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.

A Pick Per Night 2013

Welcome to the 2013 edition of A Pick Per Night!

It’s hard to believe I’ve been blogging about television every single Tuesday for the past three plus years… but I have.  And today I’m going back to one of my very first blog posts and selecting one show per night that I absolutely can’t miss.

A Pick Per Night is perfect for those who have time for just one television program each evening.   Back in 2011, I selected: Hawaii Five-0 for Mondays, NCIS: LA for Tuesdays, Criminal Minds for Wednesdays; Archer for Thursdays; and Blue Bloods for Fridays.  And last year, I named: Pretty Little Liars for Mondays, Justified for Tuesdays; Revenge for Wednesdays; The Vampire Diaries for Thursdays; and Supernatural for Fridays.  Considering the networks move their series around every single year, not to mention add tons of new programs to the schedule, let’s see if any of these previously picked shows survive and land on the 2013 list.

Sunday – Revenge

I honestly thought this season started a little slow, but now that it’s almost over, Emily is back at it and she’s not letting anyone stand in her way of seeking revenge against the Grayson family.  Nothing is off limits.  When the show returns from its odd hiatus, I can’t wait to see what plans “angry” Jack has in the works for Conrad… not to mention what Emily has in store for Victoria.  I’d say more, but I don’t want to give away any spoilers!

Monday – The Following

Since we’re being honest here, I cannot believe The Following is on Fox… its dark, gruesome, and twisted.  I could see it on FX, but I’m blown away that it’s on basic cable.  That said, Kevin Bacon is fantastic as Ryan Hardy… his character reminds me a lot of 24‘s Jack Bauer—he doesn’t get to sleep and he doesn’t play by the FBI’s rules.  And James Purefoy is freaky good as the villain, Joe Carroll.  Heck, I even like Joe’s right-hand-man, Roderick.  I hope he doesn’t die… but I’m beginning to think NO ONE is safe from death on this show.

It was quite difficult for me to not select TNT’s Dallas for the Monday night slot… the writers and the creators have resurrected the legacy of the original series, not to mention the cast’s performances this season have been some of the best on TV.  I don’t normally want to applaud the television after an episode airs, but I sure did last night with the two-hour season finale.  Bravo, Dallas!  Bravo.

Tuesday – New Girl.

I think I’ve pretty much decided that Pretty Little Liars is my favorite show on television right now, any night of the week, but for the sake of choosing something that is actually airing new episodes right now for Tuesday nights, I’m picking Fox’s New Girl.  My guy and I both laugh hysterically when we watch this sitcom; so much so, that we have to remember to not watch while we’re eating dinner—we might choke on our food from laughing as much as we do.

Wednesday – Criminal Minds

There are tons of police procedural programs on TV today, but none like Criminal Minds.  This television drama follows a team of highly trained FBI agents who profile criminal behavior for the Behavioral Analysis Unit (BAU).   They study unsubs, or “unknown subjects” of the investigation, instead of the crime itself.   As a mystery writer, Criminal Minds is a great tool for understanding the minds of the criminally inclined… not to mention, the character development for each one of the stars has me invested in every single one of them.

Thursday – Scandal

I don’t want to give too much away about Scandal’s scandalous plot, but I do want to say that each and every episode draws me in, holds me in tight so that I don’t miss a word, and leaves me with my mouth gaping open in awe at the end.  The series is classified as a procedural in that each week Olivia and her team take on a new client and help “make their problems go away.”  But, Scandal can also be classified as a serial drama, or a nighttime soap opera, with an ongoing story that keeps getting better and even more scandalous with each passing week.  This series has drama; it has politics; it has love; and it has A LOT of scandalous twists and turns…

Friday – Grimm

Now well into its second season, Grimm has aired more episodes and tackled fairy tales such as Goldilocks and the Three Bears, The Pied Piper, Rapunzel, The Queen Bee, and the Three Little Pigs.  The special effects and storylines are enticing… and I particularly love the use of Monroe in each episode to help Nick solve the case at hand—it is a bit heartwarming to see the two work together and develop a friendship between creature and Grimm, not to mention Monroe almost always has something witty and funny to say.

Plus, the actual police procedural aspect of the story ranks up there with the other crime dramas on television today.  There’s a bit more of a serial storyline this year, and I like that… quite a bit, actually.  This story arc has helped us invest more in watching on Friday nights, instead of letting the episodes stockpile on the DVR.  We’ve even found ourselves saying the NBC slogan on occasion: “Thank Grimm it’s Friday.”

Do you watch any of these shows?  If you had to pick only one television series per night, what would you choose and why?  I’d love to hear from you!

And before we go, I wanted to send a warm message to all those affected  by the horrendous acts in Boston yesterday.  My thoughts are with all of you.

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

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