The Following Series Premiere Review: A Poe Excuse for a Serial-killer Drama

The Following S01E01: "Pilot"

Nothing good can come from a show that starts off with the opening chords of Marilyn Manson's grim and gothed remake of "Sweet Dreams," the anthem of teenage Hot Topic shoppers everywhere and a soundtrack staple for torture-porn movies and anything else that's trying to say, "Hey you, tortured soul, this is gonna be so creepy!" But that's the tone that was set by the debut of Fox's new drama The Following, network television's witless answer to gritty cable dramas that do it a lot better. But hey, if you enjoy carefully mixed corn syrup and red dye, then great, enjoy the show!

The basic premise follows former FBI agent Ryan Hardy (Kevin Bacon, smearing his six-degrees-in-a-lead-role all over your television for the first time) on the hunt for a serial killer named Joe Carroll (Rome's James Purefoy), who Hardy once put away in the big house. See, the pilot started with Carroll springing himself from prison by slicing the throats of some prison guards and narrowly escaping the six-inch perimeter laid out after the jail bosses figured out what happened. And while Carroll was in prison, he spent a lot of time on the computer in the prison library as a Charlie Manson with Chat Roulette. Except instead of dangling his wang out, he recruited impressionable sickos through the intertubes (on Tumblr, with the hashtag #aspiringmurderers? Via www.soyouwannabeaserialkiller.biz?) to follow his teachings of the beauty to be found in death, as inspired by his idol, Edgar Allen Poe. As we learned at the end of the episode, Carroll had been planning this big break from prison all along, and he elaborately put his new acolytes in motion years ago, instructing them to pose as a gay couple and a nanny so they'd be in a position to kill the one girl who got away and kidnap Carroll's son.

What. The. Fuck. ?.

The black cop said it best after finding the dead cop and the bloody tag that read "Nevermore," in a scene that came halfway through the pilot: "I'm not buying two men would pretend to be gay and shack up next to a woman because some nutjob told them to."

That was the only time the episode even dabbled in admitting how ludicrous The Following's premise is, and I didn't buy it either, but in the world of the show, preposterous logic isn't sold, it's practically given away in Costco-sized chunks. The series portrays Carroll's followers as people who simply joined his cult, without ever going into detail as to why. The only explanations we've gotten so far are "He used the Internet" and "He had a lot of blogs," with the show hoping we're all fine with the idea before changing the subject with scenes of expired, eyeless babes. But the coolest part of a show about a cult is seeing the seduction of the idiots who are willing to join, and because none of us are stupid enough to join a cult ourselves, it's important for The Following to show us how Carroll managed to sucker people into faking gay and killing themselves with sharp objects. No matter how sexy a British accent can be or how handsome a professional murderer is, we, as an audience, need a look at exactly how this guy was able to pull off such a feat. I can barely get my wife to do what I want, and she's bound to do those things by law! Wives, amirite? (*crotch scratch* *man grunt*) Anyway, the fact that none of this was addressed early on left a lingering doubt that was difficult to shake. Perhaps we'll get more info later on, or perhaps we're just supposed to believe in the power of Purefoy.

It's also shocking to see that series creator Kevin Williamson, who wrote the clever and astutely self-aware horror film Scream, would fill The Following with the same horror clichés he spoofed before. Hardy's the alcoholic FBI agent pulled back in to the job. Moments of silence telegraph something jumping out at you, spoiling the shock. The baby-faced folks who you least expect are the most guilty. And worst of all, the charismatic serial killer is himself a student of a literary figure. The idea of the self-righteous, intelligent, and artistic serial killer is old and worn, and in Carroll we have pieces of film's most famous mass murderers rubber-cemented together to create a character so familiar that he's uninteresting.

But the Edgar Allen Poe stuff might be The Following's biggest crime, as it tries to bring deep meaning to the show's master of terror. Hardy at one point screams, "Nevermore! The Raven! Poe is symbolizing the finality of death!" as if we're supposed to go, "Ahhhhh!" It's a poor attempt to validate the gruesome acts and stupid excerpts written on the skin of victims. But just to make sure we know Carroll is well-versed in Poe, The Following drops Poe quotes at every opportunity until you can't fucking stand him, the poor guy. Painting "Nevermore" on the wall with a victim's innards does what, exactly? Shows that Carroll once read "The Raven"? Come on, TV serial killers, you can do better than that.

