Hey TV.com, Should I Watch The Following?

By Tim Surette

Jan 18, 2013

People get murdered all the time. Heck, I just murdered three people on the way to get some Mountain Dew at the corner store. But do you want to watch a whole show about people getting murdered? Fox thinks you do and has high hopes for The Following, a new drama about a serial killer and the FBI guy who wants to stop him. I've seen the piot and will answer some of the made-up questions you have on your mind to help you decide whether it's worthy of your eyeballs.


I've heard about this The Following show, but what is it about?

Kevin Bacon (yes, he of the loose feet) plays former FBI man Ryan Hardy, who left the bureau due to a drinking problem and a punctured ticker after putting James Carroll, one of the country's most infamous murderers, in prison. But when Carroll, a former literary professor, escapes the clink after creating a network of copycat fans via the internet who are willing to do his bidding, it's up to Hardy to stop all of them and work out his inner demons. (Yes, this is the actual premise.)


When does The Following premiere?

Honor Martin Luther King, Jr. with a debut viewing of The Following on Monday, January 21 at 9pm on Fox! Although I have a feeling King's dream didn't involve women poking icepicks into their brains.


Who created the show?

This comes from Kevin Williamson, whose portfolio spans the TV drama category from the teen drama of Dawson's Creek to the teen vampire drama of The Vampire Diaries.


What type of people will like The Following?

If you've recently murdered a dog or a cat or a college coed, you'll like The Following. If you're a fan of deranged serial-killer movies like Silence of the Lambs and Se7en or dig horror-porn like Saw and Just People Getting Killed in Gross Ways V: The Grossening, then you'll probably like it. If you prefer vistas of lambs prancing in the sunny Scottish Highlands or you get a kick out of the laughter of children, I'd watch something else.


What's good about The Following?

Atmosphere is key to a psychological murder thriller like this, and The Following is legit creepy; it even has people walking around in the dark with flashlights and stuff. There are moments when the camera does a great job of defining a character, like when we first meet Hardy. And the idea that Carroll's cult of followers can stand in as the case-of-the-week subjects is a great way to give longevity to a show that's really about a serial killer playing games with an FBI agent. Purefoy is pretty intense as Carroll. Plus Natalie Zea (Justified) is in this and she's really pretty.



What's bad about it?

Okay, exactly who is so convincing that he can build an armada of murderers via the World Wide Web who do what he says, particularly when that "what" is KILLING OTHER PEOPLE? It's the core premise of the show, and it's also entirely ridiculous. The pilot includes several concept-defining moments that require huge leaps of logic, and no one in their right mind can jump that high. The show flaunts Carroll's obsession with Edgar Allen Poe like it's found some genius angle, but nope, sorry, it's just silly and cliched. And the violence is mostly mindless, with nothing much to say about anything.


What's the final verdict on The Following then?

Look, people are going to be split on this one. The Following has the spooks and gore to distinguish itself from the rest of network TV, but from what I've seen, it's not actually good television. If the series had more to say than, "Hey look what our makeup department can do!" it might be worth watching. But until it does, it's just senseless violence for shock value.


Do you have a trailer so I can see for myself?

BAM!


What drink should I pair with The Following?

Bloody Marys. Ha, I kid. Those should be consumed before 8am only. Fill some water bottles with vodka and chug, just like Det. Hardy does.


The Following premieres Monday, January 21 at 9pm on Fox.

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  • scribbledpink Jan 21, 2013

    Discovery ID is an entire channel devoted to murder and mayhem. Hell yes, I'm watching this. Bring on the ice picks.

  • TracyTrouble Jan 21, 2013

    quoteOkay, exactly who is so convincing that he can build an armada of murderers via the World Wide Web who do what he says, particularly when that "what" is KILLING OTHER PEOPLE?/quote One name here - CHARLES MANSON. Imagine that kook having the internet around in his time - he *would* be Carroll. Scary, but true - think about it.

