Friday, 3 May 2013

TV: The Following (S1) (6/10)

Why did I watch it?
Seems a while ago now but I think I must have bought into the big marketing campaign for the show.

What's it all about?
Having already caught infamous serial killer Joe Carroll (James Purefoy) once, the FBI turn to former agent Ryan Hardy (Kevin Bacon) to help recapture Carroll after his escape. This time however, Hardy isn't just hunting Carroll but also his cult of like-minded killers cultivated during his time in prison, all striving to serve Carroll in his desire to get revenge on Hardy and those closest to him, starting with his own wife Claire (Natalie Zea).

Should you watch it?
The season premiere of The Following was one of the best, if not the best, openings to a show I've ever seen. TV shows have long been capable of film quality drama and production, but for suspense and horror, the pilot was as good as any slasher film I've seen. Within 45 minutes, we were introduced to Hardy and the FBI team as well  as Carroll's wife and son, who are soon secured following Carroll's escape. Also secured was Carroll's last victim and the only one to survive, Sarah Fuller. She seemed set for a role in the show yet it turned out that through his cult, Carroll's reach is vast and her death summed the first episode up, dark, scary, brutal and unpredictable. 

Created by Kevin Williamson, the writer of Scream 1 & 2, I Know What You Did Last Summer and The Faculty, perhaps it was not surprising that The Following ventured further into a darker, macabre nature than most procedural police shows. The idea for the show was certainly original from the cult perspective but the notion that Carroll was an Edgar Allan Poe fanatic and based his murders on his works seems too hot on the heels of the 2012 film The Raven to be original. Also, it has to be said that Bacon's character ticks a fair number of boxes on the 'former agents returning to the job' cliché list.

Talking Heads
Unfortunately, the show's pilot episode was it's strongest and all later episodes were hampered by the contrived nature of Carroll's plot, the stupidity and ineptitude of the FBI agents involved, weekly introduction of the latest member of Carroll's cult to 'play their part' before inevitably being gunned down senselessly by the FBI and irritatingly repetitive metaphors to the structure of a book's plot by Carroll.   

As leading men for a TV show go, Kevin Bacon was a pretty big catch for FOX and on occasions you do feel that he is the heart and soul of the show and maybe the only reason you are still watching. That's not to take anything away from the likes of James Purefoy, though not quite as menacing as Hannibal Lecter as serial killers go, Shawn Ashmore, Natalie Zea and Annie Parisse, all of whom contribute willingly.

The season ended on the up, if slightly predictably, and I dare say I will be tuning in to see how the events of the season finale are carried forward.

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