Feel free to skip this paragraph because I'm gonna whine about serial killers for a second. I've always thought there's an inherent problem with serial killers in television. Good TV villains have clear intent and purpose behind their actions, enough to even earn some sense of compassion or at least understanding from the audience. Gus Fring was protecting his business. Ben Linus wanted to protect the island. The Governor has been reborn in a seat of power and wants to keep it. You hate the guy, but at least you know why he does what he does. TV serial killers are demented people who kill for their own perversion, and it's hard for us to understand that. (Note: If it's NOT hard for you to understand that, please twisty-tie your hands together and turn yourself into the police.) In television, an adversary that does "it" just because he's insane simply isn't as sexy or sustainable as someone with legitimate motivation. That's why most senseless crazies are reserved for henchmen roles, where they belong and work well, while the real big bad is a man with purpose. From what I can tell, Carroll is only doing all of this because he feels like it. He's a twisted weirdo with no morals. The Following's message is "Carroll bad! Hardy good!" Things are as black and white as a zebra and all the complexity is saved for figuring out how exactly Carroll was able to convince regular people to commit murder for him. (One-note deranged serial killers can work in movies, because the case is closed after 90 minutes. Manhunter is a great example of this. But television is a different beast.)

But what of the violence and gore? That's all people seem to want to talk about with this show. It would be hypocritical of me to say the violence and gore in The Following is too much, given that my DVR is loaded with Sons of Anarchy, The Walking Dead, and American Horror Story. I don't have a problem with the violence in The Following as much as other reviewers do, and after some deliberation, I think it's at least partially relevant to the story being told. While the other shows I mentioned use violence to set a tone and illustrate what characters must do to survive, The Following uses its violence to show us just how bad of a dude Carroll is. I understand that. But how long will it be until the message is just repetitive? It's not that the violence in The Following is any worse than Jax shooting someone execution-style in Sons of Anarchy, it's that the intentions behind it are different, and this goes back to serial killers on television. Jax is protecting his turf or getting revenge. Carroll is just being an asshole. He's not doing it to survive or to build an empire or to win the Iron Throne, and that's why some people are decrying this purposeless violence over the slashings and shootings of other shows. But more importantly, I think when a show itself isn't that good, the violence in it just looks ugly and sticks out.

And I think that's okay with Williamson and Fox because blood and gore is all the show wants anyway. How else would you explain the nonsensical premise and the Poe-verdoses of literary mumbo-jumbo? The pilot stitched together a story whose only job was to keep Hardy one step behind Carroll so he stumbled upon well-prepared murder scene after well-prepared murder scene, and I bet you a million dollars that future episodes of this baseless shockfest will be pretty much the same.

NEVERMORE INDEED.



NOTES

– I'll give credit where credit's due for part of Williamson's idea. By creating a cult of serial killers that takes orders from one serial killer, he's found a way to add longevity to a show about a serial killer. There's also the chance that anyone at any time can be revealed as a disciple of Carroll's, and you can bet your ass that a few of Hardy's coworkers have copies of Poe's work on their nightstands. That will probably make for the most interesting part of the show.

– Just a reminder that part of Bacon's stipulation to star on a TV series was to keep seasons of The Killing to a maximum of 15 episodes per season.

– I know the reviews out there are mixed, so there's clearly entertainment value here for a lot of people, and the show could become a hit.

– This idea of "sleeper serial killers" rips off the idea of undercover terrorist cells, where it works.

– So Hardy saw a picture of the gay couple in front of a lighthouse bed and breakfast, tied it to some of Poe's unfinished work, Google-mapped it, and found out where Carroll was hiding? Sure, okay. Hey Carroll, if you want to be caught, why not just send him a text message with your location?

– One lesson I learned: If I ever butcher a lot of dogs as practice for becoming a serial killer, the "Lost Dog" flyers make for good and very incriminating wallpaper.

– Will someone please find a show for Maggie Grace? And will someone please get Natalie Zea off this one?

– The drama between the nanny and the "gay" dudes has the potential for limitless accidental comedy (and trust me, it's there in Episode 2).

– If you want to see Fox use Edgar Allen Poe to good use, please check out this clip from The Simpsons.



