There's a gut-level excitement, unique to television, when you watch the right actor play the right character and turn into a star. Think of Hugh Laurie on House, or Kerry Washington onScandal, or Peter Dinklage on Game of Thrones. When the producers cast a relative unknown in a lead role, there’s a roulette-wheel thrill. They hope they're getting lucky.
The producers of Sleepy Hollow got very lucky. When the supernatural Fox drama debuted in the fall, all anybody knew about it was the premise, so goofy it sounded like a joke that 30 Rock would’ve made: Washington Irving’s ''Legend of Sleepy Hollow,'' with a Brit-cute Ichabod Crane and the Headless Horseman carrying an assault rifle.
It should’ve been stupid. It certainly was silly. And it worked because Sleepy Hollow went all in on two unknowns. As Crane, Tom Mison is a constant revelation. As a man imported into our time from the American Revolution, Mison always plays the show’s stranger-in-a-strange-land humor at just the right pitch. Jokes about answering machines and skinny jeans shouldn’t work, but Mison makes them sing. His Crane isn’t freaked out by the future: He’s mildly amused about, really, as if our post-industrial post-digital future were a spot of bad weather.