Imagine stirring from a long sleep, though for you no time has passed at all, and realizing you are in another time period. The world has changed since the Revolution, although not for Ichabod Crane. He struggles to modernize his outdated philosophies while reconciling himself to the fact that he is one of two Witnesses that stand between humanity and the Apocalypse.

It sounds like an insane premise and in many ways it is, but it’s also engaging speculative fiction. This is a relatively new concept: the idea of revitalizing historical events with fantastical or supernatural themes. This series is a true blend of everything an audience can imagine; costume drama infused with paganism, magic, and Christianity. It deals with medieval witches, the Headless Horseman (who is one of the Riders of the Apocalypse), the concept of Purgatory, characters and creatures that step through time, and family dynamics, both in Ichabod’s relationship with his wife and son and in his fellow Witness, Abby Mill’s relationship with her sister.

It is, frankly, historical fiction on crack… and I love it. I tune in each week for the latest monster, the latest shocker, the latest plot twist. I watch it for Ichabod’s old world charm and frequent complaints over modern society. “We must make haste!” he says, shortly before proclaiming the sorry state of the modern era, and the Italians, in charging an exorbitant amount of money for a very small cup of coffee, topped with cream whipped within an inch of his life. He is similarly disinclined to change his “attire,” and thus runs about stealing heads, defeating and raising monsters to fight the Horseman, musing endlessly on his relationships with Jefferson (a genius), Franklin (too full of himself), and other founding fathers, in a full 18th century outfit, topped with a sword and boots.

Half the fun is his encounter with modern conveniences, such as credit cards (he loudly lectures the banker on the perils of reckless spending and a life of extravagance), cell phones (modern nuisances), television (full of perversion), and “horseless carriages” (he is utterly fascinated by the ability to roll up and down a window. The other half of the fun is his musings on the past, ranging from romantic sentiments for his wife, who soon enters the story but is trapped in another dimension, to scoffing at the modern interpretation of historic events. The show sets out to cheekily rewrite history, which might ruffle more serious features. (Poor Benedict Arnold, after all, could not help betraying the cause… for he set his hands upon the thirty cursed pieces of silver Judas was paid for betraying Christ.)

Granted, I do not like all of it. Its depiction of Franklin is not flattering (though admittedly, subjective… seen through the eyes of Ichabod, who preferred Jefferson), and on occasion overt political jabs turn up in the script. Christians might also balk at its pagan elements, which range from Katrina’s magical skills, to mixing Christian mythology (the Book of Revelation) with all kinds of creatures, myths, and even fairy tales (such as the Pied Piper). It is nothing if not clever, and often tongue in cheek, but also has deeper emotional significance. Each plot thread delicately entwines as it explores themes of family, sacrifice, and honor.

If Ichabod is the cynical, old-fashioned dashing hero, then Abbie Mills is his modern-day practical counterpoint. Unlike Ichabod, who saw supernatural events during the Revolution, she is a skeptic of such things. Her childhood was tragic; she and her sister were “taken” into the wood. She denied what she saw there… an ancient demon known as “Moloch,” from the 17th century poem, Paradise Lost. Moloch becomes a major antagonist in the first season, as he tries to bring forth the beginnings of the Apocalypse.

It’s fun and frightening, chilling and touching, shocking and amusing. It explores the theme of good and evil, offering new viewpoints on those involved and proposing changes to the history we take for granted. It is not deep theologically, instead combining different legends, faiths, and ideas, but its hero is (so far, and hopefully, will stay) virtuous… something not often found in modern television. It tends toward predictability in the sense that it deals with a “monster of the week” format, but it entertains nonetheless.

History majors (and even casual history buffs) will have fun noticing all the historical references and seeing some old legends come to life; including discovering what happened to the lost colony of Roanoke.

Some will be scandalized at this highly interpretative version of Biblical (in the loosest sense of the word) events; if the thought of melding religious theology into pagan legend troubles you, it’s best to stay away… but for the rest of us, Sleepy Hollow is just plain fun.