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on 14 April 2013
The premise of The Following involves Joe Carroll (James Purefoy), a former university professor with a specialism in, and fanatical adoration of, Edgar Allen Poe who, as the series opens, has just broken out of prison where he was serving a sentence for multiple, gruesome murders. Cue the FBI turning to the man who was responsible for putting him behind bars in the first place: former agent Ryan Hardy (Kevin Bacon). As a tiny spoiler (the clue, after all, is in the title), it quickly transpires that, during his time in prison, Carroll has succeeded in building up a legion of loyal disciples, all of whom espouse his mantra of death.

The Following could best be described as 24 without the time limit and where terrorists have been replaced with a murderous cult led by a convicted serial killer. The series is utterly captivating whilst being an exercise in frustration; like 24, progress is often one-step-forwards-two-steps-back. Most episodes contain some sort of twist which leaves you constantly guessing, and the anonymity of the cult members leads you to distrust almost all but the best-established characters.

What The Following does well is the depth it gives not only the leading characters, but also a large part of the supporting cast. Unlike 24, the timeline is not completely linear and a lot of the characterisation is built up through flashbacks, which works very effectively. Backstories add to the twists as well as the character development. Bacon is excellent as the troubled hero, dealing with Hardy's physical ailments (a hangover from his first capture of Carroll) and his emotional trauma and deficiencies. Purefoy is also highly convincing as the charming, charismatic, cold-blooded, sadistic killer; you don't struggle to believe that he could inspire the devotion of his army of murderers.

I should say that this may not be a show for everyone. If you're the type of viewer who likes total realism in your tv series then you may need to look elsewhere; whilst I wouldn't describe it as completely far-fetched, it does need to be watched with a partial suspension of disbelief. All too often, in order that the story isn't over after only a few episodes, the main characters appear to have had their commonsense glands temporarily removed. You will find yourself screaming in frustration at the screen when an agent refuses to pull their trigger (well, I was anyway), and shaking your head in disbelief when one or two agents go alone on a mission that requires an army (are we to believe that the FBI, in the hunt for a cult of unknown size, can't spare the manpower?). Equally, this is not for the fainthearted; the gore factor is set to `high' from the outset and the violence is graphic. However, if you can get past these points then I would highly recommend this as a compelling, gripping drama that fans of thrillers and/or 24 should enjoy greatly.
0Comment160 of 171 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you?YesNoReport abuse
Given the Americans’ almost reverential obsession with their serial killers, it was only a matter of time before the standard cat-and-mouse tussle between the killer and the FBI became the basis for a TV series.

James Purefoy plays Joe Carroll the urbane, intelligent, Hannibal Lecter’ish professor of English serial killer while Kevin Bacon is the somewhat dishevelled ex-FBI agent Ryan Hardy called back as a consultant following Carroll’s escape from prison. It all looks to conform to the standard formula but the presence of Carroll’s eponymous cult ‘following ‘ is a unique twist. Although the main plot thread is the hunt for Carroll, the gradual revealing of cultists drives the narrative while the relationship between Carroll, his ex-wife, son and Hardy adds a human dimension and allows some character development.

It is a well put together, violent, sometimes creepy & disturbing TV series which bowls along at a cracking pace but there are, unfortunately, some incredibly contrived plot devices which stretch the necessary suspension of disbelief more than a little. By the season finale it all seemed a bit improbable and silly but remained entertaining throughout. All-in-all, not as clever or intricately plotted as it could have been but not bad nonetheless.
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on 21 April 2015
When the American TV companies want a good baddy they often pick a Brit actor - this time its James Purefoy and a good job he makes of it too. My wife and I watched the first season over the course of a week and found it compelling but we won't bother with series two or three because, basically the plot gets more and more rediculous - even though you can argue that Jonestown, Waco and Charles Manson were unbelievable events . And if you know how the first season ended then the idea of it continuing is even more rediculous. The problem with this programme is that every episode has around three or so gruesome killings, sometimes more, and it is just more and more of the same. And you have seen it all before anyway. The killings are horrible, often gratuitous and I would not recommend that anyone with mental health issues go anywhere near this programme - it is very disturbing. Should excessively graphic violence be portrayed as entertainment? This would have been much better if it had been a six episode mini-series, with less killing but more tension. One other really good thing about though is, despite the gruesome gratuitous violence there is little or no swearing!
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on 22 August 2014
Brilliant nail biting series. Be warned, you'll want to watch the episodes back to back ...addictive viewing. James Purefoy is delectably devious and alluring as the manipulative serial killer and cult leader, Joe Carroll. Kevin Bacon is fantastic and utterly convincing as the relentless and courageous criminologist, battling his way through every twisted challenge in his pursuit of Joe until the season's dynamite finale.

