Episode 77 – Sleepy Hollow

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This week, the Chainsawsuit podcast invites you to join us in a Halloween retelling of The Legend of Sleepy Hollow as you’ve never heard it before — with special guest Molly Lewis.

To say more would be to give too much away. Put on your headphones, close your eyes, and cover your neck.

If you enjoyed the show, check out our Patreon where you can help us continue to make great content like this!

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46 Responses to Episode 77 – Sleepy Hollow

  1. MikeyNeumann says:

    Hi, it's the ghost of Mikey Neumann from the chainsawsuit podcast.

    Ask me anything about this POTENT JAM.

    • Giggleloop says:

      There were a lot of cars being started while Ichabod was examining Vaughn von Whatshisname. It must have been rush hour in Sleepy Hollow? Another one of those classic Washington Irving anachronisms?

      Brom was very dudical. How could the Horseman's blade penetrate those iron abs?

      (This was the best. Molly did a wonderful job, as of course so did both you and Kris. Here's to a new holiday tradition!)

    • Chloister says:

      …I come to you guys for laughter, not for FEELINGS. My question is: How dare you? *tears and snot runs down face*

      Second question! Did you compose the ending music? I really liked it.

    • Nick Clinkscales says:

      As good as the normal podcast and video things are it seems like you guys really nail more narrative stuff, are you planning on doing more of that or only on special occasions like this?

    • ironphan says:

      Have you ever considering giving this kind of treatment to your own writing endeavors?

      Because I feel like I need that in my life.

      I'll bet there'd be considerable demand for performance-audiobook versions of your books. Especially with this audience.

      • giggleloop says:

        I'm inclined to agree. But I also like Mikey to be, you know, alive. A full blown audiobook performance might be just too much. Although who knows. If that Patreon kicks up several notches, a world of possibilities could present itself. *winkwink*

  2. Steve Jolly says:

    Damnit guys! I listen to these things at work, you can't keep making me cry like this! People are starting to talk…

    But anyways, amazing episode :)

  3. @ekpark says:

    "Multi-cobbler" caught me off guard. Love it.

  4. Ford Dent says:

    Holy balls, this was incredible. Well done everyone, you kicked me right in the face with FEELINGS at the end there. Great music, good jokes, surprisingly emotional moments–I mean holy shit people, y'all done knocked it out of the park.

  5. Tazsul says:

    Wow. That was awesome, in that it evoked awe in me.
    Well done. Bravo.

  6. ThomasG says:

    Bravo! This was masterful. I'm glad Mikey did the adaptation. Molly made a strong contribution here. Everything came off as very cinematic. I'm sure it took a lot of work adding the sound effects and coordinating the cast but it was well worth it.

  7. Nathanael says:

    I love the use of descriptions like "Intensely dark". Can dark be intense, I always thought there was a finite amount of dark?

    wp guys, loved it.

  8. drummosquito says:

    There's nothing quite like the feeling of crying uncontrollably to something that you're dimly convinced is supposed to be a joke, or a parody of a particular kind of moment in movies, but being completely unable to stop crying anyway.

    • MikeyNeumann says:

      It wasn't created as a joke or to mock anyone. I liked the idea — and we were mocking this — of a character like House or Sherlock, arrogant narcissists, learn the — this part not a joke — importance of friendship and humility. Ichabod learns it to such a degree, that he accepts his fate and is comforted that he realized the value of his friends before he left.

      • drummosquito says:

        It was very well done! I suppose I assumed it was meant to be somehow tongue in cheek because the rest of the episode was so funny and self-conscious in its humor, that the shift caught me off guard. But even when I was *thinking* it was tongue in cheek, it made me cry, which speaks to just how darn good it was:)

        EDIT: Also it's like an hour after I posted that first comment and I'm still kind of teary, geez.

