The Following

Season 1

 

The Following ~ Season 1

Created for television by Kevin Williamson

Written by Kevin Williamson, Adam Armus, et al 

Cinematography: David Tuttman

Editing: Rob Seidenglanz

Production Design: Laura Ballinger

Music: John Frizzell

Produced by Rebecca Dameron & Michael Stricks

Directed by Marcos Siega, Joshua Butler et al

U.S. Air Dates:  Fox TV: January 21 - April 19, 2013

 

Cast:

Kevin Bacon

James Purefoy

Natalie Zea

Annie Parisse

Shawn Ashmore

Valorie Curry

Nico Tortorella

Adan Canto

Kyle Catlett

 

Production:

Television: Outerbanks Entertainment & Warner Bros. Television

Video: Warner Home Video

 

Video

Aspect ratio: 1.78:1

Resolution: 1080p

Codec: AVC

Disc Size: BD 50 x 3

Episode Size: avg. 9 GB

Total Avg.  Bit rate: Low (ca. 18.5 Mbps)

Runtime:  44 min/episode; 650 min. total

Episodes: 15

Chapters: 9 per episode

 

Audio: English DTS-HD MA 5.1

 

Subtitles: ESDH, French, Spanish, Finnish, Swedish, Dutch, Norwegian, Danish


Extras

•From a Dark Place: Maximum Episode Mode of Extended Pilot.

•The Thrill of Horror: The Creator Behind The Following 

•The Followers' Den 

•The Cult of Joe Carroll: Inside the Followers 

•The Following Production Chronicles 

•Two Additional Mini Featurettes

•Audio Commentary - finale episode

•Deleted Scenes

Presentation:

Extra Thick Amaray Combo Pack: BRD x 3 + DVD x 4

Street Date: January 7, 2014



Warner Product Description:

Almost as dedicated as Joe Carroll's "followers," television fans tuned in each week for the premiere season of The Following, making it the highest-rated new program of the 2012-13 television season. Now, fans can relive the thrills as Warner Bros. Home Entertainment (WBHE) releases The Following: The Complete First Season on DVD and BLU-RAY Combo Pack January 7, 2014. An instant hit with viewers, The Following ranked as the #1 drama series (new or returning) on all of network TV among Adults 18-49! The Following: The Complete First Season includes all 15 suspenseful episodes and is available to own for $39.98/$49.99 SRP. The release includes over three hours of bonus content including five behind-the-scenes featurettes, unaired scenes, a season finale commentary and more.


       


Golden Globe winner/Emmy nominee Kevin Bacon and James Purefoy (Rome) star in this terrifying thriller from Kevin Williamson (The Vampire Diaries, Scream) about an escaped serial killer, Joe Carroll (Purefoy), and the psychologically scarred ex-FBI agent, Ryan Hardy (Bacon), who returns to stop him. Working closely with an FBI team, including cult-specialist Debra Parker (Annie Parisse) and sharp upstart Mike Weston (Shawn Ashmore), Hardy unearths that Carroll was covertly communicating with a network of followers while in prison. Challenged with an ever-growing web of murders orchestrated by the diabolical Carroll, the FBI quickly learn that they are up against not one, but an entire cult of killers.


       


The Set-Up:  [Wikipedia]

The Following centers on former FBI agent Ryan Hardy (Kevin Bacon) and his attempts to recapture serial killer Joe Carroll (James Purefoy) following the latter's escape from prison. Hardy soon discovers that the charismatic Carroll has surrounded himself with a group of like-minded individuals (which he met while teaching and while in prison), and turned them into a cult of fanatical killers. When Carroll's son Joey (Kyle Catlett) is abducted by his father's followers, the FBI discovers that it is the first step in a wider plan for Carroll to escape custody, humiliate Hardy, and murder Carroll's ex-wife Claire (Natalie Zea).


       

 

The Season: 5

2013 was certainly the year where the Police Procedural  met and wed the Horror genre. Fox’s The Following and NBC’s Hannibal are the two most chilling examples. One could say these two shows are fraternal twins, since both pit a driven, psychologically damaged FBI agent (or quasi-agent) with quasi savant investigative skills against a smarter, twisted serial killer. In both cases the villain has special knowledge of other serial murderers and is in close contact with the protagonist in a cat and mouse game of wits and terror.

 

Hannibal, as you may know, is based on the book Red Dragon by Thomas Harris and the movie Manhunter, not Silence of the Lambs. Dr. Lecter is not yet in prison but his adversary is, in his way. Lecter is a forensic psychiatrist and not at all portrayed initially as a villain. On the contrary, he’s a rather agreeable fellow until the truth gradually reveals itself. On the other hand, former Agent Hardy’s adversary, Joe Carroll, was a professor of 18th century American Romantic Literature.  He is handsome and charismatic. His students are mesmerized. Some fall under his spell and find themselves entirely at his disposal for his nefarious ends. What is interesting is that these people are portrayed as closet killers – in love with death, as was Poe, the American author whom Carroll specialized in and became the inspiration for his crimes and those of his followers.


