Tuesday, January 22, 2013

The Following Begins

A nasty night of entertainment on Fox tonight, with a dark episode of Bones followed by the premiere of a much darker  series - as in a serial killer just one or so steps below Hannibal Lecter - called The Following.

James Purefoy, best known to the American audience as Mark Antony in Rome, plays the erudite serial killer Joe Carroll.  He was an English professor with a poorly selling first novel (uh oh) and an obsession with Edgar Allan Poe.   He breaks out of death row, and that brings his arresting officer, Kevin Bacon's Ryan Hardy, back into play.

Except Ryan is much more than an arresting officer.  He was an intrepid FBI agent who against all odds nabbed Carroll some years ago, and was nearly killed in the process.  He's retired due to his wounds, and an alcoholic (though he maybe was that way before).  He also wrote a book, has a following of at least one young FBI guy, who is thrilled to be working with Ryan on this new Carroll case.

Except Carroll is much more than a literate serial killer.  While he was in prison, he somehow attracted a cadre of blindly devoted followers, women and men, who will do anything he commands.  Hence the name of the show.

So what starts out as a show about a brilliantly, sickeningly demented serial killer who thinks women look their most beautiful when dead and who takes out his victim's eyes - ala Poe - and prides himself on all the ocular muscles he expertly severs, segues into a show more about a Charles Manson writ large.  Or, what might have happened had Charles Manson been able to command a following even once he was behind bars.

It's a frightening prospect, powerfully acted by both Purefoy and Bacon, and I'll be watching the rest of the harrowing story this season with one eye on the screen and one on the door.


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