They may as well have called this one “The Forgery.”
“The Following,” a new series on FOX, stars Kevin Bacon, who plays former FBI agent Ryan Hardy. Hardy is a psychologically damaged investigator who once captured notorious serial killer Joe Carroll, nearly being killed in the process. Carroll is a brilliant literary professor who uses references to Edgar Allen Poe in his killings in order to “create art.” One of the signatures of his murders involve removing the eyes from his victims. After Carroll escapes, Hardy is lured from exile to capture him once again.
Sound familiar? It should if you’re at all a fan of Thomas Harris’s Hannibal Lecter books or the movies they spawned. The character archetypes and storyline are nearly beat for beat identical to “Red Dragon.” In that story, FBI agent Will Graham has already captured Lecter, having nearly been killed in the process. Lecter, of course, was an academic as well, though, in this case, a psychiatrist. Agent Will Graham is lured out of retirement to help capture “The Tooth Fairy,” whose criminal signature involves doing creepy things with his victim’s eyes.
Now, to be fair, there is slightly more to it than that. For what it’s worth, Kevin Bacon is the best thing about the show and, if it is to have any hope at all, it will be owed to his performance. Plus, there is a decent twist and scare here and there in the pilot episode, but nothing that really warrants enough interest to excite me for next week.
This effort from FOX is really quite pathetic. The supporting characters were lifted straight out of the cliche’ handbook and the references to Poe were completely beaten into the ground. But even more disappointing is that it has debuted just several months before Bryan Fuller’s series coming to NBC, in which the origins of the relationship between Lecter and Graham will be explored. If viewers have any sense at all, they’ll see to it that “The Following” is killed off before the Hannibal series makes air.