‘The Following’ premiere review: Only this, and nothing more

The FollowingThere’s little way to get around saying this about Fox’s new series “The Following”: if you live alone and are a squeamish young woman, it will terrify you. This is a dark and deeply disturbing tale that reminds us in many ways of “Se7en” or some of David Fincher’s early work, and one that pushes the limits of just how edgy TV can be on a major network.

We would be remiss to say that this show comes to you without flaws, as there are the same sort of pratfalls and logic issues that you typically see in any sort of horror or suspense flick with a daring male lead (played here by Kevin Bacon) who thinks as though he can do everything all by himself. However, the rest of the show easily makes for what is the best pilot for a show that we have seen since “The Newsroom” (which got off to a tremendous start, even if you did not like what followed). There were solid introductions to character, a clear good vs. evil dynamic, character development, and a shocker at the end of the episode that few pilots dare to execute.

Hats off to writer / executive producer Kevin Williamson for pulling off at the close here something that he was excellent at with his scream movies: killing off someone who you were presuming would be a big part of the franchise in Sarah, the last remaining person on the hit list for Edgar Allan Poe aficionado and serial killer Joe Carroll. Even though the killer is behind bars now, the twist is that he somehow managed to find a way to indoctrinate others to also do his bidding along the way, leaving behind a team of people that Bacon’s Ryan is going to have to try and hunt down.

We hope that the show does not shift to a “bad guy of the week” format, but that does not really seem to be the plan here at the minute. Instead, the cliffhanger suggests that the upcoming episodes will focus on the quest for Ryan to get Caroll and his ex-wife’s son (who of course stays with the latter) back before any harm comes of him, and to keep these brutal people from doing their master’s bidding any further.

While the subject matter here is difficult and “The Following” is clearly not a show for everyone, we have to be honest here and say that without question this is the best new hour-long pilot that the network has had since “Glee,” and one that takes the ambition of “Terra Nova” but adds a better script to it. You lose a great show in “Fringe,” and you find a way to bring another one back at a time in which few Fox shows have fared well over the years.

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Photo: Fox

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