Monday, April 22, 2013

The Idiot Box: My Thoughts On The Following


Okay, I know I'm kinda late on this one, and I'm going to try to keep this relatively brief, but I just saw the first episode of the Kevin Williamson serial killer procedural The Following, and I kinda had to vent a little. This isn't going to be the kind of thing like I do with other shows where I review each episode week to week, or like the occasional season retrospectives I always give up on. This is just a one shot, because that's frankly all I could stomach from this fucking terrible show.




If you haven't seen it, The Following is about an ex-FBI agent tracking down a Manson-esque group of minions cultivated by a serial killer in prison. The set up is actually somewhat novel, and as much as I've never really been a big Kevin Williamson fan, I was attracted to the show mostly due to the cast, particular Kevin Bacon as the hero and James Purefoy as his psychotic Mortiarty. Now, I used a literary reference just then for a very specific reason, to highlight the main problem I have with this show, which lies in the primary motivation for the central killer.


You see, the killer in this show, the one who inspires an entire cult of people to kill for him as copycats, is an ex-literary professor who is obsessed with the works of Edgar Allen Poe, and kills in order to make great art through tributes to Poe in the form of dead girls with their eyes and hearts cut out. They even go out of their way to point out that unlike 99% of actual serial killers, he's not a sexual sadist, because he's basically too sophisticated for that. Because he's an Artist.


This is such a fucking pretentious screenwriter's idea of what a serial killer is that I cannot take it, and thus the premise of the entire show, seriously. A failed author himself, by the end the killer has decided to treat his killing sprees as novels, with his new one acting as the sequel to his first book, casting Bacon's character as the protagonist and himself as the antagonist. I don't just mean that he does that, I mean he fucking explicitly says he's doing that using those literary terms in the way that no one who has ever existed ever speaks!


This show is just filled with those kinds of moments that attempt to boil down a concept that isn't even as smart or as cool as the writers think it is into something even simpler and dumber. At one point we see the word "Nevermore" scrawled in blood, and Bacon's character has a Nicolas Cage moment where in mid-flipping of his shit he has to piece together out loud the fact that its a quote from The Raven, just for anyone ignorant enough to not pick up on this incredibly obvious reference. And I didn't even mention the way the guy breaks out of prison in the first five minutes of the episode. I actually don't think I want to, if only because its so goddamn stupid, I kinda want you to see for yourself if you haven't already.

Also, apparently this shit happens at some point.

This is television for stupid people, and I don't know, maybe it gets better as it goes along, but I can't bring myself to explore any further to find out. This thing was painful, and the fact that its a hit is just astounding to me. I see the appeal to give it a shot, but once you see the shoddy execution involved in bringing this idea to life, what makes you want to go along for episode two? Well, I certainly won't be. Fuck this show. Fuck it right in the mouth. Sorry, didn't mean to get all poetic on you.

Good day.
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