TV Review: The Following

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Martin Blank
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TV Review: The Following

Post by Martin Blank » Wed Jan 23, 2013 8:17 pm

Even though I don't let myself get drawn into them much, I do love a great drama series with a running story arc. I enjoyed most of Prison Break, I love The Walking Dead, and I even enjoy Once Upon A Time. So when I saw the promos for The Following, I was intrigued by where the story could go.

Who am I kidding? I saw Kevin Bacon was going to have a TV show and immediately decided to watch.

A mid-season addition to the Fox lineup (though I watched it via Hulu Plus), The Following stars Bacon as former FBI agent Ryan Hardy, whose last case was to put serial killer Joe Carroll (played by James Purefoy) behind bars. Carroll's drive was art in death, following the beliefs of some of his favorite writers such as Emerson and Poe. After Carroll escapes from prison a few weeks before he is to be executed, Hardy is called to provide assistance in tracking him down.

As the episode unfolds, we find that Carroll no longer works alone. He's known to have "groupies," as they're frequently referred to by other characters. This isn't uncommon for serial killers, with many of them marrying despite there never being a chance to be free again. Carroll, though, has been much more involved with his fans, selecting some to train to carry out his goals. This adds additional weight to protecting Sarah Fuller (Maggie Grace), Carroll's last target and the only victim to have survived, and Carroll's son and ex-wife.

The first episode was a little jumbled, which may have been intentional to reflect the chaos that happens in the manhunt. When we meet Hardy, he's trying to ignore the calls that will bring him back, unaware of Carroll's escape. He's brooding (but then, he is Kevin Bacon) and clearly trying to get on with his life, and when he learns of the day's events, he realizes quickly that his nightmare is coming to pass. The reason that he's left the FBI is left uncertain, at first, though there are a few indications that he's not easy to get along with, with former colleagues acting dismissive of his mere presence. He also seems to struggle with being essentially a consultant and not an agent, and later in the episode, we see an example of why people tend to not like him.

As the story unfolds, it starts to become clear that even if Carroll is put back, it's not going to end the problem. His following have already been provided instructions and it's not at all clear how many there are. One very different aspect of the show is that the violence committed is depicted with a level of realism not often seen on network TV. We don't see many of the attacks themselves, but the aftermaths are shown and are often savage. They tend to be shown in quick takes, like someone looking at it and then looking away, reinforcing how brutally people died.

It's hard not to have some cliché in a story about a serial killer, and some does come up: this one's motive is different, he comes from an unusual background for a serial killer, and so on. Similarly, Hardy is the tortured hero who is the only one that understands what is happening and what's truly at stake. Fortunately, these provide a starting point and the writers take the plot in a different direction. Bacon and Purefoy also demonstrate an ability to take what could be flat characters and give them depth that's not necessarily in the script, and watching them go head-to-head can be fascinating.

I'm looking forward to the next few episodes to see how this unfolds. I hope they keep it to one or two seasons and not stretch it out like what happened to Prison Break. Keep the story moving, and it could be a lot of fun.
Last edited by Martin Blank on Wed Jan 23, 2013 11:59 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Jezebel
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Re: TV Review: The Following

Post by Jezebel » Wed Jan 23, 2013 9:37 pm

Loved it, was shocked at the network tv brutality. Incredibly brutal for a non cable show. Purefoy killed it, (ha!). It was very jumbled, sure, but I will forgive a pilot for that.

Also do you mean Once Upon a Time? :)

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Jezebel
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Re: TV Review: The Following

Post by Jezebel » Wed Jan 23, 2013 9:42 pm

Also, the creator Kevin Williamson, was the creator of Scream, among other things. :)

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Martin Blank
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Re: TV Review: The Following

Post by Martin Blank » Thu Jan 24, 2013 12:01 am

Indeed, I did mean Once Upon A Time. Thanks.

If they meant it to be jumbled, I think they need to work on that a bit. There's jumbled like a Rubik's Cube--good--and jumbled like a pile of Lego blocks--bad. It's somewhere in between now.
If I show up at your door, chances are you did something to bring me there.

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Martin Blank
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Re: TV Review: The Following

Post by Martin Blank » Sat Feb 09, 2013 9:24 pm

Three episodes in, and the stars are carrying their weight. Unfortunately, much of the rest of the cast and the writing are dropping off rapidly.

Main issues:
Spoiler: (click to reveal/hide)
An admittedly-unusual romantic triangle has thrown one group into disarray, a potential witness who may be targeted by an ex-husband who is a member of a cult of unknown size is given only one FBI agent to keep an eye on her, and no one is watching the prison guard to prevent him from hurting himself.
I fear that this show isn't going to make it all the way to the end.
If I show up at your door, chances are you did something to bring me there.

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Jezebel
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Re: TV Review: The Following

Post by Jezebel » Thu Feb 14, 2013 12:04 am

Nice premise, great cast, decent plot ideas but I think it suffers mainly from trying to pander to more universal appeal. I think it could have done great things on FX or HBO. Ratings have gone down a lot. It dropped half a point for the most recent episode which isn't good news. If it continues to drop it will not get a renewal and if it continues to drop that badly I wouldn't be surprised by pulling it entirely.
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