the body bag in laughter.
The film has a good pace from the start and is filled with comical situations, which at times are vulgar but generally funny. The gags are not new, however the way they’ve been presented makes you laugh. The screenplay is tight, making this run-of-the-mill feature into something thats better. The action sequences are exciting and the climax, although predictable is alright. Keep watching once the credits start rolling as there is a really funny scene in store.

12 DAYS OF CHRISTMAS REVIEW: BLACK XMAS (2006)

CAST
Katie Cassidy (Arrow)
Michelle Trachtenberg (Cop Out)
Mary Elizabeth Winstead (Death Proof)
Lacey Chabert (Mean Girls)
Kristen Cloke (Final Destination)
Andrea Martin (Wag The Dog)
Crystal Lowe (Poison Ivy 4)
Oliver Hudson (Scream Queens)
Leela Savasta (Stargate: Atlantis)
Alycia Purrott (Power Rangers SPD)
William Edward “Billy” Lenz, a boy born with severe jaundice due to a liver disease, is constantly abused by his hateful mother. After murdering Billy’s father and burying his body in the underground crawlspace with the help of her boyfriend, Mrs. Lenz locks Billy in the attic to prevent him from talking. Years later, she attempts to conceive a new baby but realizes that her new man is impotent. She goes up to the attic and rapes 12-year-old Billy. Nine months later, a daughter named Agnes is born and treated like a princess by Mrs. Lenz. When Agnes is eight and Christmas comes around, Billy escapes from the attic and disfigures Agnes by gouging out her eye and taunts his mother, saying “she’s my family now.” Billy then gruesomely kills his mother and her lover. He is caught by the police eating cookies made out of his mother’s flesh, and sent to a mental asylum.
15 years later, on Christmas Eve, Billy escapes from his cell and heads off to his former home, now a sorority house. At the Delta Alpha Kappa, Clair (Leela Savasta) is killed in her bedroom. Meanwhile, Megan (Jessica Harmon) begins to hear noises and goes up to the attic to investigate. Upon finding Clair’s body in a rocking chair, Megan is attacked and killed. In the living room, the other sorority girls receive a call from a rambling man, who ends the call threatening to kill them.
Clair’s half-sister Leigh (Kristen Cloke) soon arrives searching for her. When the lights suddenly go out, Dana (Lacey Chabert) goes to check the powers under the house, but encounters the figure and is killed with a gardening tool. The girls in the house receive a call from Dana, and hear a scream. They leave the house to find her, only for Kelli (Katie Cassidy) and Melissa (Michelle Trachtenberg) to discover blood splatters under the house, while Heather (Mary Elizabeth Winstead) and Leigh find Eve (Kathleen Kole) decapitated in her car.
Heather and housemother Mrs. Mac (Andrea Martin) immediately flee, but Heather is subsequently killed while inside the car, and Mrs. Mac is stabbed through the head by a falling icicle. When Kelli and Leigh descend to the garage to investigate, Melissa is attacked and killed. Kelli and Leigh then find find Lauren (Crystal Lowe) with her eyes gouged out in bed. Kelli’s boyfriend Kyle (Oliver Hudson) then arrives, claiming he is not the killer. The three climb to the attic, where Kyle is dragged and stabbed in the head. The killer is revealed to be Agnes, now an adult. Billy also makes his way into the attic and both killers close in on Kelli and Leigh, starting a fire. Kelli and Leigh manage to escape and leave Billy and Agnes to burn in the fire.
Later, Kelli and Leigh recover at the hospital. While Kelli goes for an X-ray, Agnes appears in the hospital unharmed and kills Leigh by snapping her neck. When Kelli returns to her room, Agnes enters through the ceiling and attacks her as well but Kelli uses the defibrillator and kills Agnes; however, Billy immediately enters also through the ceiling and chases after Kelli. They end up in the stair-rail, where Kelli ends up pushing Billy off the stair-rail where he is impaled on the tip of a Christmas tree, finally killing him, and Kelli is left to look in shock.
I have to say that the remake of this 70s slasher classic was better than i thought it would be, its a good horror to watch around Christmas.

REVIEW: SLEEPY HOLLOW – SEASON 1 & 2

Image result for SLEEPY HOLLOW LOGO

MAIN CAST

Tom Mison (One Day)
Nicole Beharie (American Violet)
Orlando Jones (Evolution)
Katia Winter (Arena)
Lyndie Greenwood (Nikita)
John Noble (Fringe)

RECURRING / NOTABLE GUEST CAST

John Cho (American Pie)
Clancy Brown (Highlander)
Nicholas Gonzalez (The Flash)
Monique Ganderton (Mutant X)
Carsten Norgaard (The Three Musketeers)
James Frain (Gotham)
Craig Parker (Reign)
Neil Jackson (Blade: The Series)
Erin Cahill (Power Rangers Time Force)
Jill Marie Jones (Ash Vs Evil Dead)
Laura Spencer (Bones)
Sakina Jaffrey (House of Cards)
Matt Barr (7 Below)
Zach Appelman (Beaut yand The Beast)
Cynthia Stevenson (Dead Like Me)
Aunjanue Ellis (The Help)
Michelle Trachtenberg (Buffy: The Vampire Slayer)
Jaime Murray (The Finder)
Steven Weber (Izombie)
Shelby Steel (Powers)