This series redefines the term 'suspense thriller'. This is the new 'Hitchcock' for the 21st Century!
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on 13 January 2015
The acting is good. I started to watch this show because I like Kevin Bacon.
However, FBI is too dumb. The criminal cult is much more organized than FBI. Could this be real?
FBI stepping into enemy territory with no backup, no earwig, unable to communicate, .... , all this is impossible.
FBI doesn't even surveil suspects.
If the FBI hadn't been so negligent, this show would have ended in three episodes.
The producers had to make the FBI so incompetent just to prolong the show.
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on 27 February 2015
This is ridiculous - if real life FBI agents are this stupid the world is doomed - just risible cliched rubbish
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on 9 September 2015
Wasn't Silence of the Lambs great? it sure was. What about all those sequels? Yep, but the impact and quality of the ideas go down hill after they are rinsed and repeated eventually ending their journey as tired popular culture cliches.

They all turn up pretty quickly in The Following, the charismatic intellectual artistic serial killer, the damaged goods unconventional Fed who is the only one that can "get inside the head" of the maniac. Bloody Edgar Allen frigging Poe quotations, spooky inns and lighthouses...Jinkies! It's as one dimensional and familiar as an episode of Scooby Doo.

They throw in some stuff about the cultural morbid fascination and the compelling nature of serial killers mixed up with the social effects of the internet. Unfortunately this is just as mechanism for providing an ever expanding series of psychos each week that the main bad buy has following him because he's just so magnetic and super smart or magic or something....Oh and it's got Kevin Bacon in it.
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on 16 April 2014
I bought season 1 and am only five episodes in but already I am hooked! It starts
with former F.B.I agent Ryan Hardy (played by a miserable looking Kevin Bacon!)
hot on the case of serial killer Joe Carroll (played brilliantly played by James
Purefoy!). Not only is Joe on the loose but it turns out in prison he has formed a
sort of cult, a "Following" of murderers who are willing to kill at his command!

James Purefoy makes it worth watching. His character Joe Carroll is as charming,
eccentric and charismatic as he is cold blooded, calm and utterly ruthless! The
only thing that doesn't appear to fit is Kevin Bacon. His character is not given a lot
of development and Kevin looks well.... Lost! Like he is trying find the `Footloose 2`
set... I don't think the recent `EE` adverts have helped his career either.

That being said I am sucked in to this... Each episode gets darker... If you enjoyed `Dexter`
then I would recommend giving this show a go!
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on 16 September 2014
Tense, gripping and yes, gruesome. This is one of the best new shows I have seen recently, it reminded me of the first season of Prison Break in so much as I was constantly on the edge of my seat. Bacon is great as the troubled ex detective and Purefoy on excellent form as usual playing the charismatic cult leader.
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The subject matter of this 1st season,a Hannibal Lecteresque serial killer inspiring a group of potential killers from his prison cell,is the core of the plot;its a simple idea borrowed from the Thomas Harris novel 'Red Dragon' and expanded into several hours of drama,action and killings(mainly by stabbings as noted by many reviewers).

Serial killer James Purefoy does escape,as Lecter did in 'Silence Of The Lambs,' another Harris novel,and conducts a campaign of revenge against the FBI agent who captured him,Kevin Bacon,and uses his followers as the means to bring him down.

I liked the performance of Purefoy having seen him excel in the excellent 'Rome' and in several poor action movies that didn't help his career.Here he has a meaty role and uses it to create a clever,manipulative 'teacher' who goads his followers to commit the crimes that start the manhunt by law enforcement agencies including the FBI of course.

Bacon becomes instrumental in the hunt for Purefoy and his cult, members of which start comming out of the woodwork;herin lies part of the success of this series:you don't know whom has come under the influence of Purefoy and will 'stab' the good guys in the back as the episodes unravel.

It makes for entertaining viewing if you put aside the stabbings.There has been a good build up of the characters on the FBI side and augers well for season 2 I hope.
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