Why It’s Worth a Watch Wednesday – The Following

With 2013 coming to an end, and the new winter television schedule right around the corner, I have decided to take a break (of sorts) here on Why It’s Worth a Watch Wednesday.  I say “of sorts” because instead of reviewing a fresh new series, I want to feature a show that I am looking forward to returning in the 2014 TV season.

And one that I am most excited about?  The Following

In The Following, former FBI agent Ryan Hardy (Kevin Bacon, um… from Footloose) must track down serial killer Joe Carroll (James Purefoy from Rome)—again.

There’s only one problem; like most serial killers, Carroll has fans now… people who are willing to do anything to help him succeed.

It takes very little to pique my interest when a new pilot premieres on television; I’ll watch pretty much anything.  But there are a few things that instantly attract me to a new show: the concept, the actors and actresses, and the attention to detail, particularly the music.  The Following had me at “hello” if that’s even possible for a TV program.

Agent Hardy is damaged… but no one knows Carroll as well as he does.

First, the serial drama follows the “cat and mouse” game between Carroll and Hardy.  The idea of a former FBI agent with issues working to track down a demented killer he once captured is right up my alley.  Next, the series stars, as already mentioned, Hollywood great Kevin Bacon.  I can’t even remember the last time Mr. Bacon starred in a TV series, if he ever has, which tells me the storyline really captured his attention as well.  And third, the pilot episode began with Marilyn Manson’s rendition of “Sweet Dreams.”  The musical introduction of this song grabs me every time… and the lyrics fit perfectly with the Carroll/Hardy scene at the end of the pilot.

So, is The Following worth following?

For me, the answer is an astounding yes!  Although I usually prefer mysteries and whodunits, the premise of not only the “cat and mouse” game between Carroll and Hardy, but also the concept that Carroll’s crazies, or followers, who will do absolutely anything and everything to convey Carroll’s messages, is quite unique to television—and frightening, considering there are people in our world who worship some of the worst criminals for all the wrong reasons.

Carroll even looks crazy…

Viewers are immediately taken into the mind and history of the two main characters.  The protagonist, Hardy, is now a retired FBI agent, who is also a recovering alcoholic and a man fighting to stay healthy (he has a bad heart).  And the antagonist, Carroll, who’s not only a murderer, worked previously as a literature professor obsessed with Edgar Allan Poe.

“Carroll was obsessed with the Romantic Period… in particular, his hero, Edgar Allan Poe.  And like Poe, he believed in the insanity of art, that it had to be felt.  He didn’t just eviscerate fourteen female students, he was making art.  He cut out his victims’ eyes as a nod to his favorite works of Poe: ‘The Tell-Tale Heart’ and ‘The Black Cat.’ See, Poe believed the eyes are our identity, windows to our soul.  To classify him (Carroll) as a picarist would be too simplistic.” ~ Hardy about Carroll to a group of FBI agents

As the pilot begins, we learn immediately that Carroll has escaped from prison and Hardy was responsible for locking him away.  But how did Hardy catch Carroll in the first place?  The Following uses a series of flashbacks to tell the backstory of these two characters.  And probably the most fascinating flashback shows us that Hardy used Carroll’s wife (Claire, played  by Natalie Zea from Justified and Californication), who also happens to be a professor, as an expert during his investigation.  Hardy had visited her on multiple occasions for help in tracking down the killer and she unknowingly led him in the direction of her own husband.  Clearly, this gives Carroll reason to haunt and torture both Hardy and Claire… and I’m sure the fact that the two shared a romantic connection doesn’t help either.

The agents react to one of the gruesome scenes left behind by one of Carroll’s followers…

The Following’s supporting cast is filled with familiar faces: Maggie Grace (the Taken movies) as Sarah, one of Carroll’s survivors; Shawn Ashmore (the X-Men movies) as FBI agent Weston; Jeananne Goossen (Alcatraz) as FBI agent Mason; and Warren Cole (Common Law) as Roderick.

I must confess, I thought the actor playing agent Weston was also the actor who plays Jinks on Warehouse 13, but it turns out it’s not—they are twin brothers!  Just a tad bit of trivia…

Oh, and if it’s even possible to fall in love with a bad guy, Roderick is that man.  But I digress…

Watching The Following is similar to enjoying a major motion picture thriller.  It’s intense, suspenseful, somewhat dark, and it keeps viewers on the edge of their seats with an occasional reason to jump out of their skin.  Toss in the Edgar Allan Poe references, who might just be my favorite poet, and I can’t help but award the Fox serial drama with the GTV rating.  Fox has themselves a groundbreaking television series, appropriate for viewing after dark with a perfectly grilled bone-in filet, steamed broccoli, and a glass of fine red wine.

ust one of the many Edgar Allan Poe references… and yes, that’s written in blood.