To say that I was skeptical about Sleepy Hollow as a series would be an understatement. After all, how could Ichabod Crane vs. the Headless Horseman get dragged out far enough to fill all those hours and remain watchable? But in the most delightful surprise of the fall season, Sleepy Hollow quickly proved to be more than up to the task. With a perfectly matched pair of leads, the show hit the ground running and never looked back.
From their first scene together Nicole Beharie and Tom Mison displayed an easy chemistry that only grew stronger as the weeks went by, aided immensely by sharp writing that understood these two were the most essential ingredient for Sleepy Hollow’s success. In the first half of the season the small supporting cast suffered in comparison, as it took time for characters like Jenny and Frank to be brought into the fold and have us get to know them. But by the finale all the time spent with Abbie and Ichabod paid off beautifully in scenes where the emotions ran deep without having to spell everything out to the audience. By the time they had to dive into Purgatory together and eventually part ways all the decisions they made were believable since they were character-based and not simply the writers forcing them in directions for the sake of the plot.
 This attention to character was particularly impressive, since the show trades in some wild plots: Headless Horseman, George Washington’s secret war, Crane’s witch wife in Purgatory, etc. The creative team behind Sleepy Hollow seems to have an instinctive understanding that if the audience doesn’t care about these people, it doesn’t matter how cool it might be to see the Horseman with an automatic weapon. That being said, it is really cool to see the Headless Horseman blazing away, and when he showed up it was always a show-stopper. The season also had more than its share of other great effects as well, whether it was whatever was happening to poor Andy (head knocked backwards, cocooned and turned into a slithery bald dude) or some of Moloch’s freaky, fast-moving minions.
With all of the insanity going on it would have been easy to fall into the trap of letting the humor undercut the stakes, but Sleepy Hollow’s very difficult tone was maintained throughout the season. Oddly enough for a show about a British Revolutionary War soldier who wakes up in 2013 and partners up with an overqualified police lieutenant to fight a war against evil, the key to maintaining that tone has been restraint. Nothing overstayed its welcome on Sleepy Hollow. The Headless Horseman was a remarkably intimidating physical presence who immediately gave a jolt to any episode he rode into – he’s an ace in the hole that could have become all too familiar very quickly. But aside from the brief time that our heroes imprisoned him we rarely got a glimpse of him. His absence, sometimes for weeks, made his appearances carry far more weight and dread than if we had gotten a weekly dose of him riding around the forest.
The same goes for the show’s keen sense of humor. The comedic opportunities presented by Crane waking up in the 21st century are a rich vein, one that they’ve managed to tap each week without being repetitive or overwhelming. Instead it came in bite-sized portions while informing the character – Mison’s bemused reactions from everything from OnStar agents to dry cleaning were wonderfully understated and telling as Ichabod became more accustomed to life in the modern age. By the end of the season he was complaining about his apps failing to load in the middle of the forest, which was both hysterical and showed how much he had changed.
This attention to detail when it comes to Abbie and Ichabod was marvelous, but it didn’t leave much room for anybody else. It took awhile, but Frank and Jenny were eventually brought up to speed with their troubled histories and joined the team. Unfortunately Katrina remained in limbo in every sense – Ichabod longed for her (it’s a credit to Mison that this was always believable) but she never registered as anything other than a plot device/exposition delivery system. And while the Horseman and Moloch were scary, larger-than-life enemies they couldn’t do much more than occasionally show up and threaten everybody. There were few real, flesh-and-blood villains here and when there were it was usually because somebody has been possessed or otherwise coerced. The Hessians were a potentially far-reaching group that could provide all kinds of problems for our heroes, but they were largely forgotten in the stretch run of the season- hopefully they’ll return next year. Happily, the last 15 minutes or so of the finale signaled a change in all this, as Katrina was freed ( and a fantastic bad guy was introduced… …or was unmasked, to be more accurate. John Noble dropped by enough for me to stop questioning what secrets he might have – he had simply become loveable Henry, always welcome and able to help our heroes out of a jam. So when he finally revealed himself to be Ichabod’s son Jeremy and the Second friggin’ Horseman, it landed like a thunderclap. It was the rarest of things in today’s television landscape: a well-earned plot twist. It also doesn’t hurt that Noble seems to be able to do anything.
In addition to Noble, the guest star MVPs were Clancy Brown and John Cho. While their characters couldn’t have been more different, both had parallels in their relationship to Abbie. Brown was wonderful in his role as Abbie’s mentor and every time he showed up, whether it was a flashback or archival footage or a dream, his loss was felt. His quick exit was both disappointing and perfect, since his absence leaves Abbie without a safety net, personally and professionally. And Andy was the polar opposite: a weak-willed servant of Moloch who never stopped pining for her.

