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Washington Irving: He's Back. He's Pumped. And He's Pissed...
September 29, 2013  | By Noel Holston  | 2 comments

"Washington Irving: He’s back. He’s pumped. And he's pissed."

This is the nutshell version of the pitch I am currently preparing This is the nutshell version of the pitch I am currently preparing for the Fox network programming executives for a series I’m thinking of calling Irving the Avenger, or perhaps simply Ving. I’m giving the Fox folks first refusal rights because, hey, if not for an earlier program decision of theirs – the green-lighting of the new fall series Sleepy Hollow – I wouldn’t have dreamed up this sure-fire hit.

Sleepy Hollow, as you may have seen and/or read, is a new fantasy-horror-action potboiler “inspired” by an 1820 Washington Irving story. Irving imagined a frightful run-in that Ichabod Crane, a scrawny, superstitious school master, has on a dark night in rural upstate New York with a “headless” horseman, an ax-wielding bogey man who may or may not have actually been a beefy town rowdy named Bram who had designs on the same pretty young lady that poor Ich did.

In Fox’s re-imagined Sleepy Hollow, Ichabod awakens from suspended animation 250 years after the story of origin was set. Not only is he not a study in atrophy after so much time underground, he’s a handsome hunk. Nor is he a school master. He’s a British soldier who defected to the rebel cause in America and became an aide to Gen. George Washington, who confides that the revolutionary war in progress is not just for colonial independence but an epic battle to stop the infamous Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse, of which ye olde headless horseman is but the first to arrive.         

You with me on this? Good. My idea is that Washington Irving, who died in 1859, rises from the his grave in the real, present-day Sleepy Hollow, a village within the town of Mount Pleasant, N.Y., with a single-minded mission: to avenge the ripoff and reconfiguring of not only The Legend of Sleepy Hollow, but also the plot of his other best known story, Rip Van Winkle, about a man who wakes from a long, long sleep to find the world around him greatly changed.

Irving has rested in peace for all these years, aware that his stories have been the inspiration for many a film, both live-action and animated, and happy with all of them, especially the TV-movie of Sleepy Hollow with Jeff Goldblum as Ichabod. But the Fox series’ heedless liberties override his famously sweet temperament. He cannot abide the acts of wanton injustice and grand theft royalty.  He swears an oath to destroy everyone connected with the Fox series using a deadly, double-bladed agrarian tool that he slyly dubs his knickerbocker – though he concedes, in the opening episode, that some patroons call it a sling blade.

He sets out for the West Coast via a branch of the Underground Railway once used by runaway slaves, there to start methodically whacking the “creators” of Fox’s Sleepy Hollow paste-job: Philip Iscove, Alex Kurtzman, Roberto Orci, Len Wiseman. By the time he’s dispatched each of them – around episode four – and started to track down the cast members, he’s a cable news sensation and Variety has christened him “Ripper Van Winkle.”

In a canny public-relations move, he phones www.tvworthwatching.com editor David Bianculli and gives him an exclusive interview, insisting that the “Hollywood hustlers who stole and bastardized” his personal favorite yarns are “nothing less than vampires” and richly deserve their fates.

Soon, the Irving character will have made the transition in the public mind from serial killer to conflicted antihero in the manner of Dexter, Tony Soprano and Walter White. He’ll have a Twitter following and bloggers ruminating on his every move.

This can work, I guarantee. And for the second season, we can bring in a partner: a resurrected Abe Lincoln. He killed vampires, too, you know. You can look it up.

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I’m not that much of a online reader to be honest but your blogs really nice, keep it up!
I'll go ahead and bookmark your website to come back later

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Jan 21, 2023   |  Reply
Fun column. I thought the f/x in the opener were so good they kind of offset the dumbness, but it'd been downhill since. Too much talk and not enough beheading.
Oct 1, 2013   |  Reply
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