Five things we learned watching 'The Following'
January 22nd, 2013
12:04 PM ET

Five things we learned watching 'The Following'

[Editor's Note: This post contains spoilers for the series premiere of "The Following" - you've been warned.]

Monday night's premiere of "The Following" finally arrived after months of hype. Kevin Bacon, in his first TV series since "Guiding Light," stars as FBI agent Ryan Hardy, a man who knows serial killer Joe Carroll better than anyone else.

So how was the first episode? Well, it was certainly a learning experience. For example, we learned:

1. You can get away with a lot of gore on Fox

Just a few minutes into the episode, we see the grisly sight of multiple dead prison guards, which first puts Hardy on the trail of Carroll.

In an ode to Edgar Allen Poe, college professor Carroll gouges out the eyes of his (usually female) victims, so we saw many, many eyeless victims throughout the episode, including a woman who was brainwashed to publicly strip down and gouge her own eyes out. Lovely.

Fox hasn't played coy about their hope that this will be their series to challenge the HBOs, FXs, AMCs and Showtimes out there, so they're definitely pushing the limits of broadcast TV here.

2. "Homeland's" Carrie Mathison has company

If you're hungry for more investigators who are always right but probably crazy, Hardy will satisfy your craving.

It's clear that Hardy is constantly on the verge of a breakdown while on the trail of Carroll. This leads him to be dismissed on a regular basis by his colleagues. Carrie Mathison, anyone?

3. "Lost's" Maggie Grace won't exactly be a regular cast member

Williamson scored a coup getting Grace (also known for the "Taken" movies) to star as a girl Hardy saved in Carroll's initial rampage.

But by the end of the episode, it was clear she was like "Scream's" Drew Barrymore, a familiar face who was there as cannon fodder. Carroll killed her in horrific fashion, her eyeless corpse hanging upside down right in front of Hardy.

Hardy captured Carroll, but it didn't matter as Carroll has a seemingly-unlimited army of followers to do his bidding, including his son's babysitter, who kidnapped the boy away from Carroll's ex-wife.

4. Creator Kevin Williamson is still a fan of the "look-out-there's-someone-behind-you" fake-out

The best example of this was Sarah - whom Hardy saved from Carroll nearly a decade ago - coming upon her roommate, who collapsed to reveal Carroll had stabbed her in the back.

Immediately following Sarah's flashback to that moment, she was surprised by an officer who snuck up behind her. This kind of thing happened a lot in the episode, like when a dying dog snapped at Hardy.

If there's any doubt that this show was based on an abandoned Williamson ("Dawson's Creek," "Vampire Diaries") script for "Scream 3," "jump scenes" like this will convince you.

5. Serial killers are about to have a big TV moment

It's not just "Homeland," but that other big Showtime hit, "Dexter," which seems to be the grandaddy of another TV trend.

NBC's "Hannibal," likely to premiere in the summer, is based on the original charismatic psycho, "Silence of the Lambs'" Hannibal Lecter.

Unlike Dexter Morgan, neither Hannibal nor Carroll mean well by any stretch of the imagination. But Carroll is very much the star of this show, in some ways more so than Hardy.

So the question is, will audiences tune in to a show with material this dark and violent week after week on Fox?

On the one hand, dead bodies are paraded constantly on programs like "CSI," "NCIS," "Bones" and "Criminal Minds." The real question may be if the cat-and-mouse game between Hardy and Carroll is enough to sustain a series long term.

I'll check out the next few episodes and see where it goes, but I am somewhat skeptical if it can keep people's interest.

What do you think? Share your thoughts on video or post a comment.

soundoff (49 Responses)
  1. Torben

    I'm currently watching episode 12 of the series and I must say that I've never seen a tv series that so completely fails to comply to human intellect. The FBI are portrayed as complete fools, falling for even the stupidiest tricks in the book and acting as amateurs everytime they have a chance at getting ahead. Instad of being out in numbers they, every single time, decide to go into action in 2's and 3's making themselves extremely easy targets to "the bad guys".
    I have to ask myself why I have continued to watch the series, but I guess I have continued to hope for a change of plot that will show just a slight bit of reality.. This seems to be still in the running...