And just when you think the story has wrapped up, as implied during the season one finale, they leave us with just a little taste of more to come…  I can’t wait to see what The Following has in store for us in the new season!  And with almost an entirely new cast, including Connie Nielsen (Gladiator and Basic), James McDaniel (NYPD Blue), Jessica Stroup (the newer version of 90210), and Keith Carradine (Dexter and Damages)!

The Following returns in a two night event this January (Sunday the 19th and Monday the 20th).  Why we’ve had to wait so long is beyond me.  But I’ve waited this long and I can wait a few more weeks…

Oh, and I just thought the Edgar Allan Poe masks were creepy in season one.  The Joe Carroll masks in the season two commercials are even worse!

What do you think?  Have you watched The Following?  I’d love to hear from you! 

A Recap of The WatchWed Review System:

GTV (Gourmet TV): Everything we want and more
MacTV (MacNCheese TV): Guilty pleasure. Not perfect, but is satisfies
GMacTV (Gourmet MacNCheese TV): A combination of fine wine and comfort food
JFTV (Junk food TV):It’s not great for us, but we’ll go back for seconds
TBPTV (Twice Baked Potato TV): Part gourmet and delicious, while absolutely horrible for our cholesterol
SSTV (Still Simmering TV): It has potential, but the jury is still out
NIV (NyQuil Induced Viewing): Perfect for that late night television sleep timer
LOTV (Liver&Onions TV): Do we really have to explain? Blech
Inedible TV: Exactly how it sounds…

*****

Tiffany A. White is the author of the YA mystery Football Sweetheart series available on Kindle and Nook.  She is available for contact via Twitter, Facebook, Google+, or via email at tiffany {at} tiffanyawhite {dot} com.

Why It’s Worth a Watch Wednesday—Is “The Following” Worth Following?

Television’s winter premiere season is officially here!  With all of the new TV programs airing these next few months, Amber West and I have a ton of homework to do.  We had so much fun last week posting a dual review, we’ve decided to do it again—we’re reviewing the same show!  Will Amber and I agree or disagree after watching Fox’s new primetime serial drama, The Following?

In The Following, former FBI agent Ryan Hardy (Kevin Bacon, um… from Footloose) must track down serial killer Joe Carroll (James Purefoy from Rome)—again.  He first reaches out to Carroll’s ex-wife, a woman Hardy slept with, and then he informs a former witness and surviving victim of Carroll’s crimes that her nightmare has escaped prison and is more than likely headed her direction.

There’s only one problem; like most serial killers, Carroll has fans now… people who are willing to do anything to help him succeed.

It takes very little to pique my interest when a new pilot premieres on television; I’ll watch pretty much anything.  But there are a few things that instantly attract me to a new show: the concept, the actors and actresses, and the attention to detail, particularly the music.  The Following had me at “hello” if that’s even possible for a TV program.

Agent Hardy is damaged… but no one knows Carroll as well as he does.

First, the serial drama follows the “cat and mouse” game between Carroll and Hardy.  The idea of a former FBI agent with issues working to track down a demented killer he once captured is right up my alley.  Next, the series stars, as already mentioned, Hollywood great Kevin Bacon.  I can’t even remember the last time Mr. Bacon starred on a TV series, if he ever has, which tells me the storyline really captured his attention as well.  And third, the pilot episode began with Marilyn Manson’s rendition of “Sweet Dreams.”  The musical introduction of this song grabs me every time… and the lyrics fit perfectly with the Carroll/Hardy scene at the end of the pilot.

So, is The Following worth following?

For me, the answer is an astounding yes!  Although I usually prefer mysteries and whodunits, the premise of not only the “cat and mouse” game between Carroll and Hardy, but also the concept that Carroll’s crazies, or followers, will do absolutely anything and everything to convey Carroll’s messages is quite unique to television—and frightening, considering there are people in our world who worship some of the worst criminals for all the wrong reasons.

Carroll even looks crazy…

Viewers are immediately taken into the mind and history of the two main characters.  The protagonist, Hardy, is now a retired FBI agent, who is also a recovering alcoholic and a man fighting to stay healthy (he has a bad heart).  And the antagonist, Carroll, who’s not only a murderer, worked previously as a literature professor obsessed with Edgar Allan Poe.

