Oh, Kevin Bacon, we've missed you in horror. Never mind the fact that you've decided to head to the small screen for a television role in a show created by Kevin Williamson. That's no small headline, and it sure got my head turning. Not for Bacon, although this will give me another degree for Six Degrees of Kevin Bacon.
Well, The Following looked sort of promising, so I tuned in - after the fact, mind you, because I don't do anything on schedule. The show's got a hard-on for Poe, and it's using a lot of references to his literary works as source material for the killer, Joe Carroll (James Purefoy). You can never get enough Poe, right? Except when it's as overused as it is in The Following, somewhat like pounding a metaphor into your head in an hour-long literary class.
I'm being overly hard on the show immediately, though, because I think there's more good than bad to talk about. First off, Kevin Bacon's character, Ryan Hardy is quite interesting already; he's hard to get along with, he's mysterious and stand-offish, and he seems pretty smart. Oh yeah, he also threatens to have a heart attack anytime something strenuous comes along because he has an artificial heart. It makes for some interesting scenarios, even in this first episode, because Ryan can't be the untouchable hero all of the time.
We've also got James Purefoy in a disturbing role, and I think his accent does all the work for him. He's pretty good, although we don't see nearly as much of him as I think we will in later episodes, so how well he fits the part of a charismatic serial killer has yet to be seen. I'm surprised that The Following didn't show us more of how Carroll sucks people in - that is, after all, what this show is all about. We see a few instances where people have already been brainwashed by him - the icepick to the eye was nice, as was the fake gay guys who make off with Sarah - but the show will need to work carefully here, depicting just how Carroll seduces his prey.
It's a surprising episode because it's so intense, dark, and gory, and it doesn't shed any of its violence for the sake of the censors. It's blatantly obvious about it, which might be a detractor later on in the life of the show, but for a premiere that's meant to suck people in, the grisliness of the whole thing might work in its favor. Especially the surprising failure of Ryan at the end of the episode - Carroll's right, people do like to see the tragic hero.
The flashbacks in this episode seem somewhat out of place, though; most are unnecessary as such, and it's trying to go the Lost route by tying in past and present. But those scenes weren't too vital to this episode, and the constant jumps got sort of annoying by the halfway point - and the show even makes use of them by putting up the graphic of the year late, as though a surprise should be in store.
Despite its very melodramatic displays and an occasional digression into Poe lit, The Following looks to be an entertaining new series. That is, if it can continue to make episodes that follow both Carroll and a killer that has been plaguing towns - the show needs to juggle both in order to maintain a sense that there's more than just one serial killer loose, and to show that Carroll is pulling the strings. Go, Bacon, go!