Let’s talk about ‘The Following’

The Following


Does this show suck? Is it awesome? I can’t figure it out. Of all the new shows this winter, none have had me thinking quite as much as Fox’s The Following. It’s got a pretty basic premise – team of FBI tries to unravel the plot of a serial killer – with a few twists. The killer is in prison, for once – his plots are being carried out by a network of groupies that he assembled on the Internet with the help of a corrupt prison guard. It’s got a great pedigree, with Kevin Williamson (Dawson’s Creek and the Scream movies) at the helm and a good cast including Kevin Bacon in the lead. But why isn’t it working as well as it should?

EW is reporting that ratings for the show are on a serious downward slide after a promising first two episodes. We’re talking a 17 percent loss between episodes 3 and 4. It’s still one of the best-performing new shows this year, but people are already saying that it won’t last.

So what’s wrong with it? Let’s run through some things that rock and some things that suck about The Following.

Things that rock: The followers. The best aspect of the show is the setup of the different people that serial killer Joe Carroll twists into his own image. They all have their reasons, whether it be deep psychological damage or just a sick lust for thrills, and because the show’s vague about how many of them there are they can be trotted out whenever it needs a shot in the arm.

The main cast. Kevin Bacon is great as retired FBI agent Ryan Hardy, brought back into the fold despite his crippling alcoholism. He’d apparently been looking for a TV series for four years before the script for The Following came his way, and he steps solidly into a post-Jack Bauer action world.

The gore. This show is violent as hell, definitely pushing new boundaries for network TV. That’s a good thing in my book, but your mileage may vary.

Things that suck: The Edgar Allan Poe thing is just totally embarrassing. It’s like they were trapped in a writer’s room until they came up with a “gimmick” for the killer. But the gimmick of Joe Carroll should be his charisma and his ability to motivate these followers. The Poe thing is just extra lard on the cake, and every time it comes into play it’s painful to watch.

The supporting cast. There’s really not any interesting storylines around any of the FBI agents and associated people. The one card that they could play is that one of them will turn out to be a follower, which I’m sure is going to happen, but it’s not worth paying attention to them to guess which one (although I’ve got $20 on Mike Weston).

The music. Nu-metal is over, guys.

So what do you think? Will The Following have staying power or is it doomed to die?