Everything old is new again this year, at least on television. First, Bates Motel and Hannibal revitalized the decades-old characters of Psycho's Norman Bates and Hannibal Lecter. Then, Fox launched a modern adaptation of Washington Irving's 1820 short story "The Legend of Sleepy Hollow."
Sleepy Hollow depicts the story's hero – Ichabod Crane – as he teams with the present-day police of Sleepy Hollow, New York to solve the mysterious case of a Headless Horseman running loose and committing murders. While a striking departure from the source material, Sleepy Hollow was one of Fox's most high-profile shows of the new season, and it looks like the network is pleased with the results.
Fox has officially renewed Sleepy Hollow, making it the first new series this fall to earn a second season. The series debuted with a 3.4 rating among adults 18 to 49 and has remained relatively consistent within that key demographic. Furthermore, 13.6 million viewers watched the premiere episode either live or on DVR within the first 3 days of its airing. Those numbers make Sleepy Hollow the strongest fall drama to premiere on Fox since 24 hit the airwaves in 2001.
Despite its ratings success and solid viewership, Sleepy Hollow's early renewal is a somewhat surprising move. The show's initial order was for a 13-episode run, and networks traditionally extend such shorter seasons to a full 22 episodes once they realize a series is a hit. However, Fox appears to be shifting their strategy for its younger series and adopting a narrative structure more akin to cable network shows like The Walking Dead and Sons of Anarchy.
Earlier this year, the network employed a similar technique when it renewed The Following for a truncated season 2. That show debuted in January and had a successful 15-episode run, but instead of starting the second season in the fall with a full 20+ episodes, Fox plans to bring the Kevin Bacon led drama back to the air in January for another 15 episodes.
While this could indeed be a fluke, it could also mean that the "Big Four" networks are beginning to embrace more serialized storytelling over fewer episodes. After all, it has worked for shows like Breaking Bad in the past, allowing the creators to focus on a tighter approach to telling the story at hand while building buzz in the process. Plus, it allows the networks to give other shows a chance at attracting an audience in the meantime.
In any case, we'll see what Fox has in store for Sleepy Hollow when the show returns – along with co-creators Alex Kurtzman and Roberto Orci and executive producer Mark Goffman – next year. With its cop-centric perspective and deadly forces roaming the streets, Sleepy Hollow would certainly make the perfect companion piece with the network's just-announced Gotham series.
Are you looking forward to season 2 of Sleepy Hollow? What do you think of the prospect of shorter television seasons going forward?
Sleepy Hollow airs Mondays @9pm on Fox.