Much of the inspiration for the FOX network's new show "Sleepy Hollow," a modern-day police drama twist on the classic short story by Washington Irving, was drawn from the Bible, specifically the Book of Revelation and end times, the show's producers said in a recent interview.
Roberto Orci and Alex Kurtzman, executive producers of "Sleepy Hollow," said in a recent interview that they took the plot of the original "Sleepy Hollow" short story and added biblical themes to create their drama adaptation for the FOX network.
The original "Legend of Sleepy Hollow" was written by American writer Washington Irving in 1820 and follows the protagonist Ichabod Crane, a Connecticut school master who is seeking the hand of Katrina Van Tassel, the daughter of a wealthy farmer in rural New York, in marriage. Crane, who is in competition with Abraham Van Brunt for Van Tassel's hand, is eventually scared out of town by a headless horseman ghost riding in the night.
The "Sleepy Hollow" drama, premiering Monday evening on Fox, takes the character Crane and places him in the present day Sleepy Hollow, a suburb of Westchester County, New York, where he meets town sheriff Abbie Mills. After Crane tells Mills of his past life 250 years ago, the two strike a friendship, working together to find the modern day headless horseman haunting the small town.
As Orci and Kurtzman told TV Guide in a recent interview, the Headless Horseman is one of the Four Horseman of the Apocalypse, and therefore Mills and Crane are working to both save the small town of Sleepy Hollow as well as all of mankind. The producers told TV Guide that their idea to use Four Horsemen characters originated from the Bible, specifically the Book of Revelation that tells about the apocalypse and the arrival of Four Horsemen.
"I think we gravitated toward the Bible as being really relevant to our storytelling once it became about the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse," Kurtzman told TV Guide in a recent interview.
Orci goes on to say that the producers and writers of the show created several characters in "Sleepy Hollow," who are modeled after characters in the bible, but they are not trying to literally re-tell the bible through their new drama.
"There are a lot of details from the Bible, but we're not trying to do the Bible literally. But the Bible in a more general sense as a marker for American history; we're being inspired by American history and the legends of our cultures. The Bible is the starting point, but we want to visit various cultures' interpretations of religion and posit the idea of any bible in any culture is, in a way, a description and an impressionistic interpretation of the one true world religion that we must all be somehow apart of," Orci said.
Kurtzman went on to say that the bible's many stories about the human condition serve as an "endless well" when writing a drama.
"Everyone has different interpretations of the Bible and what it means. Ultimately, whether you believe the stories literally or you think they're allegory or metaphor, they are about how we live our lives and they are a search of meaning of why we're here on the planet and what our purpose is as a species. Each story raises a question about how we live our lives, so in that sense, it's the best and the first drama. It really is. It's an endless well that we can draw from," Kurtzman said.
Washington Irving's original "Sleepy Hollow" short story serves as one of the most memorable, and spooky, Halloween tales to date, with adaptations in film, television, and pop culture. After viewing a sneak peak of tonight's premiere episode, critics have contended that this rendition of the classic "Sleepy Hollow" tale is perhaps the most ghoulish and suspenseful yet.
"Clues from the past enlighten mysteries in the present, as each episode features a flashback to Ichabod's life in 1776," the show's official description reads on the FOX network website. "Ripe with untold stories from American history and cloaked in mythology, the divide between present and past becomes dangerously blurred."
The show premieres tonight on FOX at 9 p.m. ET.