Pulling the Plug on The Following

the-following-14Well, it only took 3 episodes for me to throw up my hands and become thoroughly disgusted with The Following. Like a carbon copy of the episodes before it, Ryan Hardy and the FBI remain not one step but several behind the bad guys, missing clues so obvious that I watched in disbelief. Yes, I know it’s not real. It’s written that way. But why treat your audience like morons? The scenes that were supposed to be shocking and surprising weren’t. I said to my roommate that cult members Paul and Will had real feelings for each other and that the gay couple thing was not just an act by the second episode. Voila! It’s a big reveal in the third episode. I also said to my roommate that  Maggie, the wife of cult member Rick Kester, was in on it and was a cult member. Voila! It is true!

Part of the problem is predictability, but the root problem is the terrible writing that requires you to suspend belief. In the opening scene, a man is lit on fire by Rick Kester. As Hardy is watching the video playback, he exclaims that he knows the guy set on fire – it’s a critic of serial killer Joe Carroll’s book. Let’s stop right there. The next words I expected out of Hardy’s mouth were, “He’s targeting his critics. There’s someone else that was really critical of him! Let’s go check on that guy!” But no, they stall and waste time as they try to figure things out and make a connection. But as usual, they are a little too late to stop the killer.

There’s another scene in which Agent Parker learns that Maggie is the cult member. Instead of calling Agent Reilly, who is in the house with the cult member, she calls Agent Weston, who is outside in the car! Really? Now that Agent Weston has the information, he grabs Hardy and tells him what’s going on, and they both go through the front door together. Not one covering the front and one covering the back, which conveniently leaves the back door as an escape route. And still no one thinks to call Reilly. Then Hardy hears a noise out back while checking on the dying Reilly, when the Kesters would have been long gone. Hardy manages to shoot the husband, but the guy gets back up, bullet and all, and gives his wife time to escape. Hardy is painted to be the expert, the guy who can solve the case when no one else can, but his progress seems more like a convenient case of being in the right place at the right time – yet never smart or quick enough to stop people from being murdered.  I mean, don’t you get the feeling that as the body count racks up in The Following, and the agents don’t show an ounce of competency, that their jobs might be in danger? And I can guarantee that either Agent Parker or Agent Weston is on Team Carroll – I could probably determine which one in the next two episodes; unfortunately, I won’t be tuning in to see if I’m right, because I just can’t muster up enough effort to care.

I’ve been watching Criminal Minds for several years now. The characters and show are both smartly written, and highlight the difference between a crime drama that feels somewhat based in reality, with a sense of urgency and competent people, and a show that is all about flash on the surface but has no substance when you look closer. What really makes me angry is that Fox cancelled shows I halfway enjoyed watching, Alcatraz and The Finder, and replaced it with this tripe. The good news is, not watching this show anymore will free up my DVR, as well as increase my review efficiency, since I won’t have to waste time both watching it and reviewing it…

The Following: “Chapter Two” (Season 1 Episode 2)

the-following-14Broadcast date: Monday, Jan. 28th

Episode 2 is a little better than the pilot, and yet at the same time a little worse. There are some great scenes, like the spooky Edgar Allen Poe masks and the edgy exploration of kidnapper Emma’s home. Then there are some eye-rolling moments like when new character Agent Parker reveals her intentions as she gushes over Carroll’s love of Poe (and objects to the word “cult”), or how long someone stayed in one place in Emma’s home wearing a Poe mask and waiting for Ryan to enter. That seems like it might be the norm for the show – ups and downs in writing, wrapped around unbelievable  motives – I haven’t been convinced of how Professor Carroll has exerted his influence over his followers. And another show that uses flashbacks to tell us things we already know – way to buckle in to the latest fad.

I’ll give the show a few more episodes to get past its shaky start, but its going to have to get a lot better.

The Following: Pilot (Season 1 Episode 1)

the-following-14Broadcast Date: Monday, Jan. 21st, 2013

With a lack of quality new shows released for the 2012-2013 season, I thought I would give Fox’s new show, The Following, a try. Here’s the blurb on the new series:

“Infamous serial killer Joe Caroll has escaped from prison and Ryan Hardy, the FBI agent who had him arrested, is called in to help the police try and find him. But Ryan soon learns that Caroll has made himself a number of followers over the internet as part of a huge game he has planned for Ryan.”

This series shows some early promise, and also some potential problems. Much will depend on how much the writing can be tightened up. The acting is top notch, but the plot has a few holes in it. While it’s certainly plausible that a charismatic psycho could develop a cult-like following over the internet, it’s annoying to think his minions are waiting around for years, leading fake lives, just to do his bidding when he escapes from prison, and that no one was monitoring his activity on the internet in the library. Though I don’t mind the use of Edgar Allen Poe as inspiration for the serial killer, I’ll need to see more than just a few well-known quotes. And in frustrating fashion, the FBI is consistently two steps behind Caroll for the whole show. Why does Hardy need to go to Caroll’s ex-wife for answers? Didn’t he catch the killer once before? Didn’t he even write a freaking book on Caroll? Is this the way it’s going to be each week? Because I’ll instantly tune this show out and move on to something else. As I’ve stated before, I like smartly written shows, but I’m not going to like serial killer drones getting the drop on bumbling FBI detectives every episode. Criminal Minds already handles the serial killer slant well enough that I don’t need the frustration this show promises, so it will need to get better fast. Ill give it a couple more tries to impress…

Also, I immediately recognized the always-gorgeous Maggie Grace (Lost) as Sarah Fuller, Caroll’s only surviving victim from his first spree of murders…