Get ready for a whole lot of decapitation wordplay: Fox's Sleepy Hollow premiered last night and hit the pilot ratings jackpot. You might even say it beheaded the competition. OK, we're done.
The premiere raked in 10 million viewers for its first night on the air, with a 3.4 rating in adults aged 18-49. This was an improvement over its lead-in, past-prime crime procedural Bones, which saw a slight dip from last season with a 2.2 rating.
Sleepy Hollow tells the story Ichabod Crane — gonna assume his friends call him Ichy for short — who was sent by George Washington (ol' Wooden Teeth himself) to chop the head off the man who would become known as the Headless Horseman.
He does just that, and somehow they both end up transported from 1781 to 2013 Sleepy Hollow, New York. The Headless Horseman's still feeling a little homicidal over that whole beheading thing, though, and Ichy's recruited by the local sheriff to help out. Said sheriff (the awesome Nicole Beharie) is black, and a woman, and there are a lot of Starbucks around, so Ichy's got some 1781 assumptions to get over to really make it in his new environment.
Sleepy Hollow surprised TV critics by being much less stupid and hokey than anticipated, actually veering more towards charming in its own ridiculous way — The A.V. Club's Zack Handlen has a great review of the pilot in which he likens the experience to talking to a crazy (or just boring) person at a party but coming away from it alarmingly charmed.
It seems to have had the same effect on the audience at home, too, as the show's premiere ratings probably mean that it's at least not doomed for immediate cancellation by the network.
As Entertainment Weekly points out, this is also en era in which the hard numbers on who watched a show the night-of are vastly inaccurate when talking about how many people are actually watching a show — DVR, Hulu, you've heard the spiel before. Technology! Premiere numbers and the amount of people advertisers like to pretend are watching their ads live still matter, though, so this is still good news for Sleepy Hollow — and its presumably un-sleepy future.
Maybe next we'll just be watching a show about torsos.