03rd Dec2013

‘The Following: The Complete First Season’ Review

by Paul Metcalf


When it comes to television shows it’s fair to say that Kevin Williamson knows what he is doing.  He’s worked on successes like Dawson’s Creek and The Vampire Diaries and they were (and are) fairly big successes.  With The Following I heard good things, but in watching it for review I can’t help but feel that a good idea was just handled wrong – or that we as the viewer are meant to be stupid.

In many ways The Following does things right.  We have Kevin Bacon as Ryan Hardy an alcoholic ex-FBI agent working as an advisor on the case of Joe Carroll (James Purefoy), the psychotic killer he once caught.  With the idea that Carroll has a cult of serial killers ready to do his bidding and the cult uses Edgar Allen Poe as the inspiration for their plans we should be set for something very interesting indeed.

Now comes the problem, it may be that I’ve been spoilt by shows like Breaking Bad and Game of Thrones where the writing is intelligent and the set up for each episode rarely lets you down.  For the most part we have annoying cult members who show a devotion to a character that while it is claimed to be a genius, appears to only have one plan and that is to write a book and hope Kevin Bacon can give him a plot for it.  There seems to be very little in place of an actual real plan, and the character himself is so thinly created that you just wish Purefoy could work some magic and suddenly make the man interesting.

Then we have Kevin Bacon who does his best, but when he spends most of the season having to point out he has a bad heart seems to be paired up with the most stupid FBI team ever to grace television screens.  I fully understand that that to keep the season moving the FBI can’t actually win every time but when each episode is basically to find a lead, corner the cult members then end the episode with “uh oh….they got away, don’t worry we’ll catch them” then it tends to get annoying.  Not all episodes do fall to that level and there is a plot there, but there needs to be a believability in the situation and you can only believe that the FBI can be this stupid so many times.  That’s even before they throw S.W.A.T teams into the mix to act like the Keystone Cops.

The problem I have with The Following is that the setup promises an intelligent plot but just doesn’t live up to the potential.  If Joe Carroll was focused on more and actually given a stronger back story and if the cult members weren’t such foolish idiots then maybe what they get away with would make more sense.  There just seems to be a lack of focus on what is promised, and at moments the show becomes little more than a soap opera.

If The Following makes it into a second season I’d hope that there would be more of a focus on the subject of serial killers and less on relationships.  What it needs is to be darker, more gore and more importantly if Edgar Allen Poe is going to be used again then use his works properly.  The Following felt superficial, where it need to be focused and focus on plot.  It’s a shame really as it was a show that I hoped would work better, so if there is a future for it I guess we shall see if further seasons can better it.

The Following: The Complete First Season is out now on DVD.

Review originally posted on PissedOffGeek.com

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