While MIDWEST MIKE took one for the team yet again with his expert analysis of THE BACHELOR, I was able to retain all of my dignity by tuning in to the series premiere of THE FOLLOWING. Come to think of it, I’m starting to worry that MIDWEST MIKE is getting pretty attached to his new role of covering shows that men don’t watch. Between his sudden insistence on sharing more ‘feelings’ in MWTVG staff meetings to his secret stash of Sarah McLachlan albums and his newfound ‘fashion-forward’ male wardrobe, I think that myself and MIDWEST MO need to have an emergency “man-tervention” before everything spins too far out of control. We’re here for you, bro.
But back to the topic at hand… tonight’s highly anticipated series premiere of THE FOLLOWING on FOX was most definitely worth the wait. It is extremely dark, violent and brutal certainly earning its ‘viewer discretion’ advisement. But for those of us who dig that stuff, it makes for very good television. I would say that it’s very SEVEN-esque in tone with the exception of the whole biblical sins part being replaced by literary lore based around Edgar Allan Poe’s writings.
The decision to use Poe seems like an obvious/generic topic to build such a show around, but after seeing the whole episode it ends up working in its own way. Ideally they would have picked a slightly more obscure author that hasn’t been tirelessly cashed-in on like Poe but we can’t change it now, can we…
JAMES PUREFOY is by far the highlight of the show, epitomizing what it means to be a psychopathic villain. KEVIN BACON is very good but falls just one beat short of great, although I think we can expect much better things from him in the remainder of the season. It also features SHAWN ASHMORE better recognized as Iceman from the X-MEN movies and BILLY BROWN who just finished up the fifth season of SONS OF ANARCHY as Damon Pope’s second in command August Marks.
Full breakdown inside!
Now to set up the major characters:
Joe Carroll (JAMES PUREFOY) is a charismatic Edgar Allen Poe-obsessed former professor, failed author and vicious serial killer. Ryan Hardy (KEVIN BACON) is a broken-down alcoholic, washed up former FBI agent who is the only one that could identify and catch Carroll. Claire Matthews (NATALIE ZEA) is Joe’s ex-wife and they have a son together named Joey played by KYLE CATLETT (because it’s not enough to be the son of a serial killer, he shares the same name too). Agent Mike Weston (SHAWN ASHMORE) is a newer FBI agent that looks up to and emulates Hardy. There are some other agents and characters who will come to play major parts in the show, but not of much importance in the pilot.
We begin with Joe Carroll making a smooth, calculated and murderous escape form prison one month prior to his scheduled execution which forces the FBI to re-activate one of its former agents Ryan Hardy. Hardy was removed from duty for some yet-to-be-revealed reasons but mainly because he is left with a pacemaker and a bum ticker after his initial run-in with Carroll.
A professor at heart, Carroll has been teaching others for the past several years how to be effective serial killers. He has a large cult-like ‘following’ (hence the name of the show) of crazies that have been affiliated with him for years through all forms of blogs and social media. Now at his whim, Carroll can have his followers carry out whatever he needs. One woman arrives at FBI headquarters only to shove an icepick through her eye while others are deliberate plants to help him keep track of and murder intended victims.
Although she was under heavy police protection, Carroll manages to kidnap his last victim Sarah who he wasn’t quite able to kill before he was captured. On a hunch, Hardy follows the trail to an abandoned bed and breakfast where he finds Joe surrendering and Sarah freshly dead. What he doesn’t know is that a group of Carroll’s trained killers has just been activated they have gone ahead and kidnapped Carroll’s son.
By the way, this episode furthers my hypothesis that you can take any snippet of video, put it in slo mo and add Marilyn Manson’s cover of ‘Sweet Dreams’ to immediately make it creepier. Don’t believe me? Try it with the TELETUBBIES some time and it will forever haunt your dreams.
Overall I would give the inaugural episode of THE FOLLOWING a solid B+. Hopefully we can dispense with the constant flashbacks and get to more of the action next week.
Fourteen more episodes in the next 14 weeks means that I have a few months of busy Monday nights. Comments on the pilot episode? Share below!