Follow TV.com writer Tim Surette on Twitter: @TimAtTVDotCom

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haha, so true..i dvr this show now to watch as a comedy,. its beyond funny. if you've seen up to this far (ep 8) youll see what im talking about. i literally dropped my fork while eating during the episode from laughing so hard. only in America would this show last. this story might have worked in the 50's, but in todays time, this guy would be caught in hours. this show is soooo funny...im pretty sure you have to be a least sorta-a little- tiny bit little to work at the FBI? hahahha
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Ohhhhh Poe....how fascinating! This review is spot on!
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"It's not that the violence in The Following is any worse than Jax shooting someone execution-style in Sons of Anarchy, it's that the intentions behind it are different, and this goes back to serial killers on television. Jax is protecting his turf or getting revenge." - REALLY?! the worst comparison ever... SOA has become one of the worst american shows I can imagine... there is no longer any justifications behind Jax's actions other than he is a 100% american red-neck and that the show has learned that it can shove anything down it's audience throat because they take it easily enough
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I had recorded the Pilot and didn't watch until later last week so I didn't read this until now (after watching ep.2). Have to say I agree with the review. I see some positives (creepy show) but these guys better get into over drive to give viewers a reason to care about any of these characters or understand why they're (the cultists) so under the sway of Carroll.

Making this show entirely about the works of Poe, ain't gonna work, writing "Nevermore" all over the place doesn't qualify as Poe even if it's one of the few lines and stories of AEP's that most viewers actually know.
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Pretty spot-on critic here, my wife and I both had the "what did the writers put in their system?" look on our faces after watching this show. Abysmal writing, with just enough violence and dead puppies to make you swallow the pills.
Funny thing is, it does fill some kind of empty space in "the things I want to see at any given time", so, 3 episode test it is.
But seriously, I can smell the pre-teen-twilight-serial-killer-triangle with the 3 far too good-looking killers at the end coming for a light year away....
Take an average American woman for a change, and that's not it.
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To illustrate my point: TV Fanatic headlines - "A Murderous Masterpiece"
January 21st, 2013 10:00 PM by Matt Richenthal:

His Conclusion: "It's fun, it's different, it's freaky and, come on, it stars Kevin Bacon. I am all in. What did everyone else think?"

Just goes to show - some people 'get it' while others are incapable - hey Tim?



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Pretentious dribble from a pseudo intellectual 'reviewer'. The viewers will decide not cynical ill-educated critics.
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Right you are. The viewers WILL decide and if it doesn't clean up some of it's slop this viewer will be tuning out soon, along with scads of others. 2 episodes in and I have zero investment in any of the characters other than Maggie Grace who was unceremoniously knocked off in the Pilot. Maybe she knew something and only signed up for a cameo gig. Hope it improves.
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Oddly enough, I feel the show has promise. I went out of my way to avoid this show being on my radar, and yet somehow ended up recording it anyway and giving it a go. I thought it was solid. Sure, it had cliches of a horror film, and they clearly took some liberties with how they got from point A to point B, but seeing as they were attempting to cover a lot of ground in less than an hour, I thought they did pretty good.
-See, I actually like this serial killer. Is he a cliche? Of course, but what isn't at this point? See, I like the fact that we've grown so accustom to complex villains with so many layers that we find reasons to sympathize with this presumably horrible person. That is done so much now. That is pretty much every villain currently on television at this point. So it is actually refreshing that this guy is just pure evil. No, " i had a horrible childhood" or "I wasn't hugged enough" or I'm filling emotional voids, no he's just bat sh*t crazy, pure evil, with a lust for blood and gore. Unapologetically taking lives. I can get behind that. He's charming, has the sexy British accent, and looks good, he's highly intelligent, and has a way with words. He's perfect for being the leader of his own cult, and it's reasonable to believe that he can convince weak-minded individuals who are screwed up on their own accord to follow him.
-I think this was a solid pilot. I mean it is in fact a pilot, so I wasn't expecting to see but so much unfold. Now if we don't get a better grasp on how this cult came to be and see this guy in action etc and it's just sort of glossed over, then I'm all for agreeing with those critiques.
-They did spoon feed us the Poe stuff. A little overdone. We get it, no need to drill it in so hard. I don't know if it makes me sad or makes me intrigued that the pilot to this show had more profiling in it then the last season of Criminal Minds :(
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I think I fell asleep watching this. Because even between the Bacon and James Purefoy beckoning me, couldn't handle it. Love in the don't miss right above this box is Caesar himself.
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Just watched the episode had it on the dvr for a while because I always have a tough time getting into a new show to start with. Tim your review was a bit harsh but had some merit. The cliché’s were all there and this looked a lot like Se7en with the dark imagery and brutal murders. But I will give the show the old 3 episode test and see how the next few ones shape up. Thankfully someone tipped me off to the animal violence and when I sensed it coming I quickly fast-forward because I HATE animal violence and when shows or movies do it to get a shock out of the viewers I think it’s cheap. The actress playing the other cop was awful don’t know her name but it was really bad acting and hopefully she won't be on the show for long. I'm going to give it a fair chance because the concept is interesting to me and Fringe just left us so why not. Plus Kevin Bacon is the man
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I'm really astonished Tim. I can't believe you shower some shows with such praises and completely bulldoze others.
You haven't given this show a chance because you don't like the premise, and in doing so, you've nitpicked everything shown on the episode! I don't think that is neutral reviewing.
I'm sorry, but I'm done with all your reviews!
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I don't know. I think he made some valid points. It WAS hard to believe that people would go to these extremes because they were told (stabbing yourself in the EYE????) and it DID feel very cliche. Don't get me wrong - I will keep watching because a) I like the leads, b) I like the premise and c) I always expect the first couple of eps (if not the whole first season of a show) to be a little 'shaky'. I think it has potential though. We'll see.
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Well the thing is, as I replied to someone else's comment, the thing with serial killers and their groupies - isn't it that death fascinates them, and they find it poetic/beautiful, and consider taking their own lives as the ultimate offering to whoever they worship (as in the case of ice pick lady).
Plus, I think we have seen enough madness in this world where it is possible to have copycats and where people do worship serial killers and want to follow them ....
The entire premise of the show fits in with the twisted/delusional mind of murderers such as those depicted in the show.
Haven't many serial killers said they heard voices that told them to do so ... therefore twisted and delusional, and they are willing to go to any lengths in pursuit of and hunting their victims ...
Keeping in mind that there are people in this world, delusional enough to have twisted minds like these is, in my opinion, enough to justify why the ice pick lady did that to herself ... in her mind it was perhaps a 'noble sacrifice' or offering to her master!