      • The whole time during that ending I kept waiting for the jokey twist where it would be revealed that a hurled hollowed out pumpkin doesn't have the mass/force to kill someone and that it just burst relatively harmlessly against Ichabod's head and I listened to dead air on my phone for straight up two minutes before I checked to see that, indeed, the podcast had ended :'( I can't even.

  9. Robopengy says:

    I really liked this! Much more than I liked a Christmas Carol, though I think that speaks more to how good this was. Anytime I felt it was getting a little too serious, you cut in just the right amount of humor (the part with the horseman writing OK, specifically). But man oh man that whole monologue on being friends was so out of place and slowed down the action to barely a crawl. Now I'm not opposed to Brom and Ichabod learning a lesson. I actually thought what you did to Brom was one of the best things in the whole show. The very best thing was the music that accompanied the Headless Horseman. Where oh where can we find it? Anyway, this was fantastic and I hope you guys do more like this in the future!

    • Robopengy says:

      I forgot to mention how funny I found the "iron ____" joke. Having marathoned the GoT books recently, that joke really hit it home. But don't forget adding the word "blood" also adds a touch of fantasy to whatever you're writing about! Fruit, buildings, landmasses, it doesn't matter!

  10. LMcCJ says:

    Whoa, this was brilliant. You have to perform this live because it isn't fair to you that the only feedback you get is what we can express in Comments–we are inadequate to the task.

    Thanks Sam, Molly and Exec Producers!

  11. Kyle_Douglas says:

    Oh boy, here we go. It's the longest comment essay ever. In fact, it's so long the system is politely chastising me with "your comment is a little too long, try splitting it into multiple comments."

    Actually, it's only the longest if you choose it is. Comments thus far are nearly universally positive. I'm glad they are, since glancing at Mikey's Twitter feed I see messages like: “Seriously. Listen to the podcast. I spent way too much time on it and I love it with my heart parts.”, “All the heart. All of all heart was put into it.”, and “The sound design in this single episode is more complicated than all 76 preceding episodes combined. No, I’m not kidding.”

    So let me start by saying it shows. With the exception of the smaller cast, this is definitely on the production level of any radio play out there. I'll also specifically note that I personally really like the voice manipulation being on a more limited scale than some previous chainsawsuit productions. The performances are nearly flawless despite it being done in (I presume) basically one take.

    Most the anachronism jokes work well and I particularly liked the “iron” running gag. My favorite moments were the more understated “try again, child?” in response to the failed fainting, “I guess I'll get murde–*slice*”, and “okay, I ain't linkin' it no more.”

    Alright, that concludes the Positive Paul section of this comment. What follows transitions into Cantankerous Kyle. It may be reading too much into too little. It may be being too difficult to please. It may be impassioned and undeserved arrogance. It may be Kyle Ichabod Douglas shouting “I will lambaste what I please!” while throwing books into a fire. If that comment essay doesn't sound like something you want to read then stop now and don't follow me into these woods. But, the woods are the only place I can see a clear path.
    #FireflyReference

    • Kyle_Douglas says:

      Last night I listened to the episode. I wrote this comment but didn't post it, because I was worried I might just be in a sour mood or something (and because it's massive – best to let others get in before eating up a ton of screen space). Tonight I read through the original Sleepy Hollow story, which I'm unsure if I ever have before despite seeing numerous adaptations. Then, I listened to the episode again. Having the context of the original story did change my opinions slightly and the context of them, but my core feelings on the episode remained the same.

      I was going to complain about making such a major change from Ichabod being an occult enthusiast into a major skeptic, but a quick Google search reveals that change stems from the same school play versions of Sleepy Hollow that add the widow and her daughter as characters. Weird.

      Let me preface the following with an acknowledgment of subjectivity. This episode is reminiscent of A Knight's Tale. It's an adventure with a historical context using anachronisms as a primary comedic device. I didn't hate A Knight's Tale (and there are some parts of it I really like), but it wasn't exactly fitting my tastes and I had major issues with the way it handled certain characters. I had similar issues with this episode.