       

 

The protagonists in both Hannibal and The Following are gifted investigators and become seduced by the object of their study. Their antagonists realize this and use it, each in their way, so that the drama plays out on two levels: the pursuit of the killers at large and the cat and mouse game between the principals. The thriller aspect of Hannibal is far more psychological and introverted, only occasionally bursting out into the open; while that of The Following is always near the surface, threatening to tear the show apart by the sheer velocity of its crimes. So, despite their surface similarity, I would imagine that the two dramas appeal to very different audiences.

 

Unlike Hannibal, The Following demands considerable suspension of disbelief. The writers do take pains to make the implausible plausible by observing details. In this respect, the show is more self-scrutinizing than many. For instance, when one character learns that her son’s nanny has abducted the boy, she exclaims how little sense this makes since the girl has been the child’s nanny for three years and was vetted more thoroughly than other mothers if for no other reason than she had been in close contact with a serial killer herself a few years earlier. By her mere mentioning how impossible it could be that she didn’t see this coming we can accept that there is serious criminal cunning afoot, and are less likely to say to ourselves how preposterous it is that someone could be a sleeper abductor for three years in such circumstances.


       

 

In another scene, one of Carroll’s accomplices, wanted by the police for recent killings slips into a house unnoticed because he is disguised as - are you sitting down for this! – a policeman. This cliché works only because it is a cliché and takes our minds off what should be obvious but isn’t because the tension is so high at this point: that the police guarding the house are on the lookout for only two people who faces they know: Carroll and his accomplice, who is, in fact, a policeman!!

 

As is usual for such shows, the performances are only as good as the scripts, which, except as just noted, are pretty good. Carroll, is not nearly as insightful an adversary as, say, The Governor, in AMC’s The Walking Dead, whose ability to use people’s fearful reservations to explain away his own cruelty is without peer on current television. Carroll simply holds all the cards and plays them in the order he thinks will get the juiciest results. This can make for an enticing thriller but is devoid of precious mastery of the cat and mouse game.


       

 

Critical Reviews:

USA Today:

Fox brings us The Following, one of the most violent, and certainly the most frightening, series ever made by a commercial broadcast network. In the first four episodes made available for preview, people are dispatched in any number of gruesome ways by dispatchers who engage in a peculiarly perverse form of blood lust -- and who instill the palpable fear that something even worse could happen to anyone at any moment. . . The driving creative force behind The Following is Kevin Williamson, who proved he knows horror in Scream and something about the mechanics of stretching out a TV soap in Dawson's Creek. He doesn't always play fair; some plot twists seem implausible at best, others are overdone or gratuitous. But some implausibility comes with the horror/suspense genre, and there's no question Williamson has mastered it -- just as there's no question that the match of wills between the wounded Bacon and malevolent Purefoy is exceedingly well played. – Robert Bianco


       

 

Slant Magazine:

However, in the face of its intriguing foundation, The Following stumbles in one key area: providing believable explanations as to how and why Carroll's unshakable followers are so enamored by him, throwing away their lives in order to annihilate in the name of art and unquenched passion. Purefoy is rather restrained and listless in the role of Carroll, an educated nutjob who isn't prone to the demented outbursts that characterize the most memorable fictitious malefactors; instead the character relies on his menacing, scholarly charm to lure in unstable, potentially vulnerable fanatics. The atrocious extent of Carroll's acolytes' deadly missions. . .  seems too simplistic—a bunch of lunatics acting as variable surrogates for a much crazier maniac who exhibits the fortitude that they've been afraid to. Bacon's Hardy is a mixture of the street-smart, exhausted, depressed, alcoholic lawman whose selfless approach to life leaves him alienated and committed to nothing but his occupation. It's a performance that almost always feels sincere, frequently teetering on the edge of triteness, but never toppling over. His best moments are, peculiarly, not when matching wits with Carroll in the interrogation room, but with Carroll's ex-wife, Claire Matthews (Natalie Zea), and his new field partner, Mike Weston (Shawn Ashmore). – Mike Lechevallier


       

  

Image, Audio & Music: 9/8/6

Slightly and naturally desaturated, the unfiltered Arri Alexa HD video image looks just fine, if unremarkable. No gripes. No raves. As for the audio: it’s all there: the dialogue is clear - I never had to reach for hearing impaired subtitles – the effects and music tracks are nicely balanced with the dialogue. The surrounds are more naturalized, less explosive than I would have expected considering the genre. Effective, immersing, but no WOW factor. While John Frizzell’s music does journeyman work to establish mood and the desired tension, his score leaves a generic, forgettable impression.


       

 

Recommendation: 6

Despite my own feeling about this series, which is that it is long on lunatics and gratuitous bloodletting and short on psychological subtlety or compelling characters, I should note that it was nominated for a Saturn Award Best Network Television Series and won the Saturn for Best Actor (Kevin Bacon). John Frizzell also picked up a BMI TV Music Award for his scoring. (The Saturn is an annual award offered by the Academy of Science Fiction, Fantasy & Horror Films.) If you think you could become a sadistic cult-follower or at all worried if you could become one given the opportunity, you  should find much to savor in this slice and dice series. With pertinent and more than adequate bonus features plus DVD inclusions, Warner’s home video release should please fans of the series.

 

Leonard Norwitz

© LensViews

December 31, 2013


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