Before I discuss my views of the premiere episode of Fox Television’s new media darling The Following – I should say a few words. Primarily, I should just go ahead and tell you right now that I’m wary of the Fox marketing machine. The more that they promote a series/event/media-spectacular – the more and more sure I feel that it’s going to suck (see: Terra Nova), or that it’s mightily not going to suck and Fox will abandon it due to its niche-style audience (see: Firefly, Fringe, etc. etc. etc). So either way – why get invested?
Which leads right into my thoroughly underwhelmed view of the premiere of this Serial Killer TV Serial. Yes, Kevin Bacon is terrific and well-cast as the gaunt, haunted former-FBI-profiler Ryan Hardy. But c’mon, that’s easy – Bacon is always terrific. And yes, there was a nicely creepy-cold vibe to the hour – despite all of the series set-up exposition that went on. And yes again, the conceit of a serial killer with acolytes out in the world carrying on his Edgar Allen Poe-referencing deaths is ingenious. Are they acting on secret requests from him in prison, or are they all acting alone to honor him? Maybe both/either? Lots of questions – and for a LOST-fanatic like me, that’s a good thing. Oh, and young horror-stalwart Shawn Ashmore is here, too – which made me happy, he’s got a knack for elevating whatever he happens to be in.
You guessed it… there’s a but coming.
BUT. All the Kevin Baconing in the world isn’t going to make up for the fact that James Purefoy – at least in this first hour – was simply copying Hannibal Lecter, right down to his instantly-recognizable cadence. Seriously… as a viewer, I kept waiting for the Fava Beans line, it had to be coming any minute. I’m a fan of Purefoy’s work on Rome (particularly/especially), but I sure as hell hope he plans on taking the character of Literature Professor turned Serial Killer Joe Carroll in a different direction. Lecter doesn’t belong here, and copy-catting a famous character for instant genre-cred is about as cheap as cheap can get.
And then there was the much-hyped GORE. Or should I say – the complete & total lack thereof? Other than a few quick shots of grue and one character’s unfortunately removed eyeballs… there was scant little gore to speak of in the premiere. At least, none that any self-respecting gore-hound would consider fresh or interesting.
Will I keep watching? Sure – I’ll give Kevin Bacon and Williamson (Scream) the benefit of the doubt and tune in at least a few more times, hoping for some nuggets of genius to keep me interested. Maybe it will grow into something special and spectacular – but until then, my trepidation about investing in any new Fox series continues.