    April 9, 2013 at 11:42 am | Report abuse |
  2. Don

    Can you say "jumped the shark"? An alcoholic ex-FBI agent who hasn’t been on the shooting range in 8 years kills five, armed ex-military ‘followers’, while his partner the seasoned FBI agent yells “Stop!” Stop?! Where was she when the shooting started, certainly not taking a backup position for her partner, disabling the get away vehicle, taking a position to confront the skels and prevent their escape, or calling in backup. When does the FBI go in after an armed group holding an FBI agent hostage without a full swat backup in reserve? Fonzy water-skiing is more probable.

    March 12, 2013 at 12:06 pm | Report abuse |
  3. STFU

    no..and risk not seeing boo way

    March 12, 2013 at 9:37 am | Report abuse |
  4. GrandPa Walking

    This is just too much gore for me! It makes the FBI inept as the Security Guard choked on his dressing and they didn't really check out David for hidden stuff! Last night FBI finds SUV, why not slash the tires for they can't get away or pull the plugs!
    So many flaws in the writing like they could not track the helicopter! Hey guys it's the 21st Century and satellites are all around us today!

    March 12, 2013 at 9:29 am | Report abuse |
  5. Michelle

    I am puzzled by the second episode where Ryan Hardy is snooping around in Emma's house and the the mask man (Rick) appeared, seemingly out of nowhere. Where the hell was he hiding all the time? How on earth did he creep up on Hardy without him even knowing it? Hardy just reaches down to pick up a book and poof, like magic, we see masked man's reflection in the mirror. What gives?

    March 8, 2013 at 2:36 pm | Report abuse |
  6. D

    What in the world are any of you people thinking. Show is not gory it is violent but doesn't go too far into blood and guts. I was excited to see what this show was about. But am sadly dissapointed. So apparently it is beliavable to think FBI agents are morons, cause I think not, and the sheer idea that a serial killer would be dictating when and how he would be treated in prison much less a warden okaying his transfer between states. Not my favorite show but my husband likes to watch in the hopes it will get better. But I think not. The writer needs to make it more believable.

    March 6, 2013 at 4:30 am | Report abuse |
  7. The press said

    kevin bacon did a poor job in this movie and really needs to do better monitoring of his cast.
    its not good for future financial projects....

    January 25, 2013 at 7:28 am | Report abuse |
  8. Marie McCluskey

    Loved the show. Can't wait for next Monday. Have always loved Kevin Bacon. So much better than those mindless reality shows that are staged to begin with. We really don't need more adults showing our young people how to be rude and obnoxious and in housewives of wherever. Feel better for venting.

    January 25, 2013 at 7:17 am | Report abuse |
  9. Word it anyway you want...

    the connection wins....

    January 24, 2013 at 10:17 am | Report abuse |
    • David

      The morons who created The Following are basically plagiarizing Red John in the Mentalist(Who by the way has never been in jail!),and Hannibal Lecter.Red John has successfully manipulated a lot of people,but manages to stay out of jail,unlike the cretin the The Following!

      January 24, 2013 at 8:34 pm | Report abuse |
  10. Adore Kevin...

    he can come ":visit" whenever he wants..i just wish he wasn't mad.

    January 23, 2013 at 9:43 pm | Report abuse |
  11. yeeee hawwww.

    Mr. Bacon looks great in his photo...he's in his 50's....lookin hot my dear!!!!

    January 23, 2013 at 8:51 pm | Report abuse |
  12. Poodlegirl

    Great pilot, however I dont think this storyline has alot of legs. The gore didnt bother me as much as the predictability did. Too many ads giving away the plot. I hope the writers can stretch this premise, Criminal Minds seems to have found the right formula.

    January 23, 2013 at 3:56 pm | Report abuse |
  13. A TRUE



    January 23, 2013 at 3:01 pm | Report abuse |
  14. i love kevin bacon..

    he needs to make my delivery -

    January 23, 2013 at 12:11 pm | Report abuse |
  15. Jan

    I love Kevin Bacon and I WANT to like the show...and I'm old enough to remember him on the Guiding Light. I'll be giving him another week or two but I will probably have to give it up if they don't leave some of the gore to the imagination of the viewers. There was too much!