Of course it all comes down to Abbie and Ichabod in the end. Their relationship was so carefully constructed by the writers and actors over the course of the year that by the end they were able to have whole conversations with just a couple of looks. This can be one of the craziest shows on TV and it’s such a blast when it is, and yet when I look back on the season as a whole I keep coming back to their quiet scenes in the cabin, teasing each other about plastic or finding hidden messages from George Washington. All of this has added up to a thoroughly entertaining show which is, after all, the whole point. Sleepy Hollow’s freshman season set the bar high with the expected scares, unexpected humor, and impressive lead performances. And a Headless Horseman wielding automatic weapons, which is always nice.
Making the balance between humor, horror and action look easy, season 1 of Sleepy Hollow set the bar high. An expanded season 2 (jumping to 18 episodes from 13) more than met that standard in the first half, throttling though the high-stakes plot of Moloch trying to escape Purgatory and the Witnesses gaining more allies. And while the series struggled to find itself after that story came to end—likely due to the network-mandated order to become less serialized—the show always remained worthwhile and very enjoyable due to the solid characters and relationships that had been established.
 This season felt inspired from the start, with the terrific premiere episode “This is War” displaying sly storytelling as Abbie and Ichabod struggled to escape Purgatory. The later introduction of Benjamin Franklin (in flashbacks), more revelations about the Mills family history and the remarkable episodes leading up to the midseason finale all made for a rollicking first half. Despite meandering with the back half standalone episodes, the finale more than made up for any aimlessness by giving us what we watch for in the first place: Abbie and Ichabod, BFFs.
With Abbie and Ichabod already firmly entrenched as partners in the war against evil, the show was able to widen its focus to other characters. The best results were with Jenny, who became better-rounded and an integral part of the team. But Abraham/Headless benefitted from more attention as well, as we got to know his motivations. Even the risky addition of Hawley paid off better than expected, and by the time he got his send-off episode his connection to Jenny and the Witnesses felt earned and real. Irving also wound up being a bit shortchanged, as the show had written him into the corner of the psych ward for murdering cops. When he was tricked into signing over his soul to Henry it looked like a rich storyline in the making but nothing much ever came of it and everything involving him seemed made up on the fly, almost as an afterthought (for instance, the cloudy reason behind him being released but not exonerated—I’ll admit I glided past that as a viewer, but the more you pay attention to his story over the season, the shakier it gets). Despite this I was glad to see him get some terrific moments, both big and small—his sacrifice (which wound up being temporary) in the midseason finale and his intimate scenes with Jenny towards the end.
 John Noble continued to be a tremendous presence whenever he appeared. The reveal at the end of season 1 that he was the Crane’s son gave him plenty to dig into this year and Noble made Henry’s bitterness and hurt come through with intensity. Once he dispatched Moloch, though, the show didn’t seem to know what to do with him and his death wound up being pretty anticlimactic, even it did serve to set off the season endgame for the marvelous “Tempus Fugit”. More problematic was the character of Katrina. She simply never worked. Not as a damsel in distress, not as the third wheel and not as an abruptly-turned villain. It certainly wasn’t for lack of trying, as the writers tried to integrate her into Team Witness several times with lukewarm results. I didn’t buy her sudden shift from ally to enemy, but it was a quick and painless way to give her character a good exit in service of the story. The trouble was that Beharie and Mison had established such rare buddy chemistry that Ichabod finally getting his lost love out of Purgatory threw a wrench into it. Even at her best, as in “Pittura Infamante”, it wasn’t enough to match any given scene between Abbie and Ichabod. That pretty much left the show with few options; either relegate her to the sidelines or kill her off.
But the biggest stumbling block this season came down from on high: FOX wanted to series to become less serialized, and Sleepy Hollow tried hard to accommodate the order. The result was an awkward stop-and-start second half, with several scenes of Abbie and Ichabod wondering out loud what their purpose was now that Moloch had been defeated. I had no problem with the death of Moloch, since he wasn’t much of a bad guy, but the absence of a Big Bad was immediately felt. Knowing full well that this might have been it for the series, the show rallied and came up with a very satisfying ending that conclusively wrapped up loose ends while leaving the door wide open for a possible return. Sleepy Hollow’s best hours have been the ones dealing with ongoing stories while the self-contained episodes were much more hit-and-miss, but this is a creative team that’s proven it knows how to put together a great show I’m hopeful that they get a chance to find that balance because when this series is in a groove it’s a joy to watch. Despite any problems Sleepy Hollow ran into, though, Nicole Beharie and Tom Mison were the rocks at the center the show. Their extraordinary chemistry has been the single greatest asset of an awfully good series from the start, able to shift gracefully from easygoing humor to partners in lockstep to dear friends dealing with life and death stakes in a single hour. They’re a microcosm of the show itself, one that at its best could deliver laughs and thrills side by side with terrific characters we cared about throughout.
Despite difficulty adjusting to less-serialized storytelling in the back half, season 2 of Sleepy Hollow started and ended strong enough to measure up well with its stellar first year.