The series follows an FBI agent (Kevin Bacon) who finds himself tracking a network of serial killers--masterminded from prison by the serial killer he caught years ago. James Purefoy plays Joe Carroll, a former college professor who taught the works of Edgar Allen Poe and killed young women in the gothic hero's honor—until he got caught. Since then he's been spending hours on a computer in the prison library, building a social network of copycat killers who hang on his every command. When the series begins, he's just escaped from death row with help from those followers, and the FBI calls in former agent Ryan Hardy—who brought down Joe the first time—to consult on the case.The show has a lot going it:
1) James Purefoy. You probably recognize him from Rome (he played Mark Antony) or A Knight's Tale (he played the Prince guy), and he's one of my favorite actors. He's handsome, charming, and can exude crazy almost too easily. When he and Kevin Bacon face off, you can really believe that he is a serial killer brilliant and charismatic enough to convince people to follow in his footsteps.
Tall, dark, handsome, and FUCKING CRAZY AS A LOON. Still, what's a little sociopathy among friends?
2) Production Costs: the show looks great and it's clear the network spared no expense. The pilot felt completely cinematic and boasted a full cast and cool locations.
3) The dark tone. It's a show about serial killers after all, and I've got a soft spot when it comes to the "true crime" genre. Call me crazy, but I've kind of got a sick fascination with reading and watching stories with serial killers. Please do not attempt to explain what this says about me--I think I'm better off not knowing. The point is, The Following does not shy away the darkness and violence. Does it bother me that the violence is (once again) aimed solely at women? Of course. But I think that's a larger problem with network television these days. Point is, The Following is creepy and kind of scary and I dig that.
As with most things in life, The Following is not without its flaws. So far I have problems with:
1) The Edgar Allen Poe angle. As you can see from the show's description, the main baddie's inspiration for murdering people is an obsession with all things Poe. I'm sorry, but this just makes me roll my eyes. For one, it seems played out and a cliche. Also, perhaps my memory isn't that great--but I don't seem to remember that Poe actually advocated killing people. Sure he wrote scary stories and was super depressed, but it's not like he was the president and member of Serial Killers Club for Men. The Poe stuff just seems forced.
Did I mention the followers wear these Edgar Allen Poe masks? No? Well, it's some of the creepiest shit my tv has seen for a while. And I watch American Horror Story.
2) Kevin Bacon. I love Kevin Bacon, I really do. He was in Footloose for god's sake! But his former FBI agent didn't make much of an impression so far. Sure, he's an alcoholic and has a heart problem, but other than that he kind of comes off as blank to me. Perhaps that will change in the future, but for right now he's too vanilla.
3) The lack of a strong female. The only things women have done on this show so far are get murdered, run around screaming and wringing their hands, or get manipulated by a serial killer. I'm not saying we need to have Buffy the Vampire Slayer or anything, but COME ON. Would it kill you to throw the female viewership a bone?
So we've got three points in favor and three against. I wouldn't say that I'm hooked, but I'm still enjoying watching The Following--mostly due to James Purefoy's performance. But if they keep him locked away in prison through the entire season things are going to get old fast. Basically, if they can sustain the energy and promise of the pilot, I'm going to stick with it. But if it's just young girls getting butchered with a hastily scrawled "Nevermore" on the wall every week, I might have to bid it a fond adieu.
The Following airs Mondays at 9 on FOX.