    January 23, 2013 at 8:35 am | Report abuse |
  16. Susan - Canada

    Love, love, love Kevin Bacon. Will watch anything he's in. Loved him in Mystic River and loved him in this show. Hope it continues....

    January 22, 2013 at 9:49 pm | Report abuse |
  17. stuofnankinchowmien

    Five things I learned. 1) Kevin Bacon is way too thin. 2)Kevin Bacon has great hair. 3) Kevin Bacon has no age lines on his face, shouldn't he have some? 4)Kevin Bacon did not play the full frontal nudity he is recognized for in so many of his films. 5) Kevin Bacon's career has never gone into the toilet, he has taken dark rolls, serious rolls, playful fun rolls and always had a following. Even as his wife enjoyed a resurgence of her career we always knew he was there in the studio in the wings waiting for when she was choosing to end her series, he would return to work again.

    January 22, 2013 at 9:10 pm | Report abuse |
  18. K Man

    I found it to be great and cannot wait until next Monday! Mark Anthony did a great job as a serial killer!

    January 22, 2013 at 8:10 pm | Report abuse |
  19. Sheri

    It is my hope this TV show is ditched early. While I like Kevin Bacon, this show should not be shown in prime time, it is too violet, and the torturing of animals was completely unforgiveable EVER on TV.

    January 22, 2013 at 7:59 pm | Report abuse |
    • Jesus Harvey Christ

      Too violet? There's no such thing. I love the color purple.

      January 23, 2013 at 12:29 pm | Report abuse |
    • Wow really?

      A show about serial killers is "violet"? Really? It's kind of a violeNt subject...

      January 24, 2013 at 8:45 am | Report abuse |
    • Hacker Jane

      letting the blogger customers know my cd skipped in the car...hahahaha.

      January 24, 2013 at 8:49 am | Report abuse |
  20. Ed

    That’s an interesting way to look at the first episode, Harry, but I totally agree with you on the coming year of Serial Killer TV. Everyone was talking about The Following when I got to my office at DISH today. I didn’t want to be left out, so I logged on to The newest episodes from FOX are posted there the day after they air; I watched the premier at lunch, and came back with everything I needed to contribute around the water cooler.

    January 22, 2013 at 6:13 pm | Report abuse |
  21. kyra is almost 50 years old...

    and still so popular....yes yes

    January 22, 2013 at 1:58 pm | Report abuse |
  22. GOTCHA...


    January 22, 2013 at 1:54 pm | Report abuse |
    • CW

      've checked out some other reviews, and besides the refreshing honesty of this one (though I can't comment on the Poe accuracy) the most common descriptions I found were "intense" and "a rival for cable's best." Uh, what? If they mean intense as in gruesome, right. It's certainly got the gore. But a rival for premium channel offerings? I don't think so. Homeland, Dexter, Girls, Game of Thrones, House of Lies, Californication, even Damages – these are shows with complexity and depth, raucous at times and truly intense, full of terrific characterization. It's what I expected from The Following and didn't get. Instead of actual suspense and fear, we get the ubiquitous wobbly flashlights down creepy hallways and formulaic blood-dripped walls. Cops are killed like ants, as though they all forgot their firearms at home. And don't get me started on the characters! Purfoy tries so hard to convey the suave, evil dude you can't take him seriously. He conveys none of that eerie, fetishistic stillness of a remorseless monster; and Bacon, while he does give it his all, like the professional he is, must have needed the cash. How many times have we seen his retired, semi-alcoholic, obsessed serial-killer catching cop character? So banal. Last but not least, that animal torture scene was in poor taste, not to mention that most experts agree that unless caught in the act, serial killers never leave evidence like that just lying around. No one in the show said another word about the poor dog eviscerated on the table, or called in forensics or even the SPCA. Not only was it gratuitously cruel – as most of the show – but so unrealistic. In sum, an over-hyped disappointment.

      We can only hope it'll catch its breath and mature as the season progresses, but with the writer of "Scream" at its helm, who's hardly known for his subtlety, I doubt it.

      January 22, 2013 at 10:22 pm | Report abuse |
    • TEARS AND ALL...


