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TV Review: The Following (FOX)

Joe Carroll

Joe Carroll

If you’re a devoted viewer of CBS’s Criminal Minds, you’ll probably love The Following. Unlike Criminal Minds, where it’s a new serial murderer every week, and each case is wrapped up in one, or at most two, episodes, The Following is one ongoing case with more twists than a slinky.

Created by Kevin Williamson, produced by Outerbanks Entertainment and Warner Brothers TV, the series premiered on January 21, 2013. It is described on the Fox website as “A brilliant and charismatic, yet psychotic serial killer communicates with other active serial killers and activates a cult of believers following his every command.”

The series premise is touted as “The FBI estimates there are currently over 300 active serial killers in the United States. What would happen if these killers had a way of communicating and connecting with each other? What if they were able to work together and form alliances across the country? What if one brilliant psychotic serial killer was able to bring them all together and activate a following?”

FBI Badge & gun.

FBI Badge & gun

  • Kevin Bacon stars as retired FBI agent Ryan Hardy, who is brought out of medical retirement (and incipient alcoholism) by the escape of his last capture, the serial killer Joe Carroll, who put the knife into his heart and ended his career by nearly ending his life.
  • James Purefoy costars as serial killer Joe Carroll, who escapes and is, in fact, recaptured in the first episode. When a woman waiting with potential witnesses to be interviewed receives a text message from him and then kills herself, the FBI realizes that Carroll has “followers” who will do anything for him.
  • Shawn Ashmore appears as young FBI agent Mike Weston, aspiring profiler and Hardy’s “partner in crime” in breaking FBI rules to track down Carroll’s followers.
  • Annie Parisse appears as Debra Parker, a senior FBI agent brought in to head up the hunt for Carroll’s followers in the second episode.
  • Natalie Zea appears as Carroll’s ex-wife Claire Matthews. She and Hardy had a brief affair after Carroll’s original conviction and their divorce. Her son is kidnapped by Carroll’s followers.
The adversaries

The adversaries

The cast is so packed with experience and talent, watching the show feels more like watching a good movie than good TV. The character development, the plot tension, the pacing within each episode grabs the viewer and doesn’t let you go until five minutes after the closing credits.

Give it a try. If serial killers and the cops that pursue them fascinate you, it will be well worth the hour. Monday evenings on Fox, 9 pm ET.





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