Sunday, January 19, 2014

Can The Following Keep Its Following?

Last midseason the biggest new hit was The Following starring Kevin Bacon and James Purefoy,
And it's b-a-ck --as bloody and violent as ever which is good or bad news depending on how your stomach handles blood and gore.
A one hour return is being advertised as a "preview" of coming attractions to run after the NFC Championship game Sunday night at 10:30 p.m. on CTV.
The first new episode comes up Monday January 27 at 9 p.m. on CTV. Got that?
The serial crime drama originally hit home with its Odd Couple teaming of Kevin Bacon (new to series TV) as veteran and dedicated detective Ryan Hardy who was determined to bring down mad cultist leader Dr. Joe Carroll played with exquisite elan by the ultra handsome Janes Purefoy.
It's funny but just a few years back I chatted up Purefoy in Toronto as he was making an oddball Canadian mini-series.
He was the one who brought up the fact he was a serious candidate to play James Bond and lamented he wasn't getting the toughie roles he wanted.
That was before his steamy antics in the miniseries Rome and certainly before his mad doctor outing in The Following.
And as an extended clip of highlights from last season's finale demonstrates Carroll seemed to perish in blazing glory. Nobody could withstand such a firestorm.
Or could Carroll still be out there somewhere? I'm just asking mind you.
Last season The Following started strong and rapidly devolved into an extended exercise in torture and violence.
I think it was the first X rated (for violence) series seen on network TV. If you thought Criminal Minds was tough to sit through what about this one?
The new season starts on a peaceful note as Ryan seems adjusted, he's teaching, trying to build himself up, haunted but looking to the future.
Then comes a bloody massacre on a New York subway with the crazed attackers all wearing Joe Carroll masks as they slash and kill about a dozen passengers very late at night. Only one woman is lucky to escape with her life.
The chant is all about the second coming of Carroll and Ryan Hardy's name gets mentioned with taunts to the effect even he can't stop what's coming.
If you aren't creeped out by now what about another murder, this one singular by two crazy twins --they even plant Carroll's book to make sure police know who they are.
Also back is FBI agent Mike Weston played by young Canadian Shawn Ashmore and trying to solve the new murders. He need's Ryan's expertise which is at first refused and this is something Mike cannot understand.
The problem is The Following might be slipping into a routine. Will it just be the first season all over again?
How can Carroll come back when we thought we saw him engulfed in a horrendous blaze?
Let's get this straight, others all around them are perishing in great quantities while Hardy and Carroll keep popping back for the next atrocity? It jusn't make sense.
What it does make is for eye popping terror where the body count keeps expanding and blood flows like water.
The action is so busy and well orchestrated just try turning away.
I know I couldn't.
 So let's give due credit to cinematographer David Tuttman and production designer Tim Galvin for making it so compulsively viewable.
MY RATING: ***1/2.

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