Didn't mean to ramble!
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You haven't rambled. in fact you make a good point. There are some crazy people out there that do some extremely crazy things. so maybe icepick lady isn't that far-fetched after all. I know I might have been a bit too critical but I really do think (hope?) the show has potential. :-)
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Yes, I too hope they make a well rounded show.
You know what else I really liked about the first episode ... it was well paced, the editing was great and it felt like I was watching a movie or a thriller... pretty cool! :)
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I'm just sad that it's on FOX. Shows don't last very long here. The last time a one hour drama got renewed for a second season was 5 years ago, when they renewed "Fringe" (I'm not counting "Touch" because it only had a few episodes last year). I'm positive "The Following" won't even get a chance to show us what it's got before...poof...it's gone.
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Well I thought The Following's pilot was pretty good - all we can do is hope for the best!
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i agree with everything you said Tim. boring and utterly predictable. kevin bacon would be better as a footloose style dance intructor
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All I can say is that The Following has saved Mondays!!!!
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terrible acting, graphic brutality, not much to watch. try something else!
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What can I say? I enjoyed this episode...
That being said, I completely understand that the show is full of issues, but I was entertained enough that I will continue to watch it, at least for another week or two. I have hope for a show with serial killers + James Purefoy.
Maybe I'm just an optimist.
Or maybe I'm just hoping for something to fill the loss of Fringe.
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So it was kind of entertaining but yep, full of cliches and overacting and loud music in the places we had to worry... Full of pilotitis perhaps? I think it's worth waiting to see how it develops as it may be interesting - granted only if one is able to accept the slightly crazy premise...