      January 23, 2013 at 12:18 pm | Report abuse |
  23. Thomas-ITS MILLER TIME

    Spring was never waiting for us, girl

    It ran one step ahead

    As we followed in the dance

    Between the parted pages

    And were pressed in love's hot, fevered iron

    Like a striped pair of pants

    MacArthur's Park is melting in the dark

    All the sweet, green icing flowing down

    Someone left the cake out in the rain

    I don't think that I can take it

    'Cause it took so long to bake it

    And I'll never have that recipe again, oh no

    I recall the yellow cotton dress

    Foaming like a wave

    On the ground around your knees

    The birds like tender babies in your hands

    And the old men playing checkers, by the trees

    MacArthur's Park is melting in the dark

    All the sweet, green icing flowing down

    Someone left the cake out in the rain

    I don't think that I can take it

    'Cause it took so long to bake it

    And I'll never have that recipe again, oh no

    There will be another song for me

    For I will sing it

    There will be another dream for me

    Someone will bring it

    I will drink the wine while it is warm

    And never let you catch me looking at the sun

    And after all the loves of my life

    After all the loves of my life, you'll still be the one

    I will take my life into my hands and I will use it

    I will win the worship in their eyes and I will lose it

    I will have the things that I desire

    And my passion flow like rivers through the sky

    And after all the loves of my life

    Oh, after all the loves of my life

    I'll be thinking of you and wondering why

    MacArthur's Park is melting in the dark

    All the sweet, green icing flowing down

    Someone left the cake out in the rain

    I don't think that I can take it

    'Cause it took so long to bake it

    And I'll never have that recipe again

    Oh no, oh no, no, no, oh no


    January 22, 2013 at 1:46 pm | Report abuse |
  24. Need a facial?

    anybody interested this weekend

    January 22, 2013 at 12:54 pm | Report abuse |
  25. PJ

    I was on the edge of my seat watching the "Following". The show had me jumping several times and that is hard to do. I think this is going to be a popular show and will have a future if they give it time to stick. The acting was great and so is the writing. It is not far from reality when you think about the "Manson Family Cult" which were nothing more than trained killers at the beacon call of on person!

    January 22, 2013 at 12:53 pm | Report abuse |
  26. Making fun of someone

    is a huge price....especially if they have done nothing,....

    January 22, 2013 at 12:52 pm | Report abuse |
  27. krissyannd

    Husband and I jumped at least 3 times together. Some of the gore pushed it, but some great acting and it's just the pilot. I suspect as the show develops there is going to be an FBI member in the cult. Kevin Bacon is hotter now then when he was on Guiding Light. Finally, something to watch on Monday night.

    January 22, 2013 at 12:44 pm | Report abuse |
  28. YourManagement

    kyra needs too act like a kevin's other girlfriends are...

    January 22, 2013 at 12:41 pm | Report abuse |
  29. blow your nose...

    it would be huge "gamble" WALTZ UP ON YOUR STUFF TOO.....

    January 22, 2013 at 12:39 pm | Report abuse |
  30. Cattle Lunch Room

    Kevin Bacon gives me goosebumps not the kudies..i actually want to shake this man's hand

    January 22, 2013 at 12:35 pm | Report abuse |
  31. Ann

    It was a p oooooopy shoe

    January 22, 2013 at 12:31 pm | Report abuse |
  32. Christine Baker

    I thought the show went quick and held my interest...guy who played serial killer was awesome and I believe there will be enough to keep views captivated. DEXTER with his sister and all the family background keep me interested and I have Never been uninterested to see what happens next...great cliffhangers...thought this serial killer was caught too quick and too much gore for regular TV...however Kevin bacon was great choice as agent who first caught him and I think he can carry 15 more we delve deeper into the background.

    January 22, 2013 at 12:28 pm | Report abuse |
    • Your New Managers

      now looking for my other phones, computers and other accounts–ain't happening,....

      make sure mumzy has waltz up

      January 22, 2013 at 12:37 pm | Report abuse |
  33. Photo above

    Kevin Bacon is such guy's guy...the marriage to kyra is superb...

    January 22, 2013 at 12:21 pm | Report abuse |
  34. M

    its bad to do things too madonna.....i will bring NCIS screenshots

    January 22, 2013 at 12:16 pm | Report abuse |
  35. tracie


    January 22, 2013 at 12:12 pm | Report abuse |

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