  • Marburg66 Jan 21, 2013

    Think about this as well: The cult of personality and myth that surrounds Charles Manson is horribly, horribly overblown & unjustifiable. If the internet had existed in the 60's like it does today, odds are, the 'Manson Family' would never have existed either in the first place. His posts would be trolled relentlessly & his site would probably have been DOS'ed out of existence long before he even got around to mentioning the Helter Skelter War

  • TracyTrouble Jan 22, 2013

    Ah, but what you're missing is the fact that Manson, and people like him, tend to prey on the weak. For every troll there would've been another person who thought he was right and followed along; it's *those* he would've concentrated on, not the trolls. Besides, once a few band together it's a lot harder to get at them as they attack you en masse. I've seen this on websites with forums as varied as ones about atheism to ones about politics and even the NHS. Besides Charles Manson did what he did best, manipulated others into doing what *he* wanted. I think with access to the internet he'd be just like Carroll. As for Carroll, he's just doing the same - manipulating others into doing what *he* wants; it's just they're too weak and easily led to see it. However, it's nice to see a different take on whether this whole scenario is possible.

  • Marburg66 Jan 22, 2013

    Actually, I didn't miss that fact at all. I wholeheartedly agree with ya that Manson preyed on the weak. What I was attempting to zero in on is the Manson myth itself. Realistically, there's no way he could have done what he's famous for over the net. the number of people in the Manson Family at its height was about 50 runaways & vagrants enamored with living a communal, off-the-grid hippie lifestyle...& the vast majority of those simply couldn't care less of the Helter Skelter he was preaching on the Sphan. The extremely tiny few that he was able to manipulate into subscribing into his delusions was due to a constant stream acid, sex and isolation from the outside world. Isolation being key. In truth, the only thing Manson was truly good at was songwriting. If Manson started spouting over the net that the Beatles told him to start a race war by speaking to him directly through The White Album, he'd have been laughed into oblivion with a steady stream of lolcat pics from around the world.

  • TracyTrouble Jan 22, 2013

    Sorry, should've mentioned that Manson did what he did and there's no escaping that. He got his 'followers' to kill people - that is not overblown or a myth. Carroll is the same, just with access to even more weak personalities.

  • TracyTrouble Jan 21, 2013

    Sorry, should've added I will definitely be watching it.

  • GarthDanicich Jan 21, 2013

    The concept may be silly, but how is "serial killer who influences people to be serial killers via the internet" cliche?

  • Vicky8675309 Jan 21, 2013

    "fan of deranged serial killer movies like Silence of the Lambs..."

    "Silence of the Lambs" per Wikipedia:
    The film was the third film to win Academy Awards in all the top five categories: Best Picture, Best Actress, Best Actor, Best Director and Best Writing (Adapted Screenplay). It is also the first Best Picture winner widely considered to be a horror film, and only the second such film to be nominated in the category, after The Exorcist in 1973. The film is considered "culturally, historically or aesthetically" significant by the U.S. Library of Congress and was selected to be preserved in the National Film Registry in 2011.


    sounds like a huge respected fan base

  • TracyTrouble Jan 22, 2013

    I get the impression that the Tim Surette is *not* a fan of this type of show. However that does make me wonder why he was the one that wrote the article. It'd be like me, who *loathes* pink, being asked to write a review about a new pink and fluffy laptop bag - it wouldn't be unbiased (much like the article) and it certainly wouldn't end well.......

  • GarthDanicich Jan 21, 2013

    It's still a movie about a deranged serial killer.

  • Vicky8675309 Jan 21, 2013

    with a huge respected fan base.

    I don't get your point~obviously it's a movie about a serial killer. It doesn't matter if Tim is calling the killer deranged or the movie deranged, it is still an excellent movie which received numerous accolades and awards. It has a huge fan base.

    The Following may or may not suck but just because you like or dislike one movie doesn't mean you will like or won't like this show.

  • GarthDanicich Jan 22, 2013

    My point is that all he's doing is making a simple suggestion. The article is about whether you should watch the show and he's suggesting that people who like movies/shows about serial killers might like it. I don't know why you're inferring that he's looking down at Silence of the Lambs; it's a perfect comparison. Silence of the Lambs is about an incarcerated serial killer who influences another serial killer. The Following is about an incarcerated killer who influences many serial killers.

    Gee, I wonder why someone would connect the two...

  • Vicky8675309 Jan 22, 2013

    You say "Silence of the Lambs is about an incarcerated serial killer who influences another serial killer. The Following is about an incarcerated killer who influences many serial killers." but Tim says it's unbelievable that a serial killer influences others to kill for him. Obviously fans of Silence of the Lambs and those who gave the accolades and awards disagree

  • qbe_64 Jan 21, 2013

    I wonder if television credits count against an actors Bacon number?