      My major problem with it is Katrina and her co-op speech with Hilda. Perhaps I'm misreading the chainsawsuit audience based on the small sample set of people who leave comments, but I'd certainly imagine (and hope) that the vast majority of them already agree with that speech. Having such an extended and serious “taking to school” about it set against Ichabod's comically exaggerated arrogance feels mismatched and therefore as if the speech is intended solely for the audience. This then either comes off as “preaching to the choir” or simply a cathartic outpouring if, as I believe, the chainsawsuit audience is already in agreement with such a position. Ichabod and Brom's near-immediate acceptance of Katrina's position further reinforces the idea that any other position is comically wrong.

      There's not necessarily anything wrong with having a moment of catharsis, but in this specific case it really rubs me the wrong way since it's basically Katrina's only moment of focus in the episode. In this fashion Katrina's been transformed from a MacGuffin in the original story into a mouthpiece in this version… which is still an upgrade, I suppose. Having her sole purpose to be to give a speech about not pigeonholing her into a certain role is a pigeonhole in itself. It's the same kind of frustrating irony I've heard from black actors and actresses who find the only acting roles they can consistently get are ones designed to illustrate racism is bad.

      Following on from this, the last scene (which, like drummosquito, I wondered if was referencing something specific that I missed), is genuinely emotionally affecting due to strength of performance and fitting music. But it still feels a bit like that moment hasn't been earned due to the silliness injected into the story throughout and the audience's lack of familiarity with Katrina. I had similar issues multiple times in A Knight's Tale and it's also something Doctor Who frequently runs awry of. Trying to inject serious moments into something absurd is always a tough sell and this got very close.

      I think one possible route to fixing these issues would have been to have the Brom character not be willing to accept Katrina's plea for sanity. Maintaining him as a foil to Ichabod and having some additional scene showing Brom behaving in a terrible manner towards Katrina while she's trying to accomplish some other goal and using that moment to allow Ichabod to truly understand and internalize Katrina's viewpoint (and his own role in opposing it) rather than simply having Ichabod changed by the speech alone. Or maintaining the more unexpected subversion and having Brom be the one who learns and grows while Ichabod fails.

      It's worth noting that the ending is strong enough that I think the choice to end it there rather than with any sort of narration outro is completely valid, which I would argue against in the vast majority of cases. Even so, there's still this little mental wall in my mind that has trouble dealing with not using narration bookends, despite it probably being the better and more interesting choice.

      And there we go. About a thousand words later and you're out of the woods. Maybe you disagreed with me. Maybe you started shouting “Stand down, Kyle!” and throwing books into a fire. Maybe you're wondering if I'm deliberately parodying a romantic hero to make a point. Whatever the case I'll close with the simple reminder that I love chainsawsuit. If you don't love something, it's not worth taking the time to criticize. A Knight's Tale was a 65 million dollar movie with a cast of dozens, a crew of hundreds, and months of production. Chainsawsuit 77 was a production that said “F that!” to licensing fees, a cast of three, a crew of two, and was produced over a weekend. They're worth comparing. That's an impressive feat.

      • MikeyNeumann says:

        I always enjoy your commentary and I fully support everything you've said. It does not surprise me or give me any emotions other than: I'm glad we made you laugh.

        I knew the scene with Hilda and Katrina came off as preachy. I considered it, then I reconsidered it, then I reconsidered everything I had considered.

        At the end of the day, and I no mean no offense by this statement as it merely factual, and I love you Kyle Douglas, but that wasn't there for you.

        Lately, the internet is not the greatest place for females. While, the origins of the humor with Hilda was to apply 2014 gender discussions to 1830s ideals, it went much deeper. The internet is a dangerous place right now for women and this last week had events that struck a little too close to home for me.

        That we're even having this conversation is pretty awesome. But every decision isn't going to work for every listener, as is the nature of a podcast. I wrote it in two days, recorded in half a day, and edited for two more. It actually delights me that you would compare it to A Knight's Tale. It's never going to be perfect given our weekly time / job constraints, but that's a hell of a high bar to willfully compare our narrative and production to that of a multi-million dollar film worked on by hundreds, if not thousands, of people.

