[In case you've Forgotten, and as I will continue to mention each and every one of these posts that I do: This is *not* a review. Pilots change. Sometimes a lot. Often for the better. Sometimes for the worse. But they change. Actual reviews will be coming in September and perhaps October (and maybe midseason in some cases). This is, however, a brief gut reaction to not-for-air pilots. I know some people will be all "These are reviews." If you've read me, you've read my reviews and you know this isn't what they look like.]
Show:"The Following" (FOX)
The Pitch:"You know that awful movie 'The Raven' about the killer who was obsessed with Edgar Allan Poe?" "Not really." "Excellent. Because this is a script about a killer who's obsessed with Edgar Allan Poe." "Hmmm..." "Did I mention that you can use the show to boost your score in Six Degrees of Kevin Bacon? Excellent."
Quick Response: Some people love "The Following." Most people I know, in fact, love "The Following." You're probably going to love "The Following." That's fine. I can deal with differences of opinion. I *strongly* disliked "The Following." To me, Kevin Williamson's script for "The Following" plays out as The Most Pretentious "Criminal Minds" Episode Ever, with a liberal post-modern splash of "Scream" at the very, very end. I don't know how many of the things I disliked most about Williamson's pilot script are going to continue to be an ongoing problem. The predictability of the character archetypes -- Grizzled alcoholic FBI veteran and wily, brilliant serial killer -- are now established and won't need to be introduced again. The serial killer cult aspect of things is, unfortunately, not going anywhere. Sigh. However, the series could progress without needing to return to the tediously superficial Lazy English Major skimming of Edgar Allan Poe. In fact, PLEASE progress without this aspect, because every time any character engaged in rudimentary literary analysis, I wanted to jab them repeatedly with a red grading pen. The characters in "The Following" who are convinced they're saying smart things -- "Nevermore! The Raven! Poe is symbolizing the finality of death!" -- aren't nearly as smart as they think they are and the pilot isn't nearly smart enough to sell this level of affectation, either earnestly or self-reflexively. [I still love the first two "Scream" movies, plus the first season of "Dawson's Creek" and y'all know my feelings on "Vampire Diaries," so my general tendency is to be strongly pro-Kevin Williamson. It just happens that I think this particular script is a mixture of cliches and pomposity.] Pilot director Marcos Siega has somewhat improved on Williamson's prose by making "The Following" moodily atmospheric and cinematic, but he's also possibly amplified the semi-exploitative violence and sadism that left me rolling my eyes and left some of my colleagues terrified. Shrug. Your results may vary. One thing I think we can all agree on is that Kevin Bacon is really terrific here. The obvious comparison is to Kiefer Sutherland's TV transition with "24," but Bacon is already getting to play the frenzied-and-frayed Jack Bauer of Season 4 or Season 5 and he's doing it well. Damn well. As Bacon's adversary, James Purefoy has a role seemingly designed to push him to make only the least subtle choices available, which is already his unfortunate tendency. That worries me. The rest of the pilot's supporting cast is very solid and I really hope they give Natalie Zea something good to do, since people often cast Natalie Zea and don't remember to write for her. One last thing: Enough already with Marilyn Manson's cover of "Sweet Dreams." It's moved into "Hallelujah" territory of overuse. We get it. It's a moody and ironic piece. Enough.
Desire To Watch Again: For Bacon? My desire to watch again is high. To see how the plot unfolds without the cumbersome responsibilities of pilot-dom? Also high. I didn't like "The Following" very much at all, but it's still the network pilot that left me most curious to see a second episode. Weird stuff like that happens sometimes.
Take Me To The Pilots '12: ABC's 'Family Tools'
Take Me To The Pilots '12: NBC's 'Infamous'
Take Me To The Pilots '12: ABC's 'How To Live With Your Parents (For the Rest of Your Life)'
Take Me To The Pilots '12: NBC's '1600 Penn'
Take Me To The Pilots '12: ABC's 'The Zero Hour'
Take Me To The Pilots '12: NBC's 'Do No Harm'
Take Me To The Pilots '12: The CW's 'The Carrie Diaries'
Take Me To The Pilots '12: ABC's 'Malibu Country'
Take Me To The Pilots '12: NBC's 'The New Normal'
Take Me To The Pilots '12: NBC's 'Guys with Kids'
Take Me To The Pilots '12: FOX's 'The Mindy Project'
Take Me To The Pilots '12: CBS' 'Partners'
Take Me To The Pilots '12: ABC's 'Nashville'
Take Me To The Pilots '12: CBS' 'Made in Jersey'
Take Me To The Pilots '12: The CW's 'Emily Owens, M.D.'
Take Me To The Pilots '12: FOX's 'Mob Doctor'
Take Me To The Pilots '12: NBC's 'Animal Practice'
Take Me To The Pilots '12: ABC's 'Last Resort'
Take Me To The Pilots '12: CBS' 'Vegas'
Take Me To The Pilots '12: The CW's 'Beauty & The Beast'
Take Me To The Pilots '12: ABC's '666 Park Avenue'
Take Me To The Pilots '12: NBC's 'Chicago Fire'
Take Me To The Pilots '12: FOX's 'Ben and Kate'
Take Me To The Pilots '12: CBS' 'Elementary'
Take Me To The Pilots '12: The CW's 'Arrow'
Take Me To The Pilots '12: ABC's 'The Neighbors'
Take Me To The Pilots '12: NBC's 'Revolution'
All of last year's Take Me To The Pilots entries