1999 was really a banner year for us Sleepy Hollow fans - the best since 1979, and the three versions launched in 1999 were much better, overall, than the three from 1979. We had the Tim Burton movie, the Odyssey made-for-TV version, and, bringing up the rear, this made-for-TV Halloween special featuring the voices of William H. Macy, Luke Perry, Tia Carrera, and Mark Hamill.
The computer-animation here was not exactly cutting edge, even in 1999, and really just looks like a video game. It's hard to watch for a full hour, and the over-the-top performances of the voice actors just don't match up to the animated faces, which couldn't really capture much subtlety or nuance. Indeed, it's little better than watching a puppet show.
But beneath it all is a pretty good script - a fairly faithful adaption that plays up Ichabod as a comic buffoon and makes a lot of use of the other legends and folklore of Sleepy Hollow. There are some good visuals (though many borrow shamelessly from the Disney version, which isn't such a bad source from which to borrow). There's definitely a really good movie in here someplace. The script could have used one good punch-up and the visual, well....surely there was a better way to do this, right?
It's difficult to watch it without trying to guess what could have been done to make it better. The over-the-top performances would have looked fairly ridiculous in a live action drama (actually, it would have probably come off a lot like the adaptation in Once Upon a Midnight Scary). As my recent viewing went on, I found myself thinking that it sounded like a dynamite radio show.
Let's imagine that someone in 1930 had invented a device that automatically generated animated pictures to go along with a radio show. It didn't work for very many shows, so people continued listening to the radio as much as ever, but now and then there'd be a show that included pictures, as well. The pictures weren't perfect, but it was all neat to see. This is sort of an example of the pictures that would have been generated to go along with an excellent radio adaptation of Legend of Sleepy Hollow. I like it a bit better now than I did in 1999.
Bizarre, but fun. A VHS version was released, and hulu was streaming it last year.