Maybe the timing isn't right for "The Following."
It can be dressed up with strong actors Kevin Bacon, as a dashing investigator, and James Purefoy, playing the serial killer the investigator is chasing, but "The Following" is arriving at the wrong time.
The show (debuting 9 p.m. today, WTNZ, Channel 43) is extremely graphic, with scenes heavy of gun violence and very thick with torture.
Given the recent debates about whether scenes of graphic violence on TV and film (and video games) influence society, "The Following" could be seen as a classic example of using violence to wrangle an audience. It's the same mentality behind that car wreck you just can't turn away from.
"The Following" does have merit. It's easy to see why an actor as established as Bacon would want to star in this.
Coming from writer Kevin Williamson ("I Know What You Did Last Summer"), the crime drama is filled with introspective moments, resulting in long speeches that actors love to dig into. In reality, they aren't very satisfying for the audience.
The cat-and-mouse aspect of the plot serves Bacon and Purefoy well for the most part. Bacon gets to be the emotionally tortured former FBI agent Ryan Hardy, who is brought out of retirement to track down the last guy he nabbed — and has since escaped prison.
And since a hero is only as good as the villain he faces (just ask Batman or Spider-Man), Purefoy can sink his teeth into the role of serial killer and cult leader Joseph Carroll, whose following stands by to carry out his orders even if he's behind bars.
"The Following" is intensely dark and tests the boundaries of reality — and even good taste.
Perhaps too much so.
Score: HHH(out of five)
Terry Morrow may be reached at 865-342-6445 or firstname.lastname@example.org.