  • WhoIzAchay Jan 21, 2013

    I had already decided that I would give this show a try, based on the trailer and regardless of what people had to say about it. Kevin Bacon, Natalie Zea I'm There.

  • Tvteen Jan 21, 2013

    It is violent but that's because it's about serial killers but it is a strong show and it is turning into must-watch show

  • current Jan 21, 2013

    Is it just me; or does it seem odd/annoying that the excellent James Purefoy gets a footnote, "Oh, by the by he's pretty intense"? He's a very well respected actor AND is the shows' main bad guy. Silence of the Lambs, for example, wasn't promoted/reviewed as Jodie Foster American sweetheart etc. etc. and some quite intense guy you may or not know! It's doubtful Natalie Zea would appreciate just, she's a pretty chick who was in one other thing!
    There's not even a link to Purefoy.
    This review would be more balanced and less patronizing to the reader if it actually offered more insight into the skills and weight of the actors in the drama and not just superficial nonsense - though entertaining in doses. Or was that the point, let's dumb it down because you found the show just that?
    I look forward to your sycophantic interview with the stars -should they deign themselves!!

  • AssandroJourn Jan 21, 2013

    Serial killer, a former literary professor? What? Beyond ridiculous. And Im having hard time embracing all that "serial killer as anti-hero thing" since Hannibal Lector has entered the stage. I can't say I enjoyed it. I like serial killers to be hounded like rats and to be executed or putting in solitary for life. I don't understand america's fascination with serial killers.

    One serial killer with obnoxious background is not enough, let's multiply him via Facebook! What a great idea... not. After Sandy Hook I don't have that much desire to watch this violent show. Only presence of Natalie Zea may entice me to watch a pilot. But she should have stayed on Californication (I liked her role there).
    Other than that this show is looking pretty obnoxious. Edgar Allan Poe as inspiration for murders. What a novelty! Poor Poe. And why should serial killer kill women in brutal ways all the time? Why not only men? TV male producers are suffering from emasculation?

  • kanniballl Jan 21, 2013

    I think you are confusing serial killers with spree killers and those that just go on a rampage. Both should suffer in hell, and I don't blame anyone for wanting to avoid violence lately... especially with everything that's happened. But some people fail to make the distinction.

    The Sandy Hook / Columbine / Aurora d-bags were NOT serial killers. Serial Killers are a completely separate group: as they follow very specific criteria. Namely their methods, how there is a cool-down period in between how they select their individual victims, the signature they leave behind. They usually have interesting + complex psych profiles (creepy, but interesting).

    It's not uncommon for serial killers to be quite intelligent and thus hold respectable jobs or backgrounds.

    Spree killers and the like... can be anybody just "snapping" one day and decide to go all Rambo. Just about anyone can get a gun, kill 2+ people, and be labeled a spree killer.

    Both deserve to go to hell though.

  • AssandroJourn Jan 21, 2013

    I understand difference between spree and serial killers. I wasn't talking about mass shooters in particular. Im not saying that serial killers and violence on tv shouldn't exist. I have no problem with violence in movies and tv shows. I was saying that all "serial killer as anti-hero, as someone who attracts viewer's simpathy thing" is wrong and I'd prefer fictional serial killers being portrayed with complexity but non-sympathetic. Coz sympathy towards serial killers is causing viewers to be fascinated with them in unhealthy way.

  • Vicky8675309 Jan 21, 2013

    I like Dexter as a show and a character but wouldn't want to know him in real life and would find him guilty if I was on the jury and he was up for his crimes. I have never murdered anyone and don't plan to even though I am fascinated with Dexter. On the other hand I did not like Natural Born Killers.

    I think women wrote love letters to serial killers long before Dexter or other tv shows/movies portrayed serial killers as "anti-heroes". There have always been homicidal/"bad" people and nut jobs who "love' them (or idolize them). I doubt tv has changed it much.