        When it came down to it, the themes I was playing with were very simple. It was about friendship, and I committed to commentary there so that the woman listening to this podcast, while not learning anything they don't already know, would know that I'm on their team.

        I'm on your team too, Kyle. It might seem presumptuous on my part to say that I was expecting your feedback to be in line with what you've said. You hold us to the highest standard and I am thankful and appreciative of that fact. You're awesome.

        I wish there were more time to treat things like this more like a movie, that we didn't record what is ostensibly a 42-page first draft I wrote over two days. That's what a film would do.

        At the end of the day, I aimed to make people laugh and maybe, just maybe, in the end they would feel something. A day later, collecting data from a variety of venues, I would say that we succeeded here. Speaking personally, and understanding your feedback, I honestly don't think there's a world where we could achieve what you're asking. It's not feasible within the format, even though I agree with a lot of what you're saying. With time to vet and polish, I think almost all of your feedback would have been addressed.

        In the world where we took the idea and made a Sleepy Hollow movie, this would be a different conversation. I just don't know how to create actionable objectives out of the feedback because the main takeaway for me is "take more time" on what is inarguably the most time we've ever spent on a podcast.

        But what I can say, is that I had a marvelous time working on this. It made me happy; very happy, actually.

        As always, thanks for all the time you put into helping us be better.

        • Kyle_Douglas says:

          Don't worry too much about your main takeaway being “take more time.” I mean, sure, I can dare to dream about some two-hour version with flashbacks to Ichabod and Katrina's childhood, a deeper delving into twisted Horseman mythos, guest appearances from the entire cast of M*A*S*H, and the first performance of Led Zeppelin since 2007.

          But that's not the real goal when I give critical feedback. The real goal is merely increasing the chances that the next time you end up in a situation where “I knew the scene with Hilda and Katrina came off as preachy. I considered it, then I reconsidered it, then I reconsidered everything I had considered.” that you happen upon an ideal third path solution that makes such internal debate unnecessary.

          Let's for a brief moment visit a parallel reality. This parallel reality is inhabited by a parallel version of Cantankerous Kyle. I call him Downer Douglas:
          “The real trouble with this episode is that characters like Brom and the pastor are just one step shy of being introduced as corpses. This might be amusing if that was the literal case and it was a deliberate slasher film parody, but it's not and the moments of Katrina and Ichabod being affected by the deaths doesn't translate on even a base level since we never knew the victims as living.”

          This criticism isn't valid in our reality because you wrote the scene with Brom talking to the pastor. It also happens to be the scene with the two best “iron” gags. I'm not sure what difference between Downer Douglas' and our reality led to that scene's creation, but it was something.

          Is it possible to get across the same message you intended while being less preachy? The first idea that comes to my own mind is having Katrina express her frustrations to Hilda while Ichabod and Brom are (inappropriately) eavesdropping on the conversation… and they take it to heart.

          I'm not sure if that would work, but it's a more time-efficient idea than my knee-jerk reaction of Katrina needing a separate additional scene and the idea is a direct result of this little conversation. Refinement and reaching better solutions in less time is a natural consequence of being genuinely introspective regarding feedback – as you are. So, again, don't worry too much about not seeing actionable objectives. You're already acting.

          Trust me, I have it on good authority that I'm awesome 😉

          • MikeyNeumann says:

            "Is it possible to get across the same message you intended while being less preachy? The first idea that comes to my own mind is having Katrina express her frustrations to Hilda while Ichabod and Brom are (inappropriately) eavesdropping on the conversation… and they take it to heart."

            The answer to the question is yes, but the question you're not asking yourself is "am I the only one that feels this way about that scene?" I've received MANY comments that were absolutely apeshit in love with that scene. I wouldn't change it for anything right now. Try to see it from my perspective and see a larger picture where thousands of people getting different things out of the material.

