TV Series Review: The Following on Fox

Kevin Bacon’s new series, The Following, was filmed locally — and it premieres tonight

If you work in Rye, as we do, chances are your six-degrees-of-Kevin-Bacon number reduced drastically this summer when the actor’s new TV series, The Following, was spotted filming all around the city. In fact, traces of the show could be found throughout the County, with crew members hailing from throughout the Hudson Valley. (Keep an eye out for our February issue where we talk to David Tuttman, director of photography for The Following, about what makes this area so attractive for TV shows.)

Well, the results of all that shooting finally made it to the small screen. The Following premiered on Fox last night. If you’re not familiar with the premise of the show, it’s about Ryan Hardy (Bacon), a former FBI agent tasked with figuring out how Joe Carroll (James Purefoy), a serial killer locked up in prison, is getting his cult-like followers to carry out ghastly crimes for him. The show comes from creator Kevin Williamson, who’s no stranger to horror, having written Scream and I Know What You Did Last Summer (in addition to the most horrific TV show of them all, Dawson’s Creek).

Critical consensus is that the show tries to up the ante for network fare to better compete with what’s going on further up the dial on cable. It does so by ratcheting up the scares, the suspense, and the gore. But is that really what we want? If the Golden Globes are any indication, we do love our cable shows more than our networks. But is it because of the gore and extreme situations, or is there something else that makes those cable shows a cut above? Here’s what critics had to say:

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kevin bacon the followingThe Following © 2013 Fox Broadcasting Co., David Giesbrecht/Fox

The Following is extremely well done, terrifically cinematic and, from a political standpoint, terribly ill timed — not just featuring a charismatic serial killer and his equally homicidal cult-like followers, but in later episodes including an uncomfortable subplot involving a child. Still, if you’re going to play on (or near) cable turf — and that appears to be the goal — there’s no pulling punches, and exec producer Kevin Williamson delivers a full-throttle ride that, four episodes in, proves twisty, unpredictable and tense. Weighing those assets against the unrelenting grimness, the series deserves its own loyal following, despite qualms about its durability.” — Brian Lowry, Variety

“Both Bacon and Purefoy are so intensely earnest, The Following quickly supersedes its patent Silence of the Lambs setup. The moments that focus on Carroll’s criminal cult give the series its real power, and the modern-day variations on Charlie Manson’s kill-crazy crew are genuinely spooky. Williamson recently told EW that one of his favorite TV shows is 24, and a plot revolving around Carroll’s family has a similar ticktock timed-suspense aspect.” — Ken Tucker, Entertainment Weekly

“The Following is a show that’s disturbing without actually being scary, and that approaches deep, dark subjects without having anything real to say about them. Williamson may have put thought into what this show is about, but what comes across on screen is an empty exercise in fetishizing the charismatic evil of serial killers.” — Alan Sepinwall, Hitfix

“That’s fine, as long as no one is fooled into thinking The Following is as creatively excellent as a top-notch cable show. It’s not even close. If you try to make your show like a cable series by ratcheting up the gore, you’re missing the point. Truly great cable series are well-written, avoid dubious plot choices, limit exposition and refrain from beating the viewer about the head with the Club of Obviousness. Guess what The Following does? Yes, all of that (except the well-written thing).” — Tim Goodman, The Hollywood Reporter

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