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Wednesday, April 17, 2013

TV Review: The Following

Everything's coming up killers on broadcast TV. Dexter says welcome to the party.

how about one degree, m-f-ers?
Leading up to the premiere here in L.A., there was a lot of grumbling about the teasers for The Following, Fox's new serial killer series. Some of it was for the somewhat laughable dialog. Some was jealousy of Kevin Bacon, apparently taking work away from TV actors (ok, L.A., let's get over that, the stigma of doing TV is gone. And anyway, TV folks would do movies in a second).

Will we ever learn that masks
are super creepy?
Now that the series has had a handful of episodes out, it's time to admit - this thing has legs.

The premise behind The Following is that a university professor serial killer with a Poe fetish uses his powers of persuasion to gather a following (see what they did?) of other killers, serial and otherwise, to convince them to do his bidding.

Hey, look! It's my friend
Cheri Christian!
Unlike Hannibal, which uses a lot of gruesome and ingenious death to create its tension, The Following, while also pretty gruesome, relies more on the fear of a fastidious planner carrying out a grand plot. Viewers find themselves asking "could that character be one of his followers?" It's like Dexter and Battlestar Galactica had a baby. Who is a follower? What will they do? And in the process, we find ourselves believing that these people could be tricked into trusting a stranger who eventually becomes a friend.



Bacon and Purefoy
Ultimately, that's what makes the following chilling. It leverages the run of the mill chill factor of real life serial killers being the good looking guy next door, who nobody would have guessed was a killer, and takes it to a new level.

How many creepy masks does it
take to screw in a lightbulb?
Bacon plays the retired FBI agent Ryan Hardy, brought back to find the killer, Joe Carroll (played perfectly by James Purefoy), who has engineered an escape from prison. What follows is a who-did-what-for-how-long? plot line, where those closest to Hardy are either pawns or operatives of Carroll.

The acting on this is believable, and while later episodes start getting a little soapy especially on the killer's side of the story, it's still a crazy ride with some excellent, if twisted, writing.

The Following
Mondays, 9pm
Fox

8.5 out of 10 cultists

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