For me the worst is that Purefoy played a ridiculous character in Revenge as a (truly awful) painter and lover of Victoria so now I can't really take him seriously as a serial killer and inspirational leader...
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I won't be as negative as you, Tim about the pilot of this new TV show.
It's classic, full of clichés ; but, as for the plot, I'm not sure it's as silly as it is.
Afterall, historically, there has been followers of tyrants : just look at the teenagers who were forced into the Nazi ideology. They did despicable things in the name of Hitler. I know, it's not on the same scale (fortunately!) here but we can find examples also in many sects around the world... Question is : how did he do it ? Because, in all the examples that come to mind, the tyrant needed to be present for his influence to have an effect. The cult of personnality does exist.
I will keep watching this : not because it's good (for that, I watch, Game of Thrones, Sons of Anarchy and a few UK shows like Life on Mars, Mad Dogs, The Hour), not because it original (for that, I watch Game of Thrones etc.) but because the actors are not too bad for an average american TV Show, the plot is simple... Perfect after spending hours working !
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The cult of personality does exist but u can understand that the Hitler youth did what they did because of the propaganda about Jewish people being to blame for all their problems. What on earth did Caroll say to make that woman
Stab HERSELF in the EYE?
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I completely agree with you on this one ! But, if you look at sects, gurus make people do strange things : massive suicides for example ; it doesn't make the plot of the Following more coherent... We'll have to wait and see if there is an explanation : maybe subluminal signals in the websites the followers visited ? Sorry I'm a Star Trek fan ;-)
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You should NEVER have to apologise for being a Trekie! Star Trek is brilliant. :-)
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Tim, as a literary person, I can see why you had issues with the "Poe" thing. However, it wasn't that big of a deal to me (and definitely not the biggest leap any show has every asked it's audience to take). I enjoyed it, thought it was well made and well-acted for the most part and it intrigued me enough to keep watching for now.
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Again, a very, very on-point review by Tim. Agree on everything, and just want to add - never considered Bacon an actor, not to speak about a good actor. This character just proves how greatly untalented he is (well, maybe not as much as Steven Seagal, but anyway). Not going to watch this crap.
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Glad I didn't read this negative review before I watched the episode. It's actually very entertaining and I loved the short flashbacks to immediately establish a backstory. I'm a Purefoy fan so I'm hoping to see more of him in the coming episodes.
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Do you eat with the same mouth you review with?
How old are you? Sounds like a kiddie review from an ignorant reviewer.
I would not believe a word you say.
Grow up!
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This is something this writer has done on more than one occasion on different shows, honestly I don't know why anyone would hire this hack as a critic. His reasoning behind his negative reviews are unintelligible, just like his writing. More often than not he gets the facts wrong and even his telling of the events in the episode are wrong which leads one to believe that he had the episode on tv in the background as he was doing something else. I think that he, like some people, does not actually watch tv shows, they look at them and some have a pen and paper to write down every little nitpick that they can bitch about
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An accurate assessment succinctly put.
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"Just a reminder that part of Bacon's stipulation to star on a TV series was to keep seasons of The Killing to a maximum of 15 episodes per season"
The Killing? seriously?, shouldn't it be The Following?
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Sadly pilot wasn't good. It was half-baked with tons of cliches. Writer Poe as an excuse for pathetic killings. He's probably turning over in his grave right now. Insanity as art? WTF? It was the most laziest half-made serial killer spitting buncha crap with Poe name in it on tv ever. I guess he was bad literary teacher but appears to be succesful serial killer in the end considering number of dead female bodies with bloody eye sockets.
Characters aren't compelling enough to sit through another hour of this mess for me. They are just buncha stereotypes with fatigued Kevin Bacon whose face says it all (WTF am I doing here?)

Omnipotent serial killer with charm of Wall Street broker who misunderstood Edgar Allan Poe in a big way and who has Jim Jones magical influence on his hollow cartoonish followers? What a blast of boredom, people. And we have no explanation of all of it. We just have to embrace it coz it's new FOX serial killer gorefest show.
I can't foresee any improvements with so many cliches in one pilot. I just can't. I wish. It's just medium Chicago Fire-like show about powerful as Mickey Mouse serial killer.
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Now that the episode has aired, what do you think Poe would say if he were alive today?

"HELP! SOMEONE LET ME OUTTA THIS BOX! I CAN'T BREATHE!!"
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I found the show incredibly entertaining. Once again Williamson successfully killed a character and made it sting. I can't say the gay dudes and the nanny were that far fetched. In the theme of doing retarded things for people we idolize, reality often has proven that people are crazy.
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I can agree only about Poe. The show doesn't need it. Other things - I'm fine with them. Yes, a lonely drunk FBI agent is a cliche, but a good one. One of my favourites!
I love eevrything Natalie Zea does, miss her like hell in Justified, so she's fine as a killer's ex.
Anyway this show has Kevin Bacon, and this man can do no wrong if you ask me, so I love the show already.
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I could see why some - probably many - will like this. For what it was it was pretty well done even with all the stuff pointed out in the review. I wasn't going to watch it at first but then I got an email from a friend saying it was outrageously good and what did I think. Well, I didn't think it was outrageously good but I did see the appeal. I haven't been too happy with Criminal Minds the past couple years for the same reasons mentioned in the review - most of these folks are just way too nuts and it's a bit depressing. I'd like to mention Red John here and say that Patrick Jane of the renowned CBI should never catch this guy because he is just way too smart and Jane is way out of his depth to think he even has a chance here. Anyone can write someone who is unbelievably brilliant and Joe Carrol is that same guy. So he gets recaptured in the pilot just to make the show work, oh please. One thing I didn't get was why they stopped Ryan Hardy from killing this guy at the end because if you were there and didn't get what bad news Carrol is then you're just stupid. The only way this gets fixed is if they just kill him right there and then. I'll probably watch another - you say ep 2 is really stupid, I'm there. Probably gonna be a big hit though judging from the negative responses to Tim's review...
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maybe the logic and premise will be explained thoroughly through out the show. ITS JUST THE PILOT! you expecting to get the whole story in a pilot? haha.
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Even if the premise explained itself in 400 episodes, it's still fundamentally ridiculous. A premise extends far beyond the pilot, or original concept. I'll be watching the rest of the season, but I doubt the show's premise will get any less stupid.
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you people need to relax. Was the show not entertaining. It's just a television show. Kevin Bacon is great in anything he is in. Who doesn't love a good man hunt and its got tons of blood and gore. Give it a chance. It was only the first show, we got 14 more to go.
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Ok, Tim, you didn't like this show. We got it. But I liked the pilot. About the problems that you wrote, I think that the show is about why the people follow orders by a serial killer and how he did it. This is going to be explained (At least I hope so). About the serial killer debate, is more psychological thing to understand it. They are insane, but that insanity can be explained. The villain doesn't need a motive behind. Look at the Trinity killer from Dexter or Bloody Face in American Horror Story. They are the villains, psychopaths, and with only psychological motives.
At last, the violence isn't that much. Maybe is just me who watches American Horror Story and Lars Von Trier movies, but I didn't bother me the violence in The Following.
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Great review, this series is a total disapointment... and lets point out that Jeananne Goossen is becoming a constant in crappy tv shows (Alcatraz)
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I kind of enjoyed the pilot. It had its problems, sure. The biggest was probably the far-fetched premise: I find that cults work when the leader has something to preach... how exactly is Carroll creating a huge cult by being crazy about Poe? But generally, it was a fun watch. It didn't move too slow or too quickly, the acting wasn't horrible, and it didn't get bogged down by trying to explain too much. While Tim may have had issues with nothing being explained, I generally liked that they didn't get "pilot-itis" by having the whole episode be introductory. Too many pilots suck because nothing actually happens.

