Trouble with “The Following”

January 29, 2013

I am a huge Kevin Bacon fan. I enjoy watching him act. He has given us some exceptionally fine performances (and some goofy performances I love just as much). I was really looking forward to watching "The Following" a new series from Kevin Williamson (creator/writer/executive producer) which premiered two weeks ago on Fox.

Now after seeing the second episode I'm ready to pack it in. 

Maybe it's because I've been recovering from bronchitis for two weeks and haven't been outside and I'm a little stir crazy. Or maybe it's because I'm grumpy because I haven't seen or talked to anyone but Dick in all that time because when I do talk I start coughing. Or maybe I'm just grumpy.

But here's the thing. I'm not really big on conspiracy narratives.

Also cults are fine, but a cult around Edgar Allan Poe is like first-year grad school stuff—really, really, lame, unless you want to go deeper and darker than the writer has gone here (Williamson hasn't scratched the surface on Poe).

So lame in fact it reminds me of an idea someone tossed up late one night in graduate school (first year in fact) when Gordon got drunk and started reciting "Don Juan" and to keep him quiet Alan did an end run with "Romanticism," I did a slap down on Thoreau, and Steve started hyperventilating about Poe. (Only some of the names have been changed because not everyone was innocent.) It didn't hurt that for the third and final time in my life I'd had a little bit too much to drink—but hey, it was Pernod and that's just like drinking "Good and Plenty."

The point is, even a little silly from drink you can see Poe isn't where you want to go. Not in this direction.

With the poor tragic hero (who has been given a Hemingway wound—let's throw everything into the pot) like Ryan Hardy (Bacon) in this situation there isn't going to be much for him to do but stand around and look aggrieved. (Of course he'll look great doing it, but over time that isn't interesting.)

After episode 2 it seemed clear to me that 1. Everyone anywhere could be in the "cult" and so at any time for whatever convenience the writers needed we could have a new cult member pop up. Not too rigorous is it?

I'm putting my money on the killer's wife being still in cahoots with her ex-husband, Joe Carroll. I know we saw the new FBI team leader Parker give Joe the complete "stories and poems" of Poe. She could of course turn out to be in league with Joe (heck, the way Williamson has written it I could be in league with Joe), but I think she's just trying to stir the pot.

I'll still bet on the wife because she is too manipulative in "acceptable" circumstances and it would wound Ryan the most, which seems to be what Joe is after…

…but that's the problem. I don't care. They haven't given me any reason to care in the two hours they have asked me to invest. (And if they are going to groom the Mike Weston [actor Shawn Ashmore] character as a susceptible convert at some later date, because he's so eager and impressionable; or they are setting him up for an early death—I can't care about any of that either. I just find his character annoying.)

So I've knocked it off my list of TV to watch. I figure when it's all over someone who is an even more steadfast fan of Bacon's than I am, will be happy to give me a 3 paragraph précis of what happened and who all was in on it; or whether it was all just some sort of dream, heck why not. In the meantime I have all those hours to enjoy elsewhere.

But I am grumpy, because I was looking forward to seeing Bacon act every week.

    • mo
    • January 29, 2013

    i agree with you, Roz. i was looking forward to a Kevin Bacon series, plus i also really like James Purefoy ever i saw him play Marc Antony in the HBO series “Rome”. but, i don’t like all the convoluted plotting that is goin on in The Following. it just seems too contrived, as if they’re trying to move the story forward in a less than natural way. i may give it a couple more episodes, but i’m not hopeful. thanks for such an insightful post.

  1. Reply

    May I join this band? I also had high hopes here, but think the plot is hokey. I gave up last night.

    Try “AN IDIOT ABROAD”, any season. It delivers. What it delivers exactly is hard to pinpoint, but this newest season is quite good so far.

  2. Reply

    Mo, it also seems to me to be a waste of Purefoy. Since you’re going to hang in there for a few more episodes if it gets better, settles down, and grows some narrative boundaries drop me a line OK???

  3. Reply

    Thanks PeggySu, I went to the doctor last week when there was green gunk being coughed up. She said it was a cold (which is viral) and then a secondary bacterial bronchial infection. She could treat the latter with antibiotics (which I’ve been taking dutifully) and then for the breathing issues I have some steroids (I’m asthmatic and that complicates stuff). I have being doing pretty much what your husband had to do. Sadly I have not been recovering very quickly (but then I want it all to be over yesterday, and it is better each day, but not enough. Again in part because of the asthma.

    Thanks for the good wishes and for having my back! I had pneumonia two years ago (it was the last time I was sick) and it was awful, but I was able to shake it quicker than this. I’m very frustrated. At this rate, however I should be able to teach next Monday, which is the goal.

  4. Reply

    Ellen, I’ve seen the Idiot show the first season, then it fell off my radar. I saw an ad for it that he’s taking a little person with him this time. I don’t know if I can cope with the mayhem that will follow. But it raises a point I was ranting about earlier tonight to Dick (and the reason I then couldn’t stop coughing) which is that “reality” type shows shouldn’t be more scripted than what we expect is a drama that will follow the rules of drama.

    Also, something I didn’t put in my review, but which is bugging me more and more and more after explaining it to Dick. Why is it that everyone in the cult seems to have graduated from MCAD (Minneapolis College of Art and Design) so they can have a decorated, painted walls club house??? HUH???

    I’m just so unhappy about this show.

  5. Reply

    I hear you. I might just begin re-viewing ” artist movies” in response to the lean TV season; LUST FOR LIFE ( Kirk Douglas cracks me up ), MUNCH, Vincent and Theo, Girls with the Pearl Earring, etc…AGE OF CONSENT ( which is really silly with james mason as a free living bohemian…)

    Feel better. SLEEEEP if you can, like a cat.

  6. Reply

    I am so glad that I’m not the only one who gave up this show after a few episodes thinking, “Seriously? Poe? What are we in high school?”

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