TV catch-up: ‘Sleepy Hollow,’ ‘The Walking Dead,’ ‘SHIELD’ and more

sleepy hollow headless horseman

The highlights of my TV viewing year are the limited runs of “Mad Men” on AMC, “Justified” on FX and “The Walking Dead” on AMC. That’s not to say there aren’t other shows that I’m hooked on.

But they always take a backseat to those three.

This fall, there’s a surprisingly high number of shows that have rapidly become must-see (to coin a phrase) viewing. This doesn’t count “Parks and Recreation,” for example, a charmingly daft sitcom that just keeps chugging along.

Here’s a roundup of what I’m digging right now:

“Sleepy Hollow” – This fantasy adventure series, which has become something of a hit, is one of the greatest pleasures on TV right now. If you haven’t watched the first half of this 13-episode season, go catch up, online or on demand, right now. I’ll wait.

Okay, back? The story of the return of Revolutionary War soldier and spy Ichabod Crane, reborn in modern times more than 200 years after he and the (now) Headless Horseman fought it out on a New York battlefield, is terrific fun. Crane is teamed with a young female cop as they investigate the rebirth of the Horseman, who turns out to be one of the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse from the Book of Revelations. 

The show has something for everyone: Fish out of water comedy and commentary, monster of the week, creepy thrills, fun special effects and great chemistry among the cast members.

Tonight’s episode found the 21st century characters explaining to Crane the secret relationship between Thomas Jefferson – one of his contemporaries and heroes – and Sally Hemmings, all the while preparing a snare to trap the Headless Horseman with ultraviolet light. You don’t have to ask. Just go with it.

“The Walking Dead” – I was relieved to see the Governor show up at the end of last night’s episode. I was feeling a little claustrophobic with the flu storyline that’s dominated this season so far. I do love the beefed up roles for many in the cast, including Carol. Was anyone else as surprised as I was about Carol’s exile?

“Agents of SHIELD” – I was looking forward to this Marvel spin-off more than any other series this fall, and I’m not alone in my disappointment at the resulting show. Each episode is an improvement on the last, for the most part, but I can’t be the only one that’s impatient with the character development and over-arching plot. I’m still watching, however.

“The Blacklist” – God help me, but I’m enjoying this series more than “SHIELD.” “The Blacklist,” about a mysterious criminal (James Spader) who comes in from the cold to help the FBI catch other criminals, isn’t quite as looney as “Sleepy Hollow,” but almost. Spader is the main reason to watch as he gives a master class in unsettling but entertaining villainy.  I can’t wait to see him as the bad guy in “The Avengers: The Age of Ultron.”

“The Mindy Project” – As fun and kooky as “Parks and Recreation” is, there’s not a more clever sitcom on TV right now than “The Mindy Project,” with Mindy Kaling as a neurotic doc surrounded by neurotic docs in NYC. The second season of the show is even better than the first.

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