          • Kyle_Douglas says:

            Great, now we've come roundabout to where I need to take more time, heh. I didn't respond to the first half of your response because I feel like I'm taking up waaaaay more comment space and the time of people reading this (especially yours) than I have any right to.

            But, alright, here we go with a fuller response.

            The majority of the #stuff going on I'm only aware of the wide scope of. In fact, nearly the only narrow scope things I've seen are a few things from specifically your Twitter feed. I have the luxury of avoiding it because the types of sites I visit are not involved and the people I know aren't either. You, and many of the people you know and work with, don't have that luxury. Which sucks. It really, really does.

            I saw an interview with Nichelle Nichols (Star Trek's Uhura) once that I've never forgotten. She related the story of telling Gene Roddenberry "I understand what you're doing. You're writing morality plays and setting them in the 23rd century." To which Gene laughed and said, "Shhhhh, they haven't figured that out yet!"

            People have a tendency to stop listening when they're presented with ideas that run counter to their world view. Or, worse yet, to lash back. It's easier than having a dialogue, it's easier than introspection, and it's a heck of a lot easier than change. There's obviously a lot of this going on in #stuff; on all sides.

            That's part of why the Katrina speech frustrates me. You've just said 'but the question you're not asking yourself is "am I the only one that feels this way about that scene?"' Which is a fair thing to say considering I repeated the idea that the scene could be better with alterations, without really going into fuller context of why I personally feel that way.

            The underpinning of my originally stated issue with the scene was that it felt like preaching to the choir and the fact that it annoyed me that was basically Katrina's only role within the episode. And that's still true of my perspective. And you're right that a lot of people love hearing speeches that reflect their world view – I'm sure in certain contexts I do too (Cosmos comes to mind). This is particularly understandable when the type of speech involved isn't heard very often in fiction.

            chainsawsuit isn't my venue, it's yours (and Kris'). chainsawsuit isn't Star Trek. There's no executive looking over your shoulder getting nervous or trying to change what you want to say. But this episode and Star Trek hold the similarity of commentating on social issues in the context of fiction.

            So that's the other half of what I mean when I'm concerned about the way the scene was presented. I'm not worried about the people that love it. I'm not worried about the people that agree with it. I'm not worried about the people you wanted to show you're on their side… I'm worried about the Ichabod's and Brom's that may be listening – even if they're a minority. I'm worried that the type of person who actually needs to hear Katrina's speech will turn off the episode because of how it's presented.

            If you're not worried about reaching that type of person or would even prefer that they not be part of chainsawsuit's listenership, then you don't need to worry about the type of contextual shift I'm talking about. The way I've worded that sounds pretty critical because I would find it disappointing. The speech itself is excellent as is the ending monologue. I truly believe that with only minor pivots it could have been equally (or more so) love-worthy by "the team" while speaking more strongly to others. I think having that wider reach is worthwhile for important topics.

            But I do understand that can be harder and what seems like a minor pivot to me might be far more daunting or undesirable for various reasons. I can understand the desire to vent. I can understand the fantasy of having Ichabod listen and change with ease. And even if I would find it disappointing, I can honestly understand the desire to have chainsawsuit (or, at least, this episode) be a sanctuary where neither you, your characters, or your audience needs to worry about the walls in the way of that; because you're forced to deal with that elsewhere. Which, again, sucks.

            I started the very first post up above with the inclusion of my being too hard to please. And you affirmed, correctly, that I set a very high bar for chainsawsuit. But the reason that's true is that you and Kris have proven it can reach that bar with episodes like 36 and 49 getting damn near my subjective perception of perfection.

            You're awesome. Kris is awesome. chainsawsuit is awesome. Anyone else reading this is awesome. The fact you wrote a Sleepy Hollow adaptation in two days that merits discussion is awesome. That scene at the start of the extended Avengers 2 trailer is awesome. The word awesome… actually could use some work; maybe I'll write another thousand word comment on how I think it could be even better 😉

      • With regards to Brom, I like the idea of an otherwise very bro-stereotype NOT totally adhering to that stereotype when it comes to how he regard Katrina in the end, yet still remaining totally bro.

