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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.
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on 8 November 2015
I brought this series individually as I found it cheaper that way, all three series are brilliant, each episode gives a different surprise and even so there is a main story we don't know what to expect next. To hear series 3 is the final series was a little disappointing but again a lot of series are ruined because they go on a long time, we can be thankful that this one will not be ruined by that and there is 45 episodes so plenty of viewing and entertainment, I can't find any reason to give this series less then five star as it keeps one on their feet and plenty of surprises, apart from the main actors one never knows who is who' friend or foe? Great writing, acting and story line 100% well worth watching and collecting.
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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 18 June 2014
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 26 May 2016
Having seen the first two series on TV, I was annoyed not to be able to follow up with 3 rd series. However, not realising the term binge watch that was precisely what I did on a long haul flight, only to be cut off in my prime with 2 episodes to go....Worth buying. This series is well worth the wait. Is Ryan now the new recruit? Room fro a fourth!?
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on 24 May 2015
The series follows the exploits of Ryan Hardy (Kevin Bacon), a man with his own demons, as he heads up an FBI task force who is trying to catch a prolific and enigmatic serial killer Joe Carroll (James Purefoy). But Carroll is no ordinary killer, for he's built up his own following who just happen to be serial killers. So it's the FBI verses the followers in a non stop nail-biting showdown shown over three series. No one is safe.

This enjoyable series is well acted and well written. If you like things that make you jump, gross you out and entertain then I recommend it. What is all the better is that the series has been kept short (with 45 episodes) so the story is pacey and fresh.
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on 30 September 2016
Whats not to like, great cast, great story, suspense throughout.
Kevin bacon is amazing james purefoy is outstanding. But then you always need a british baddy to really make a series/film great.
This series is pretty fautless from start to finish.
Twists and turns you do not see coming and to see how easily people can be manipulated and become liars, which happens every day in this world is a true refreshing fact.
if you want a really good gritty thriller/crime series to watch this is the one.
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on 12 February 2013
This is a review of the television show only & may contain spoilers.

This is an extraordinarily bold show, with a pilot episode involving a plot that unfolds in a breathtakingly dramatic and terrifying manner, with many twists and turns. It is one of the most violent, gratuitous, and frightening TV shows, bar say 'American Horror Story' in recent history. It was created by Kevin Williamson, known for films like 'Scream' and 'I Know What You Did Last Summer', given Williamson's background one has a vague idea of what to expect.

The premise of the show revolves around a charismatic serial killer (James Purefoy) who escapes from prison and is recaptured (in the pilot episode). His escape & re-imprisonment activates his network of cult-like followers. These are other serial killers that Purefoy has slowly but systematically been recruiting prior to his escape (and recapture). His cult-like following meticulously follow his command and he is able to both communicate with them (in a limited capacity) and connect them with each other (albeit in specific groups). This enables his cult to work collectively forming alliances (and possibly resulting in mass action) with devastating consequences that span the country. It seems only Purefoy knows the master plan and why this cascade of events has been initiated at this point in time and what he ultimately hopes to achieve.

Ryan Hardy (Kevin Bacon) is a former FBI agent, who was on disability leave after Purefoy stabbed him in the heart, resulting in him now requiring a pacemaker! He is called back into service as a consultant when Purefoy escapes from a high security prison. Despite his reservations he returns, mainly because of his unique insight into the workings of the criminal mind that is Purefoy, having written a book on him and having led the team that previously captured him. Also, once Purefoy is re-captured he specifically requests Bacon's presence - as the story unfolds his motives for this become self-evident (e.g. playing mind games, revenge and the like). Bacon is a flawed hero, damaged both physically and psychologically by Purefoy, a decent and compassionate man, he carries the burden of each of Purefoy's victims with him psychologically/emotionally, which only adds to his vulnerability. He is no Saint, having had an affair with Purefoy's ex-wife (!), is an alcoholic, and emotionally unstable.

Joe Carroll (James Purefoy) is the charismatic, criminally insane, psychopathic, serial killer. He is an ex-professor of literature and believes that murder is a form of art and a tribute to his idol Edgar Alan Poe. He has systematically and skillfully recruited other criminally insane, mentally unstable, like minded individuals, "followers" who effectively constitute his cult-like following. They believe in his ideology and artistic impression and are willing to kill for him, to execute their master's plan. This often embodies truly shocking, senseless acts of violence and/or sacrificing themselves. Purefoy's master plan is currently somewhat elusive, but involves exacting revenge upon Bacon, despite the grand master himself actually being imprisoned (once again). You can confine the criminal but not his ideology!

Currently, Purefoy's scheming and goal seems to be mass murder and all round anarchy and chaos! However, my reservations lie in the fact he is a literary professor and failed writer - how does this make him symbolic and worthy of being followed? The cerebral dimension with its forensic psychology or Edgar Alan Poe angle, has yet to convince me of its ingenuity and brilliance, it just seems like a gimmick thrown in to seem intellectual. Nonetheless, I am currently enjoying the initial few episodes and there is plenty of time for this core message to be developed further.

A major criticism of the show has been that the premise is completely implausible and that the plot twists are cliché ridden. Yes, the police/FBI/SWAT team are incredibly inept and lack credibility at times. Nonetheless, for me, this is tongue-in-cheek horror and not to be taken seriously, I leave reality at the door, put my feet up and enjoy the ride. This is fantastical escapism that defies any logical reasoning. Some may not appreciate the gratuitous violence and graphic gore, they should probably give this one a miss! It is definitely aimed at a specific niche market, and the show may simply not be for you.

Overall, suspend belief, embrace the mass murder, prepare to be terrified, allow yourself to be manipulated by a criminal mastermind - let's all drink his 'kool aid'! This is exceptional escapism, just enjoy the ride and the guilty pleasure that is 'The Following' ....and become a follower!

Highly recommended.
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on 3 March 2014
I was given this as a present as I dont have the TV channel. It was intimated to me that this was one of the best series recently - what a massive disappointment. After the promising start in the first couple of episodes, the storyline degenerates into an implausible and incredible set of circumstances. Kevin Bacons character - a former FBI man - seems to have forgotten all he would have been trained in and subsequently does all the wrong things during the action. For me a series must have some credibility to work, and this loses all credibility the more episodes one watches. Holes bigger than the proverbial stagecoach appear and are left unattended, and when the plot looks like providing a sane answer, whoops- lets just invent a new set of circumstances. Sorry but I would have liked this to be a real attention grabbing series - as it is I have asked not to be given the next ones to be released as it just drives you up the wall due to sloppy script writing and ludicrous scenarios that just wouldnt happen. A big no no...
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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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