Washington Irving’s character of Ichabod Crane may receive little respect from Hollywood, but the same cannot be of the author’s other famous creation. Well, perhaps it can; respect is a funny thing. Stephen King definitely does not respect at least one of the godchildren of the Headless Horseman. Frankly, I’m okay with it. In fact, I’m okay with most of these examples of the Headless Horseman in TV history…whether they are riding a horse or not.
Kolchak the Night Stalker
Here’s the Headless Horseman that Stephen King doesn’t like. He’s the star attraction of the episode titled “Chopper” which is also the slang term for his modern means of conveyance in place of the horse. “Chopper” finds Kolchak putting his considerable investigative journalism skills to the task of tracking down the headless guy riding around on a motorcycle and chopping off heads with a sword. That description certainly fits why Stephen King finds it cheesy–along with the less than convincing special effects of the headless chopper riding chopper of heads. But, frankly, it’s far from the worst episode of “Kolchak.”
One of the more surprising facts of TV history is that “The Simpsons” has never done a parody of “The Legend of the Sleepy Hollow” for one of its “Treehouse of Horror” Halloween episodes. The closest it has come up to 2013 is the brief appearance of Krusty the Klown in the role of the Headless Horseman in the opening segment of “Treehouse of Horror VI.”
Little House on the Prairie
“The Monster of Walnut Grove.” This was a family-friendly Western based on the series of books that told the real lifes story of Laura Ingalls Wilder. So how could there possibly be a headless horseman involved on this show? It’s a Halloween episode and manages to combine humor and horror surprisingly effectively. To give away the answer to how such a show grounded in reality could introduce a version of the Sleepy Hollow’s Headless Horseman would be to deny one of the many pleasures of this sadly overlooked episode always ripe as an October pumpkin for Halloween enjoyment.
Are You Afraid of the Dark?
This Nickelodeon show perhaps did what those in charge of feature films, TV-movies and prime-time programming seem incapable of doing Making something out of “The Legend of Sleepy Hollow” actually worth watching without utterly destroying the original content. Because studio executives are genetically incapable of seeing a schoolteacher as the lead character in a story that isn’t a mawkish example of how to make a Very Special Episode into a feature-length film, they know what to do with Ichabod Crane. “Are You Afraid of the Dark” deals with his problem by creating what might be termed a sequel of sorts to the original story that deals with an Ichabod Crane in a form that even studio executives could find a way to make interesting: as the ghostly return of the long-dead Crane to modern times. The Headless Horseman is also poised for a return to form, making, oddly enough, “The Tale of the Midnight Ride” episode of “Are You Afraid of the Dark” one of the few cinematic adaptations that gives Ichabod Crane the respect he deserves while also providing a memorable Headless Horseman.