Once upon a midnight dreary, while he pondered, weak and weary, over many a quaint and curious volume of forgotten lore.
While he nodded, nearly napping, suddenly there came a tapping.
As of some gently rapping, rapping at his chamber door
“’Tis some visitor,’” he muttered, “tapping at my chamber door”
The producer said, “We need you Kevin, and nothing more”
Or at least it’s how I believe Kevin Bacon was cast.
Joe Carroll (James Purefoy) is Edgar Allen Poe’s biggest fanboy, but his fanboyism goes beyond the annoyances of screaming geeks rabidly defending Final Fantasy VII as ‘teh bestest game evar’ or some obsessed cosplayer pretending to be Alucard or even some Twigh-shite fan girl throwing acid in somebody’s face, possibly out of frustration because they don’t have some awkward sparkly vampire creep stalking them. No, it’s a little more extreme than that folks, we’re talking mass murder and a Manson-like cult (not Marilyn Manson mind you, but well played on using him in the soundtrack though).
Ryan Hardy (Kevin Mmm…Bacon) plays the FBI agent who managed to solve Carroll’s original murders and put the man behind bars, but in turn suffering his own injuries, leaving his heart crippled relying on the help of a pacemaker. The story takes place years later where Hardy no longer works for the feds, suffers from a drinking problem and is still unable to shake off his regrets.
Carroll was a well published author with an excellent teaching career, but his latest novel is one he’d have painted in blood, turning Hardy into his heroic protagonist in a game involving the lives of real people. The series is wrought with references to the works of Edgar Allen Poe and as are the ad breaks, seriously, am I the only one who has noticed all of the Lenor adverts? Talk about subliminal advertisement.
Clasp a rare and radiant maiden whom the angels name
Quoth the Raven, “Freshness forevermore.”
The plot manages to hook you in with its various twists and turns and even unexpected moments leave you wanting more. Furthermore, it’s a series that enjoys leaving you on a cliff-hanger, which to be fair, most dramas will attempt to do, just to make sure you watch the next episode. You know, so you can scream, “oh my God? What’s going to happen next?” I suppose it’s a sensible use of a plot device, which can be done badly. The Following manages it without being over-the-top, like on some lame soap opera (Oh my God Danny shot Steve, the horror! Next time on Lame-ass Soap Drama, will Steve make it or will he bite the dust? Dun dun duuuuuun!)
Kevin Bacon and James Purefoy are excellent cast choices. James Purefoy knows how to bring out the sociopath in Carroll’s character, his disconnection to reality, his clever contemplation and his pride in how well his game plays together. Everybody is but a character in a novel, what better way for a writer to lose his mind? After all, every writer would like their writing to have an impact on the world. Writers are cruel people and are some of the biggest murderers out there. Seriously, how many characters has Stephen King murdered in his years as a writer? Heck, I’ve killed a few myself and I’ve not even published a novel yet.
Whilst I think Purefoy plays his role better than Bacon does with his, Bacon still manages to pull off the fallen agent with a drinking problem well, Bacon is repressed and distant, afraid to open up, you can see a character with bottled emotions and when it comes to actually expressing any emotions, Bacon pulls it off convincingly. Unlike Nicolas Cage. I know lots of people like Nicolas Cage, but come on! The only film he ever actually showed any emotion was Faceoff. Of course, I could be a little more clichéd and pick on Keanu Reeves, but Bill and Ted makes up for it as far as I am concerned.
The series is well produced, at no point do any of the effects feel fake and all of the scenes are well put together. Unlike some TV series, which can feel like a bit like a low budget movie, The Following is one of those series that they’ve made the extra effort to keep you drawn in and not severing that sense of belief. Well, I say belief, I mean you’re not really believing that all the events are really happening, because that would make you really gullible, like those people who thought the world was really ending when they did that radio play of The War of the Worlds. What next? People will start believing people are going to raptured – we all know rapture happened, it’s just the human race is so evil that nobody ascended and the four horsemen are just delayed on account of supermarkets in the UK stealing their horses to substitute the beef in their burgers. Mmm…Apocalicious burgers.
In all seriousness, it is well paced, it keeps the tension right where it should be and leaving breathers and offering useful character building moments to connect. It doesn’t rush you into anything, yet it leaves you wondering what will happen next. Whilst the series is not all that original, it manages to come into a world of its own and as a result it’s enjoyable. We’ve all seen the same old murder mysteries before, the stories about manipulative series killers and the games of smart men leaving a trial of secrets, in that regard The Following is not special, but that doesn’t stop you from enjoying the ride, nor does it stop it from being a decent television series that leaves you in suspense.
Overall, it’s a good series to watch with enough to keep you interested. Definitely something for fans of Poe, even if just to spot the references. It is a nice break to have a decent scripted television in a world smothered in the reality TV of all the Snookies, Honey Boo Boos, Dog the Bounty Hunters and Supernannies out there. By not being a reality TV show alone gives it merit.
Acting = 9/10
Casting = 8/10
Production = 9/10
Effects = 9/10
Plot = 9/10
Music = 8/10