Two other things that kind of bugged me: Hardy looking at one photo out of many, seeing a building in the background, then deducing Carroll and/or his possibly-fake-gay henchmen and/or Sarah are at said building. I know the building said something about a lighthouse and that has meaning to Carroll through Poe, but uh, they couldn't spend an extra 10 seconds to have him look through other photos? If Carroll basically wanted Hardy to see it and find him, his "clue" was way too vague... he could've had to wait for hours or days in that broken down bed & breakfast, probably cursing himself for not leaving a note or something more obvious. If he didn't necessarily want Hardy to find him, then that was too easy a coincidence.

The second thing is that I'd have liked Carroll to be on the run for a while longer. I know the show is focused more on his followers, but I like Purefoy -- I don't know how much I'd like seeing him ONLY in interrogation rooms or his prison cell for most of the show's run. I assume he'll break out again at some point, or find ways to go out on field trips, but for the most part, I'd have liked to see him on the run for another few episodes or something.
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I thought Kevin Bacon was a good actor - WTF happened to him?
This isn't a "Silence of Lambs"-series, this a F-grade-bland-serial-killer TV-joke. Hoping the others do better with Mads Mikkelsen as Hannibal with Scully. When does that start?
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this is pretty harsh!!! was initially interested to watch but now not so much. Agreed about serial killers with a purpose, mindless killing is just boring! The same goes for horror films where the culprit is just wreaking havoc for the sake of it.....where's the story and character development??
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Tim, this might be you're best review yet. Not sarcastic.
Nevermore indeed.
I have Rome on DVD, my love for Purefoy apparently has limits.
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You missed the point of serial killers shows. You dont have to simpatize with them, these shows are all about understanding how that person became what he is(Criminal Minds does all the time, Dexter does in each and every season, and both of them are solid shows that still lives, heck, even the movies of hannibal lecter are all about that)
I agree with Joe not being the most creative, charismatic or interesting serial killers out there, but he still is entertaining. The show will probably be about how he manage to manipulate each disciple, showing how they became so fascinated with him, and why.
And he is occupying the same space Lecter occupied in Silence of the lambs, and Red Dragon, but with a much more active presence, and a direct confrontation with bacon's character.
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thank you. give it a chance people. it's all about entertainment and I was entertained.
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i don't agree with this review...at all...

the pilot was pretty solid, most of the reviewer's complaints are based on the idea that the show didn't answer a lot of questions and circumvented some "logic"....well, you want the whole season to be told in one episode? have you not seen Justified (lnsert link to your latest Justified review), or Breaking Bad, Damages, or countless other shows that work on the idea that they present something shrouded in a cloud of mystery, only to unfold it clearly over the course of the season?

