January 22, 2013

Premiere sets tone for great series

CHICKASHA — Television shows are an addiction for me. I know I watch enough and invest probably too much emotion and time into a variety of series, but despite this self realization I find myself already hooked on Fox's new drama, The Following.

This Silence of Lambs / Alex Cross style show is undeniably engaging and sadistic. From the get go viewers are treated to a cornucopia of brutal crime scenes and visuals that I am frankly shocked Fox can show on network television.

Although this side of the series may seem trivial, it actuality means a great deal to me. I always find myself under whelmed by dramas or horror programs put out by the likes of NBC, ABC, CBS or even Fox. To actually have show that leaves little to the imagination is kind of refreshing. I don't watch TV to concoct the crime scene in my head - I have books for that. I want to see the pure grotesquery of these crimes and horrific incidents just as I want to see the majesty of beautiful landscapes or structures. All are needed to create a well rounded show and The Following exceeds in this and then some.

Then there's the characters. If viewers cannot connect to protagonist or antagonist a show is doomed. Luckily, Kevin Bacon as the stoic and haunted former FBI agent Ryan Hardy is fantastic. He's a depressed alcoholic, but viewers will have no problems embracing him as the dark hero. He is reminiscent of Victor Hugo's Javert in his dogged and unflinching resolve and passion when it comes to doing his job. He is a logical thinker and seems to lack any sort of artistic appreciation.

The counter to this is the shows antagonist, serial killer Joe Carroll played by James Purefoy. This guy is artistic, charming and seemingly lacking any sort of empathy or sympathy for his victims. He views his crimes as art and that notion sets up a perfect dichotomy between Bacon and Purefoy's characters. They're the perfect inverse of each other, which sets up an almost Batman and Joker dynamic that every good criminal show needs.

The one only weak point of this otherwise stellar plot is Carroll's obsession with Edgar Allen Poe. He kills according to Poe's work in an effort to pay homage to the haunted writer. It just seems so cliche. There are literally hundreds of writers and artists that played in the realm of the macabre that would have been a far more suitable muse for Carroll and far more original.

Still, this is a minor problem compared to the overall excitement and entertainment that is The Following.

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