“Carroll was obsessed with the Romantic Period… in particular, his hero, Edgar Allan Poe.  And like Poe, he believed in the insanity of art, that it had to be felt.  He didn’t just eviscerate fourteen female students, he was making art.  He cut out his victims’ eyes as a nod to his favorite works of Poe: ‘The Tell-Tale Heart’ and ‘The Black Cat.’ See, Poe believed the eyes are our identity, windows to our soul.  To classify him (Carroll) as a picarist would be too simplistic.” ~ Hardy about Carroll to a group of FBI agents

We know immediately that Carroll has escaped prison and Hardy is responsible for locking him away.  But how did Hardy catch Carroll in the first place?  The Following uses a series of flashbacks to tell the backstory of these two characters, and probably the most fascinating to me was the fact Hardy used Carroll’s wife (Claire, played  by Natalie Zea from Justified and Californication), who also happens to be a professor, as an expert during his case.  Hardy visited her on multiple occasions for help and she unknowingly led him in the direction of her husband.  Clearly, this gives Carroll reason to haunt and torture both Hardy and Claire… and I’m sure the fact that the two shared a romantic connection doesn’t help either.

The agents react to one of the gruesome scenes left behind by one of Carroll’s followers…

The Following’s supporting cast is filled with familiar faces: Maggie Grace (the Taken movies) as Sarah, one of Carroll’s survivors; Shawn Ashmore (the X-Men movies) as FBI agent Weston; and Jeananne Goossen (Alcatraz) as FBI agent Mason.  And I must confess, I thought the actor playing agent Weston was also the actor who plays Jinks on Warehouse 13, but it turns out it’s not—it’s his twin brother!  Just a tad bit of trivia… but I digress.

Watching The Following is similar to enjoying a major motion picture thriller.  It’s intense, suspenseful, somewhat dark, and it keeps viewers on the edge of their seats with an occasional reason to jump out of their skin.  Toss in the Edgar Allan Poe references, who might just be my favorite poet, and I can’t help but award the new Fox serial drama with the GTV rating.  Fox has themselves a groundbreaking television series, appropriate for viewing after dark with a perfectly grilled bone-in filet, steaming broccoli, and a glass of fine red wine.

Just one of the many Edgar Allan Poe references… and yes, that’s written in blood.

Now, before we go, Amber and I thought we’d play our own version of the game “Six Degrees of Kevin Bacon.”  For fun.  Well, actually because our great friend Jen Kirchner suggested we do so.  Anyway, the popular game challenges people to find the shortest path between themselves, or an arbitrary actor, and the Hollywood star.  So, here goes…

When I was younger, I worked at a country club in my hometown, where one of the members happened to be “Rooster” McConaughey, brother of Matthew McConaughey.  During a golf tournament one summer, I had the pleasure of not only serving the southern hottie with ice-cold beverages, but I also shared a brief conversation that included his ever-so-famous “Alright, Alright, Alright.”  No joke.  Anyway, back in 1996, Matthew worked on a John Grisham adaptation (A Time to Kill) with Kiefer Sutherland, who worked with Mr. Bacon in 1992 on the film A Few Good Men.

And that’s my “Six Degrees of Kevin Bacon.”  I’m only three degrees away… whatever that means. 🙂

What do you think?  Have you watched The Following?  I’d love to hear from you!  And if you’d like to play “Six Degrees of Kevin Bacon,” try this fun link: http://oracleofbacon.org/ and please share your results in the comments!

Now click over to Amber’s new & improved blog and see what she thinks about the new Fox “cat and mouse” TV series.  Did we agree or disagree?  Trust me; we usually have very different tastes in our television viewing pleasure… if our dual reviews last week didn’t convince everyone.

Come back next week when Amber and I review something…  Stay tuned!

Remember to stop by the #watchwed hashtag in Twitter to discuss any of today’s reviews, or to mention any television programs that you’d like to see on Why It’s Worth a Watch Wednesday in the future.

A Recap of The WatchWed Review System:

GTV (Gourmet TV): Everything we want and more
MacTV (MacNCheese TV): Guilty pleasure. Not perfect, but is satisfies
GMacTV (Gourmet MacNCheese TV): A combination of fine wine and comfort food
JFTV (Junk food TV):It’s not great for us, but we’ll go back for seconds
TBPTV (Twice Baked Potato TV): Part gourmet and delicious, while absolutely horrible for our cholesterol
SSTV (Still Simmering TV): It has potential, but the jury is still out
NIV (NyQuil Induced Viewing): Perfect for that late night television sleep timer
LOTV (Liver&Onions TV): Do we really have to explain? Blech

Why It’s Worth a Watch Wednesday – Magical Artifacts

This week, Amber West and I return to the science fiction world and review two of our viewers’ favorite SyFy programs.

Warehouse 13

Throughout history, government agencies have built secret warehouses around the world to house and protect magical artifacts.  These warehouses are overseen by the Secret Service and a group known as the Council of Regents. 

Warehouse 13, the current warehouse designed by a team including Thomas Edison, is hidden deep in the mountains outside of the fictional town of Univille, South Dakota, also known as the middle of nowhere.  As a part of their cover, the Secret Service agents claim to work for the IRS, and therefore the townsfolk snub them.  After all, who likes the IRS? 