    I remember in College going to a White Zombie concert and seeing a lot of people with cards of serial killers around their neck and thinking what idiots they were but I wasn't scared of them. I just thought they were stupid uninformed kids trying to look cool but were unsuccessful imo. I found it offensive and figured that is probably what they were going for and then just ignored them a watched the band. Maybe I was in a pack of serial killers and just lucked out or maybe I was just in a group of people trying to express themselves or look cool or be anti-establishment or make a statement (I didn't care enough about it to find out)

  • Vicky8675309 Jan 22, 2013

    @TracyTrouble
    I agree with your post, especially the "it's amazing to me however, that modern society thinks the world was just wonderful, bland and innocent until movies and tv arrived."
    did everyone forget about the crusades, the spanish inquisition, the social injustice towards women/children/non-predominant culture males...child labor laws came into place for a reason.
    Remember Jack the Ripper
    Remember the romans (had crowds cheers as animals raped women and killed men & women; also the gladiators killing for sport)...the list goes on and on.

  • AssandroJourn Jan 22, 2013

    There've been obviously crazy people who wrote to serial killers long before Hannibal Lector entered the stage of pop-culture. But after Silence of lambs serial killers became mainstream, element of pop culture. And even if there have been no movies glorifying serial killers prior to Silence of Lambs there was media who covered all those high-profile serial killings with great details. The extension is there nowadays. I just saying there is no moral ambivalence about serial killer.

  • TracyTrouble Jan 22, 2013

    George Joseph Smith was was hung for murdering his (bigamously married) wives in a bath. He died in *1915* - he too had 'groupies'; women would flock to the court and coo and giggle over him, even after hearing how he murdered his poor victims. Some even wrote letters to him. So you're absolutely right; it's amazing to me however, that modern society thinks the world was just wonderful, bland and innocent until movies and tv arrived.

  • Vicky8675309 Jan 21, 2013

    I agree with your post and think both serial killers and spree killers should die. However, while they do horrible acts, they do make interesting characters in movies and shows. One doesn't have to admire or like someone/something to find them/it interesting. I hate murderers and crime in general but like watching it on tv.

  • kanniballl Jan 21, 2013

    I agree, serial killer antagonists can make for compelling TV. And on the flip-side, Dexter is/was a solid show.

    But, after everything, I can't blame someone for hating the concept. I've heard solid arguments from people that feel that glamorizing killers is part of what leads to... well... psycho kids wanting to go out in a blaze of glory... thinking we'll idolize them.

    Personally, I blame the news media more than fictional TV. 24-48 hours after the Sandy Hook incident I knew more about the shooter than I do the celebrities and politicians that I actually CARE about. I see THAT as being more behind the "I'll be immortalized" bit than Dexter's ratings.

  • AssandroJourn Jan 22, 2013

    No one is saying movies are to blame for real violence. Availability of guns are to blame obviously. But surely media is the one who glorifies all that high-profile serial killings describing it with great detail and drooling. It's a fact that most school shooters knew about Columbine and it influenced their actions in some ways. And media fascination with serial killers can be traced from 60s. But all im saying that premise of the show - sympathetic sofisticated serial killer as anti-hero is a cliche, that've been done many times before. So producers add some more brutally murdered female bodies for shock value and facebook serial killer's followers who kill on Anti-hero's orders. It's just lazy stuff, there can be no moral ambiguity about serial killer, even sofisticated one.

  • Vicky8675309 Jan 21, 2013

    agree but I think it's a stretch to say glamorizing killers will cause someone to kill (not that you are saying it). It may be one of many factors but not the only factor. I don't want more government regulation of movies/tv and I don't think it is a Direct cause & effect (glamorization of killers leads to more killers). It may (emphasis on "may") be one of many factors. I still remember when they said heavy metal music made people commit suicide~~so stupid and goes against all business sense~~die Tipper Gore die (not really, lol)

    I did not like Natural Born Killers but loved seven, saw, silence of the lambs and all the evil dead movies...

    I hated junior high school (and high school) and watched horror films but never murdered anyone. Life is to complicated to have just one direct cause/effect variable.

    I no longer watch the news on tv--to biased, to filtered, to negative, to much spin...and many more reasons. Also, I think subconsciously the news/media on tv brings back traumatic feelings from 9/11 so I avoid news on tv since it makes me sad/angry~~there is probably some unconscious sh*t I need to work through but I'll probably avoid it since it doesn't interfere with my life.