i'm not entirely sure what you expected from this pilot, it seems like you went in with a prejudice that you just couldn't shake off while watching it

but yeah, this pilot was pretty solid, especially for a network that's not FX or AMC, sure, it's a little silly so far in the sense that they're trying to work literature into the serial killer story, but, you have to let it develop and give it time to grow, IMHO

i like that this might just turn out to be a case or character study of hero vs villain, look at what the dark knight did with that, now just imagine it spread over a couple of episodes

and yes, poor maggie grace is always dying or getting abducted, maybe that's why she's remained so hot, because of her short appearances in tv/movies

anyway, looking forward to this show, hopefully it all works out and doesn't jump the shark too early
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I agree with Tim. The Poe angle was stretched to absurdity and back, the been-to-hell-in-a-bottle aspect of Hardy's character was contrived and the concept of self-sacrificing, gay-for-Poefoy followers was implausible. The pilot, however, was not completely terrible. I'm betting on the kid being Hardy's - and then turning out to be a follower! Or he might lose his eyes. Or turn into a raven...
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just to add to it haha, from your Justified review:

"The episode was a balancing act of keeping things interesting while not giving away too much, and boy howdy did it succeed with the help of snakes, psychics, and suicidal FBI men to thicken both of the season's major plots."

contradictory much?
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How cool wouldn`t it be if Natalie Zea walked down the stairs and said "Hi Raylan" instead of "Hi Ryan".

And for the record Tim; this is one of the first times I disagree with you.. It was entertaining enough. To watch it, you just have forget about all the quality shows from HBO, FX, Amc etc. You just have to enjoy the things that happen and don`t ask questions about the scenes that are horrible in terms of mistakes etc..
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I usually agree with your opinions of TV shows Tim...but on this one I highly disagree.

this was probably one of the better Pilots I have seen in a very long time. Only thing I didnt like about this show is the fact that its on fox. Which means after the pilot when they finally get to have an opinion on what goes on in the show they will probably mess the hell out of it or cancel it like they do every show thats actually entertaining on fox
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Agree with the first part and sadly agree on the Fox part :(
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"Anyway, the fact that none of this was addressed early on left a lingering doubt that was difficult to shake. Perhaps we'll get more info later on, or perhaps we're just supposed to believe in the power of Purefoy."

So the pilot is weak because every question isn't completely answered in full? Is that it? Gee TV would be so exciting if we watched shows and there were no mysteries left to unravel as they progressed..

"perhaps we're just supposed to believe in the power of Purefoy."

Why not?

What about the power of Steffi Graf that made Günter Parche stab Monica Seles?

What about the power of Jodie Foster that made John Hinckley, Jr. shoot Ronald Reagan and three others?

What about the power of Judas Priest that caused Raymond Belknap and James Vance to shoot themselves in the face with a shotgun because they listened to the records backwards?

What about the power of Ted Bundy who despite some of the most heinous murders against women was inundated by letters from women and marriage proposals?

One could very easily go on and on and on with examples in how absurd your ridicule of the show is when compared to numerous examples of real life absurdity.
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agree with your post but the "What about the power of Judas Priest that caused Raymond Belknap and James Vance to shoot themselves in the face with a shotgun because they listened to the records backwards?"

a record backwards is just gibberish.

maybe Ozzy's Suicide Solutions or PInk Floyd's The End...

otherwise perfect examples!!
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Absolutely, it was gibberish, but those two idiots "believed" that Judas Priest were telling them to kill themselves, thus the power of Judas Priest ;)

My wife came up with a great example after I'd made the post, what about the power of one failed painter who persuaded men to murder 4 million Jewish/disabled/political opponents etc...
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that is the best example! Smart woman:)
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the pilot of the Following was awesome, once again the creators of Fox have made a very good show hopefully they axed it!!!
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I meant they wont axed it!!!!
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It's ok I'm sure we all figured that ;) I also hope it's not axed, hopefully the fact it has Kevin Bacon means it will get a proper chance by the network.
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Also Tim! All these commentators who wont even watch the show cause you deem it unworthy? mmmmmhmmm starting a Following yourself? haha
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I will be extremely dissapointed in this show if stops Caroll's execution just so they can drag on the story line
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Kill him right now you idiots or it's gonna be a blood bath...
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Yep, yep yep I agree
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I also get frustrated when shows make those leaps, hardy sees photo, googles b&b, decides the guy is there and lo and behold there he is waiting for hardy. What if he didn't see the photo? What if he didn't make the connection? Would Carroll still be there waiting fro him. It's what hubby and I call the CTTP clause, it's Conducive To The Plot regardless of how ridonculous it is. I laughed at Bones the other night, the team weren't guessing the killers 'clues' fast enough so he called Bones to give her another 'clue'. Still I'll give it a few more episodes before I decide whether to send it to DVR heaven after all it's James Purefoy and I wouldn't kick him out of bed for leaving crumbs XD
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I tried to hit "more" on your comment, and hit "flag" by accident. My apologies!
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This seems like it isn't going to do well. The pilot was over way too quickly and didn't really have a lot of substance. Now I like the idea, but it seems like it is playing to the ADHD crowd. Both Carroll and Hardy could be great characters, but Carroll is no Lector and Hardy is no Will Graham. (those would be references to the Novel Red Dragon, which was also done in film as a prequel to Silence of the Lambs) If this was done as a show pitting them against each other and Carroll recruiting those along the way that would likely be more plausible. But this seems to be a bit much.