Dr. Arthur “Artie” Nielsen (played by Saul Rubinek from the TV series Frasier and Nero Wolf) is the agent-in-charge of the warehouse.  Artie has a hard time trusting others with the artifacts, and he is oftentimes frustrated with his two lead agents, Myka and Pete.  Artie isn’t very personal, although he does have an ongoing crush on a visiting doctor played by Lindsay Wagner, who comes once a year to remove his regenerating appendix (it’s a magical show, remember?). 

Viewers learn that Artie’s mysterious past includes his unknowingly trading magical artifacts to the Soviet Union in exchange for the release of his imprisoned family members, an act that was considered treason by the United States.  Once he turned himself in, the US government assigned him to the warehouse where he has been ever since. 

Myka Bering (played by Joanne Kelly from the TV series Vanished and The Dresden Files) is the traditional, play by the rules, Secret Service agent working at the warehouse.  Like most women, Myka pays great attention to detail, and her professional style clashes with her goofy partner, Pete.  On a personal note, Myka has a pet ferret (that she named Pete) and she loves Twizzlers.

What “special power” does Myka bring to the table? She has a photographic memory.

Pete Lattimer (played by Eddie McClintock from the TV series Stark Raving Mad and Crumbs) is the other side of the partnership.  He’s a former Marine and a recovering alcoholic, yet he still has a goofy and fun side.  Pete loves sports, collects comic books, and craves junk food. 

What “special power” does Pete bring to the table? He’s a master at reading lips and he can sense when something bad is about to happen. 

The two partners share a cute relationship – it’s clear that they love each other, but more in a brotherly/sisterly kind of way.  Pete dated the town veterinarian for a little while (until an artifact possessed her and she tried to kill him), while Myka managed to kiss the boy she crushed on in high school at her reunion.  Other than that, the Warehouse 13 agents rarely have time for any romantic interludes. 

The Warehouse also employs Claudia (played by Allison Scagliotti), a young techie-genius who went to work for the team after breaking into the warehouse, and Leena (played by Genelle Williams), the proprietor of the local bed and breakfast where the agents reside. 

Other recurring characters include: Mrs. Frederic (C.C.H. Pounder), the director of the warehouse and liaison between the agents and regents; Helena “H.G.” Wells (Jaime Murray), an agent from the late 1800’s who bounces back and forth between good and evil; and, Steve Jinks (Aaron Ashmore), an agent brought in after Myka temporarily resigns. 

A huge bonus to working at the warehouse is the access to very cool gadgets.  The agents use a “Farnsworth” to communicate with one another visually and telephonically in lieu of cell phones.  Instead of using real guns, the agents use a “Tesla Gun” – a weapon that shoots lightning bolts that stuns the bad guys instead of killing them.  The agents also use caution when in public by capturing the magic of the artifacts by sealing it inside metallic “flash” bags.   

Warehouse 13 has featured many historical artifacts throughout the seasons including Lewis Carroll’s looking glass, Lizzie Borden’s compact, Marilyn Monroe’s hair brush, Harry Houdini’s wallet, Marie Antoinette’s guillotine blade (well, the one that killed her), Ben Franklin’s lightning rod, and Edgar Allan Poe’s quill pen. 

Click here for a complete list of artifacts to date.

Not personally big on most shows featured on SyFy, I find Warehouse 13 very enjoyable.  I read somewhere that W13 has over 50% female viewers, maybe for the very same reasons that I watch – it’s fun, magical, and an escape from reality.    That’s why Warehouse 13 earns a JFTV rating – it’s like the bag of potato chips that we just can’t put down.

Are you a Warehouse 13 fan? Is there an artifact throughout history that you’d like to get your hands on, and if so, what magical power do you think it might possess?   Do you like that the writers keep the relationship between Myka and Pete strictly professional and friendly, or would you prefer see a romantic spark ignite? I’d love to hear from you!

Now click over to Amber’s blog and see what she has to say about SyFy’s Eureka.

Come back next week when Amber and I recommended a few more queue worthy shows for your viewing pleasure as we close out the month of August with another Netflix edition.     

Remember to stop by the #watchwed hashtag in Twitter to discuss any of today’s reviews, or to mention any television programs that you’d like to see on Why It’s Worth a Watch Wednesday in the future.  We’re currently working on our September schedule and would love to chat with you!

A Recap of The WatchWed Review System:

GTV (Gourmet TV): Everything we want and more
MacTV (MacNCheese TV): Guilty pleasure. Not perfect, but is satisfies
JFTV (Junk food TV): It’s not great for us, but we’ll go back for seconds
SSTV (Still Simmering TV): It has potential, but the jury is still out
NIV (Nyquil Induced Viewing): Perfect for that late night television sleep timer
LOTV (Liver&Onions TV): Do we really have to explain? Blech

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