    Do you think the Sandy Hook killer wanted to be immortalized? I just read a bit about it after it happened and thought what a f*ck up loser to kill a bunch of innocent & defenseless children. Who would want to be remembered as the weak ass punk who killed kids~~even "regular" killers don't respect kid killers. I did't follow the story long so I don't know the motivations behind the killing other then his mother was strict and had an issue with the school (not sure since I only read on line about it the day after it happened)

  • kanniballl Jan 21, 2013

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  • Marburg66 Jan 21, 2013

    I'm specifically curious about how having a serial killer with a professional literary background is 'beyond ridiculous'
    Could you expand on that please?

  • AssandroJourn Jan 21, 2013

    Coz it's highly implausible. It's like Edgar Allan Poe goes insane and starts killing. It's too beyond even suspense of disbelief. Show just trying too hard to be unusual and creative. And I'm not even talking about Facebook bred serial killers followers.

  • Marburg66 Jan 21, 2013

    But how is it highly implausible? I can't follow the logic of your example. I'm honestly not trying to pick on you, I'm simply curious how you come to that conclusion since there's nothing about the literary profession in any of its forms that would somehow exempt the possibility of a serial killer making a living within it. Could you be more specific please?

  • Marburg66 Jan 22, 2013

    So what I'm getting from you is that you're under the impression that someone smart enough to be a professor is somehow smart enough to not be a killer? Is that what you mean?
    Don't get me wrong, I understand you don't like the saturation of serial killer fandom in pop culture. It just simply seems that your bias is blinding you to the simple fact that killers come in all shapes, sizes & intellects.

  • AssandroJourn Jan 22, 2013

    Coz there is statistics about literary professors who became serial killers. I know none. And if there is it's still ridiculous attempt to make out of serial killer an intelligent sofisticated art-loving guy whose morals are ambivalent coz he got brains. It's laughable cliche since Hannibal Lector. It's a tool to attract viewer's sympathy and justify his killings.

  • kanniballl Jan 21, 2013

    Agreed. That's what's hanging me up about the grandparent post. And why I thought he misunderstood the concept.

    Anybody can be anything: a priest CAN be a murderer or worse. A doctor CAN be a killer. A convicted criminal CAN legitimately turn to a life of religion and seek redemption. etc.

    Why is it hard to believe a literary professor would become a killer?

  • kanniballl Jan 21, 2013

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  • kanniballl Jan 21, 2013

    Actually it's not beyond believe. It's common for Serial killers (SERIAL killers, not spree killers) to be quite intelligent, have high-intelligence jobs, and be successful. There are typically 2 kinds: Organized and Disorganized. The Organized types tend to be well above average intelligence.

    Sure, any "Bubba Sixpack" from the trailer park can be a spree killer or a multiple murder. It doesn't take much planning to pull a Sandy Hook or whatever.

    But for a serial killer, it CAN take a lot of thought or planning. After all, to just qualify as a serial you have to kill 3+ separate times with a cool-down period in between. You have to be methodical with each kill. etc. More often than not, to make it that far (with today's forensics) you have to be smarter than the average bear.

    Sure, it could also be an average psycho that got lucky 3+ times in a row. But sometimes, it's someone quite crafty.

    Now, if you want to argue that it's highly implausible for this SHOW's premise (a serial killer than has attracted an army of fledgling killers) then I won't argue there. That's a bit far fetched.

  • TracyTrouble Jan 22, 2013

    Exactly. Look at John Wayne Gacy for an example. No one really suspected him for years, despite him being arrested and jailed for a sexual offence and also being psychiatrically assessed as having an 'antisocial personality disorder'. The man ended up as a pillar of the community in his new town, politically active and actually dressed up as a CLOWN who performed at hospitals, etc for kids. He was actually called the 'killer clown' after his arrest because of that 'act'. He met Jimmy Carter's wife when Carter was president; and was even *cleared* by the *secret service* as being safe to do so. So I think *anyone*, *anywhere* can be a murderer - it just takes the right mindset and/or the right trigger....

  • kanniballl Jan 21, 2013

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  • marioni211 Jan 21, 2013

    Tim, the way you describe it, actually sounds like a bad show. I'll do the usual - watch the pilot, and if it sucks, it's out.

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