I don't discount Carroll's ability to recruit followers. But they need to, in their decision to jump between dates, show him as a charismatic individual that could potentially inspire people to follow him. To be able to do so isn't that difficult, half arsed cult leaders have been doing it since the dawn of civilizations. But that is or has always been in person, and after years and years of indoctrination and conditioning. To do it over the internet, sporadically over a three year period is a bit much.

Now Carroll as a character and as a follower himself of Poe. The crime scene photos from his crimes were in a word, inelegant, sure he can sever all of the 7 muscles that control the eye, which is difficult. But the romance that he is supposedly enacting on the victim, the beauty just isn't there. A person like that wouldn't hang up a victim by a rope, or leave them on the floor somewhere. They would likely be posed.

I think they really dropped the ball with Hardy. He is a reluctant protagonist. But he is way too damaged. Both mentally and physically. If they left it between Carroll and Hardy each trying to outsmart the other, especially due to Hardy's obvious physical limitations, that could have been great. But they need to jump around and have cheesy suspense, and cops jumping around, doesn't seem like they are capable of going that route. And the FBI characters, it looks like someone took a Cliff's notes version of Criminal Minds and slapped them together with old spackle and silly putty. And you take them away and leave Hardy by his lonesome, he isn't able to compete with him physically.

And the Poe stuff, if they are going to do this all season it is going to be annoying.

I hope I am wrong, but I see this as another Terra Nova or a Alcatraz. Good premise, bad show.
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Correct me if I'm wrong, but isn't the point of pilot episodes to get people interested in the show and then explain everything over the course of the rest of the episodes? The fact that the pilot of the Following didn't explain exactly how Carroll got a following is definitely NOT a deal breaker for me, I'm willing to wait for that answer and all the others that will probably follow. I'm not saying it was the best pilot I've ever seen but it was intriguing enough that I will keep watching.
This review is overly critical of the little things that the pilot episode supposedly didn't do. I will admit there are some things that were lacking and/or cliche such as the whole literary professor turns serial killer to honor his literary hero Poe by finding beauty in death. And the alcoholic former FBI agent coming back to work. Also, the rant about TV serial killers needing to have motives to be good characters. I totally disagree. I think the best TV serial killers are the ones who are deranged because they are unpredictable, the ones who have a clear motivation are somewhat predictable because there are certain things they have to accomplish to accomplish their goal.
Side Question: was there an agent named Mike Weston? That guy wishes he was Michael Westen.
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Exactly! Completely agree with all that.
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I thought it was a pretty solid pilot. Sure there are some plot gaps and a lot of things it asks the audience to just go with, most notably the whole reasoning for people to become followers / acolytes of Carroll. That is something that can easily be expanded upon in the next couple episodes though, so I have no problem giving the show some time to flesh it all out. There's only so much you can really cover in an hour-long pilot, but I think the show did a very reasonable job of setting up most of the premises and ideas going forward. Whether or not they actually do expand upon things is another question. My only real gripe is WHY IN THE #@$% DID THEY HAVE TO KILL OFF MAGGIE GRACE?!?! so angry at that, I was really looking forward to seeing her on a regular basis.
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Apart from the fact I quite enjoy a pilot (yeah, some things were quite weird) - I do actually believe that one clever famous murderer can make some people do what he wants. Haven´t you heard that women marry killers all the time? That there are cults? Sociopaths, broken weak people looking for some guidance? I´m not happy to say this - but this part of premises is quite realistic for me.
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I really want this show to be good for sake of good-name of Kevin. I hope coming episodes will bring some good changes because the first episode was well this review said it all already.

To me, this starting episode felt like 2 hour-long show to be honest, where earlier I watch Being Human and I felt if it was over in 15 minutes. I have no problem with the slow pace of a show as long as it capture you, I think The Following didn't do it at least with the start up. Let's see.
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