Thursday, January 31, 2013

A Little Help From My Friends...

There is a new TV show that I'm now completely in love with, my dear readers. It airs Monday nights at 9pm on FOX. The show is called: The Following. The story of the show centers around a retired FBI agent Ryan Hardy (played by Kevin Bacon) who is called out of retirement when the serial killer Joe Carroll (played by James Purefoy) , whom Hardy caught, escapes from death row. Hardy quickly catches Carroll, but during the course of the investigation finds out that during his time in prison, Carroll had created a cult of serial killers through various social media outlets. So even with Carroll behind bars, the case isn't over because of ... The Following... that Carroll has built.

I've watched two episodes of the show so far, and I have to tell you that this show has been nothing less than AMAZING!! There is this intoxicating mix of crime procedural, thriller, and character drama that is relentless. The show just grabs you and doesn't let you go. The best part of the story is that the story has so many options to explore. There's the typical stuff of investigating a crime and learning about the investigators, their lives and how the investigation takes its toll on them. But, with the cult aspect of the show, there's also this whole other avenue open to exploration: the members of the cult. It looks like there is going to be power plays between the members of the cult. They all love Joe Carroll, but that doesn't mean they all like each other. The lack of mindless belief in their leader gives so many levels of complexity to the show, it will be amazing to see how the producers of the show play it out.

I've always held the opinion that when you have masters working on their craft, you get superior work. So far, the writers of the show have proven this. However, my first interest in the show was because of the casting of Kevin Bacon. I've been a fan of Bacon since I first saw him in Footloose. (Yes, I watched the original film in the 80s. Shut up.) In his recent films, he's always delivered solid, very raw performances. He doesn't do a lot of polishing which makes his characters seem more like real people. Seeing him as a broken FBI agent who believes his best days are behind him was very provocative.

Then I found out that James Purefoy was on the show AND he was the main villain. That was just amazing news to discover. And after watching the first two episodes, Purefoy delivered so much more than I could have hoped. He has this insane intensity that he lends to the role of Joe Carroll that not only adds weight to the role, but allows you to fully believe that this man could inspire not only his students (Joe Carroll was a college professor before he turned to his life of crime), but also dozens, possibly hundreds of people to kill and/or be killed in his honor.

Watching the scenes with both of them together was like the first taste of the best meal you've ever had. The raw, broken, angry FBI agent facing off against the cultured, charismatic serial killer in a game of cat & mouse that is like no other simply because of its scope was truly riveting to watch. 

I've watched a lot of crime solving shows like CSI, Criminal Minds, Castle, etc. And the one thing they all have in common is that the truly great episodes come when the featured villain is competent and complex enough to provide a true challenge to heroes of the show. Especially when the challenge is so great that that heroes can believably lose to that villain. Those are usually the episodes that I really enjoy. The Following starts you with that villain, and because of the effort to maintain a close parallel to reality, the villain has every possibility of winning not only the battle, but the war.

Personally, the part I'm most excited to see is how they develop the cult aspect of the show. The idea that anyone, anywhere could be connected to the serial killer and/or be a killer themselves is just too enticing! If you are into this kind of material, my dear readers, I would truly recommend watching The Following. You will love it!

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