FOX renews ‘Sleepy Hollow,’ set ‘Glades’ veteran as showrunner

After a season of declining ratings and some creative wobbliness, “Sleepy Hollow” has been renewed for a third season, with a new showrunner in place.

FOX announced on Wednesday (March 18) that “Sleepy Hollow” will be back next season (timing for that return is unannounced) and that Clifton Campbell will be taking over as showrunner.

“'Sleepy Hollow' is truly inventive television. The talented producers – led by Alex, Bob, Len and Heather – along with the brilliant cast, anchored by Nicole and Tom, have created a fantastic world that brings ‘history” to life with compelling and vibrant storytelling,” blurbs FOX Entertainment President David Madden. “I had the pleasure of working with Clifton on both ‘The Glades” and ‘White Collar.” He is an excellent producer, and we can”t wait to see what this team has in store for Season Three.”

Campbell was creator and executive producer on “The Glades” and served as co-executive producer on “White Collar.”

Season 2 showrunner Mark Goffman recently departed “Sleepy Hollow” and signed an overall deal with CBS Studios.

Last year, “Sleepy Hollow” was FOX's shiny new toy, a freshman hit that plowed through the fall with both creative and audience momentum. Rather than asking the creators to push the premise beyond an initially planned run of 13 episodes, FOX moved quickly to renew “Sleepy Hollow” and returned to production late last spring, ahead of the normal production window. 

Unfortunately, the nine-month layoff between seasons hurt ratings for “Sleepy Hollow.” Even with a healthy 60+ percent Live+7 DVR bump, “Sleepy Hollow” averaged only a 2.6 rating among adults 18-49 and only 7.13 million viewers for Season 2. Including the same Live+7 window last year, “Sleepy Hollow” averaged a 4.2 rating among adults 18-49 and 11.15 million viewers.

As a result, “Sleepy Hollow” has been in at least limited renewal limbo. 

In January, Fox Television Group, Chairman and CEO [with Gary Newman] Dana Walden told the Television Critics Association that she was optimistic, but that changes would be made.

“We”re excited about some creative changes on the show and bringing it back to something that feels a little bit more episodic in nature, that has closure, and doesn”t feel quite so serialized,” Walden told reporters in January. “But we really love the show. We love Tom Mison and Nicole Beharie. They have fantastic chemistry. We feel like it”s a really unique series, and I”m hopeful it will come back as well.”

Walden later continued, “[T]his show has a very high level of difficulty. It”s a relationship show. It”s a period show. It”s a contemporary show. You have iconic characters. You are trying to tell mysteries and also build a mythology. And the show got a little overly serialized this past season. It”s very difficult on a show like this to hit the exact right balance of procedural storytelling and ongoing character relationships and the mythology. And we felt, honestly, just watching the show as passionate viewers, as well as being partners on the show, that it got a little too serialized, and all of the creators and executive producers acknowledge that. So, as part of just our diagnostic process on any show, we looked at it midseason, we tried to determine what was working, what wasn”t working. There”s still a lot about it which works extraordinarily well. We are trying to return the fun to it a little bit. It”s an epic battle of good and evil. So that has a tendency to want to get a little bit dark. This is all about calibrating the show, not making dramatic changes.”

FOX offered no specifics on episode count for “Sleepy Hollow” Season 3. The show will also be seeking a new production home after North Carolina abandoned its production tax incentive program in favor of a capped grant program that will mostly apparently be going to “Under the Dome.” Like most displaced Southern productions, “Sleepy Hollow” is expected to be heading to Atlanta, though FOX did not confirm.

Do you agree with Walden's assessment of the changes necessary on “Sleepy Hollow”

Do you have any particular optimism based on Campbell's resume?