sunset from behind the wire

sunset from behind the wire

Friday, March 8, 2013

The Following (Series Review)

Imagine the television series 24 meeting the television series Prison Break. At least that's how I feel when I watch The Following.

Tag Line: Even Serial Killers have friends. 

Maybe on television, but most serial killers don't have many friends. Most of them are loners and losers with higher than normal IQ's but underdeveloped social skills. The writing staff tried to make the actors into those people, but they failed primarily because they don't have the time to develop each dysfunctional murderer and the actors themselves are quite charismatic -- because they're good actors.

There is a large network of serial killers on the loose and they are conveniently embedded almost everywhere. Ryan Hardy (Kevin Bacon), a former FBI special agent has been sleeping with Dr. Claire Matthews (Natalie Zea), the wife of  Joe Carroll (James Purefoy). They met while Hardy investigated Joe Carroll for a series of murders.

Joe Carroll is a former university professor who taught American Literature and has an affinity to Edgar Allen Poe. He recreates the murders in Poe's work and as we find as the series progresses, he has hundreds of devoted murderers at his beck and call.

The writing takes on a unbelievable beat as Carroll and his followers seem to be at the right place and the right time while the FBI/Police never seem to be. Bacon and Purefoy anchor the acting talent, but the acting is very good across the board, so I'm not taking a shot at them at all. They are bound by the story telling, which varies between good and weak in my humble opinion. Emma Hill (Valorie Curry) does a great job of portraying one of the soulless serial killers who hang on Joe Carroll's every word. The first season was recently renewed and so there will be a second.

Natalie Zea comes across as beautiful, sophisticated, vulnerable and interesting in her portrayal of Claire Matthews. However, (yes, there is always a however), the character that the writers give her seems to be a species of broken record by the seventh episode - and they need to up the game to keep her vital and interesting.

In the series Prison Break (which included Kevin Bacon), the show held together for two seasons and then petered out in the third. The first two seasons were quite good. And The Following is good enough to keep me tuning in. I question that it has the depth to keep people coming back to the semi-slasher series after a season or two of melodrama, but I hope that the writers prove me wrong. 24 kept its audience by having the hero, Jack Bauer, jumping into new situations each year. It's nearly impossible to do that with a slasher series because you get desensitized by the slashing eventually and the plot arcs are quite predictable.


My overall recommendation: It's good enough to hold my interest so far, but I am skeptical that they can hold an audience through the second season despite superior actors in the cast. 

7 out of  a possible 10.

8 comments:

  1. I'm really liking this series so far... but I have many of the same concerns that you expressed. I'm hoping that they have an over all plan that has the series definitely ending after season two. I think it probably would have been fantastic ending after just a single season, though. Plot lines like this have a limited shelf life before you end up scratching your head while they drag out Fonzie and the Shark Tank.

    Like I said, though - I'm diggin' it so far.

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    1. Yes, it's in the zone for now.

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  2. Prison Break did not have any place it could go. There are only so many prisons to break out of. By the time they got imprisoned in latin america again and needed to break out AGAIN, it was a bit much.

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    1. I think that the serial killer cult series, The Following, is headed for the same morass that Prison Break writers found themselves in. There are places that they could take this show in a second season -- but I'd be surprised if it's renewed for a third. Somebody would need to up their game.

      When the show runner(s) of Prison Break started the series, I thought that they felt they could reproduce the long running hit series "The Fugitive", which was very popular in the 60's and 70's. But they didn't.

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  3. You watch series television?

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  4. I haven't seen series TV in years, since I'm never home long enough to actually follow the story arc...

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