I’m holding off on writing reviews of movies for a bit, since I’ve found myself rather occupied on some life stuff. I do have the time to review shows, though. The Following is Kevin Bacon’s new series, and the first episode aired yesterday. I just finished watching the Pilot episode a few minutes ago.

http://www.imdb.com/title/tt2071645/

I’d heard about this show back when there was no summary on its IMDB page, and from the poster, I assumed that it was going to be a buddy cop dramedy. Standard stuff, really. I’m a real fan of crime shows (or detective shows) and I was perfectly fine with the idea of watching yet another buddy cop show. But, that’s not what I got.

As you can see, the Following is about a brilliant serial killer with a devoted following – if you will – and Kevin Bacon plays a former FBI Agent who’s on disability after a tussle with said serial killer, Joe Carroll. You see, Kevin Bacon was stabbed in the chest, and his heart was damaged severely. Since then, he’s been forced to wear a pacemaker to keep his heart ticking and he’s currently living off on the royalties of his true crime novel about Joe Carroll.

The episode begins with Joe Carroll’s escape after the gruesome murders of a few prison guards. At this point, I realized that this would not be standard at all. In White Collar, the Pilot begins with the main character – Neal/Neil – escaping from jail. He eventually ends up as a consultant to the FBI’s white collar crime division.

Somehow, I don’t imagine this will work out much the same way. The episode relies heavily on sound and flashbacks. The use of Kevin Bacon’s heartbeat is used to great effect (after all, his heart is weak), and the show utilizes incredibly loud sounds in an attempt to shock you. There’s a scene, for example, where a character is looking into a mirror while having a flashback. There is literally no sound. Suddenly, a man in a suit appears behind her, and the typical horror movie BAM resonates as she jumps into a closet.

It’s not really a bother, but it’s worth mentioning that you won’t have ground breaking new techniques of shocking the viewer in this. There’s also a scene where Kevin Bacon crawls through a crawlspace in a closet – without a weapon – while the sturdy FBI Agent follows behind him.

Call me insane, but this doesn’t strike me as terribly realistic. Here we have a man who hasn’t been an active field agent for over eight years, whose heart could give out any second, and he’s on point? With no weapon?

Doesn’t strike me as overly realistic, if you ask me. The show’s portrayal of FBI agents and detectives also falls victim to the “Sherlock” Effect. Everyone is literally incompetent – except for either the love interest or the sidekick of the consultant – and the consultant guides them through every little thing.

It happens on several shows where they utilize the “consultant” angle. Castle managed not to make the detectives totally incompetent, same with the Mentalist, but… I’m afraid only one of the characters – the great admirer of Bacon’s character – really stood out as someone not completely… Stupid. I guess we’ll see, though, right? I can’t really fault a show for not showing enough character development in one episode. They’re not miracle workers, but it’s worth mentioning.

The show also uses a fair bit of literary name dropping. The serial killer, portrayed by James Purefoy, is a great admirer of Edgar Allan Poe and the romantic period. I don’t get it, to be honest. I was always more of a Lovecraft kind of guy, who was inspired by Poe. My sister, though, posses the Complete Works of Poe while I possess the Complete Works of Lovecraft, so it’s pretty even in our household.

The acting of the serial killer is pretty decent. Like I said earlier, the show uses a lot of flashbacks, and the flashbacks involving the serial killer says a lot about his character, even though we don’t really see anything from his perspective. I wager the writers of the show are saving an episode told from his perspective till later in the season.

I don’t think they would have scored well among viewers if they’d told it entirely from a serial killer’s perspective. And yes, while I know Dexter does the same, they are not on Showtime. Lots of parents would complain about their children accidentally stumbling into a scene where a serial killer is portrayed as sympathetic.

No. I don’t think they’ll be doing that until the show has been renewed for a second season. Now, what about the mystery at the heart of this show and the concept itself? It’s honestly great. It’s original, and somewhat unbelievable ( at times ), but it is entertaining. Again, I said they used the sound of Bacon’s heartbeat to great effect. At times, I really did feel tense, and it was only heightened by the echo of a human heart.

It’s also no doubt a nod to Edgar Allan Poe’s telltale heart (however farfetched or discreet they make it seem) and the episode was very well directed. All in all, this is a serious show. Deadly serious.

But is it good? Why, yes, it is. The concept is original, the tortured character of Ryan Hardy ( Bacon ) is great, and even the serial killer is… Interesting. There was a scene near the ending that I thought was rather stupid. You see, they identified an “apprentice” of sort of the serial killer, and they had his name and picture.

Yet, near the ending, they show a scene of him pretending to be a police officer, whereby the victim replies, “Why are you on patrol? I saw on the News that they caught the serial killer already.”

The problem with most serial killers is that the police do not know what he looks like, making it very difficult for the public to keep a proper and watchful eye. I mean. What if your neighbor is a serial killer? If a news anchor or police officer asks that, then the public will panic. But show them the face of the killer, and you see the people unite and watch out for one another. So, I thought it was rather stupid. Now, it could be that they showed it in the News, and the victim didn’t see that segment, but I find that hard to believe.

I mean, how would it go, exactly? “Well, we’ve caught a serial killer. Yup. In other news, here is a clip of a dog trying to sing-a-long to Home by Phillip Phillips.” – twenty minutes later – “By the way, here’s the name and picture of the serial killer’s apprentice. Now, here’s a clip of a car almost being towed. Back to you, Kent.”

Ahem. That may have been slightly exaggerated, but you do get my point, right? The last ten minutes of the episode, though, was spectacular. Loved it. That scene wasn’t enough to stop me from being enthralled in the last ten minutes, and the encounter between Ryan Hardy and Joe Carroll was awesome.

So. Final verdict – this is a great show. I haven’t come up with a rating system for shows yet, but for now, let’s call this a 7.9/10.

It’s serious, it’s thrilling, and it’s original. Should you go in expecting the Good Guys, Castle, Burn Notice? Nope. I wouldn’t even say to expect the Mentalist or Criminal Minds. But expect an interesting new show, and you’re cool.The-Following-Cast-Promotional-Group-Photos-the-following-32576269-3900-2700

 

~J.A. Romano

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Comments
  1. C.Hill says:

    I just watched this. I called every little twist up until they caught the guy. Tape recording. Overused. But the scene between the two in interrogation….Brilliant. I loved it. This is going to be a show to watch, pun intended.

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