        • Crap. 'regards'. I'll go give myself 20 lashes.

          • Kyle_Douglas says:

            Oh jeez, don't going setting that as a precedent. I've got a "linkin'" in that first post up there that should be "likin'", and I really hadn't planned on any response to that besides a mild level of shame and annoyance 😛

          • "If you don't lash, you don't learn", so go cut yourself a switch.

        • Chloister says:

          Me too. Depending on the portrayal of a "bro" in comedy, they can sometimes be annoyingly endearing and funny, when not being sexist/racist?/homophobic. Having Brom be a bro who listens and learns made for guilt-free enjoyment of his broitude.
          The bath/fight scene was my favorite. The description of the room, the scented candles…loved it.

          • ThomasG says:

            This was an important point to me as well. Brom was more than a Huntyr clone; he had development and redemption despite the Bro-ness. Sort of an anti-antihero, which looped back around nicely to someone I could root for. And the preceding anvilicious women's lib portion really helped to make that happen.

            Anviliciousness has become pretty distatesful, and is something that Chainsawsuit will often lampoon. But I don't have a problem seeing it rarely and when the author wants to make a very clear point. Mike threw something together very quickly that I think turned out really well, and thankfully didn't get murdered in some subsequent workshop because it was a little bit weird.

      • Chloister says:

        Your mentioning comedy that inserts seriousness into something otherwise absurd reminds me of the series finally of Black Adder. There were 4 seasons, each one taking place in a different era of British history, but with the same characters. In seasons 1-3, *SPOILERS* everyone dies in the last episode, but in exaggerated and comedic ways. Season 4 though was different. It took place during WW1. The humor throughout the season was the same, but when it finally came time to die, it wasn't funny. The characters spent the whole season trying to get released from military service, failed, then are last seen going to certain death on the battlefield. Slow motion running into gunfire, dramatic music, fade to black(or was it white?), the end. It was genuinely sad.
        I never looked into it, but I speculated the writers took a chance with these beloved characters to illustrate how unglamorous and sad war is. I think the unexpectedness maybe made it more poignant? I don't know.
        I think this was less about tying it back to the podcast and more about me seeking closure I never got after that show. Damn you Black Adder! D*:

  12. SheanaM says:

    Well, that podcast sure was A Thing! Not at all what I expected, though honestly, this really isn't a podcast for expecting things, I suppose.

    That long aside in the middle with the lady characters talking about feminism got a little weird, but the punchline of the distant 'we weren't dating I didn't break up with yooouuu' response sold it. The purposely half-assed crowd noises and "A ghost has did this" really got me, too.

    Geeze, that ending! At first I was all 'whaaaaat', because the sudden seriousness after all the previous ridiculous humor and the even more sudden ending with no joke or out-of-character followup caught me super offguard, but y'know, thinking on it, I liked it. The way it was worded really was quite interesting and very touching!

  13. Jeff Keys says:

    I just wanted to say real quick that I love the podcast and you guys' work, and I have for a while, but this episode was just on a whole other level. I will probably listen to this periodically for, like, years. Even my wife, who is just meh over the other episodes, thought it was amazing.

  14. Connor_Rosine says:

    This is amazing. Just, amazing.

  15. quinty1984 says:

    This iron episode makes me iron happy to iron listen to the iron podcast. I hope the iron lord iron blesses you all for iron forever, iron.

  16. Desybell says:

    I was expecting this to be entertaining, but I have to say that the amount of wonderful that was this radio play was absolutely astounding. I don't think I can come up with anything more to say than that.

    P.S. That ending…I would have clapped, but I was in public.

  17. Jeff Keys says:

    Just coming back to say that I've listened to this like five times so far, and it never gets old.

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