Hear the Kerrang Radio review
As befits a man named after a toilet Edgar Allen Po is one of those writers who manages to be regarded as literary without being particularly challenging – exactly the kind of writer literary professors hate in other words. Where’s the fun in being a paid up member of the cultural elite when every kid educated up to the sixth grade can claim some knowledge of the literary canon? None whatsoever, my friends¹ and that is just the first of many reasons why The Following is very silly indeed. Some background for that arse. Eight years ago Professor Joe Carroll (James Purefoy) murdered 14 women in an icky manner, cutting their eyes out in a twisted tribute to Poe. “He didn’t just eviscerate 14 female students. He was making art” so says former FBI agent Ryan Hardy (Kevin Bacon). It was Hardy who caught Carroll, shooting him down after being stabbed in the tits by him, an assault which left Hardy needing a pacemaker. He’s off the job and pissed as a cunt now but the Feds call him in as a consultant because he just knows Carroll so very well and he’s escaped from chokey.
On the case is Agent Reilly, played by Billy Brown who will forever be Death Row Reynolds from Fx’s most people don’t know shit about boxing drama Lights Out to me and its other 13 viewers. Then there’s Agent Mike Weston (Shawn Ashmore) who looks about 12 and is apparently some kind of superfan of Hardy’s alcoholic work. “I did my thesis on Joe Carroll at the Academy”. Heh heh. He said faeces.
“He wrote a shitty novel The Gothic Sea which looks and sounds exactly the kind of desperate genre mawkfest some girl with crippling social anxiety on Booksie would bang out in a month.”
Much of this episode is spent with Hardy expositing Carroll’s Poey motivation. Carroll wrote a shitty novel The Gothic Sea which looks and sounds exactly the kind of desperate genre mawkfest some girl with crippling social anxiety on Booksie would bang out in a month, with a cover she knocked up in 30 seconds on Photoplop using the Daddy Issues Word 97 clipart bundle. He’s on the run, trying to get up in his ex-wife Claire’s (Natalie Zea) business and kill his last victim Sarah Fuller (Maggie Grace last seen as one half of the incest twins on the abysmal Lost finale) to finish what he started.
Ambitious? Certainly, but probably less than it sounds given that half the cast is a secret lemonade follower of Carroll. He spent the last eight years in prison building an army of dupes on the outside to bind, torture and kill in his image. It’s a serial killer franchise.
Cliché piles upon cliché here and if it was any more by the book it would be the book. As serial killer dramas go it lacks any self-awareness and can offer little originality beyond making the murders unusually gory for a network drama. James Purefoy is fucking awful but then he’s always been something of a hack. Bacon is bad for you, particularly as he stopped resembling a human being years ago and now has the looks, gestures and empathic resonance of a reptile. They’ve set their stall out for this to be a big dumb drama and in this at least they’ve succeeded.
It is watchable, mind. But that doesn’t mean it’s to be watched.
The verdict on The Following: A hollow ring.
Marks out of 10: 5
1 Go-kart into a tree of infected tampons, phlegm. You are not Aerial Telly’s “friends”.