What To Watch – The Following

It feels like we’ve been waiting for The Following for a long time.  A trailer for Fox’s new show first appeared in the autumn, popping up amongst trailers for new and returning shows to kick off the 2012-13 season on US TV alongside side shows like Elementary and Homeland.

And the wait has been a long one because The Following looks, well, different to anything else on television.  For starters, it looks extremely dark, concerning as it does, Kevin Bacon’s detective coming up against James Purefoy’s sinister looking serial killer.  More recent trailers have amped up that sinister darkness, with creepy visuals to go along with action from the show to create an overwhelming atmosphere that make the show feel very edgy and out there, especially for a network like Fox, which doesn’t seem to often take big chances when it comes to new content.

But now the wait is almost over, as The Following is coming to Sky Atlantic, 24 hours after it airs in America, and from what I’ve seen so far, it will either be one of the best shows of 2013, or a spectacular failure.  At this point it is very difficult to predict just how it will go, because there’s so little to go on, but there does seem to be a danger that it might just be too weird or too incoherent to be a success.

The Following is created by Kevin Williamson, the man that brought the world the Scream franchise, and this marks a significant change in his television work, having previously created Dawson’s Creek and The Vampire Diaries.  This show certainly looks like a very different beast to either of those shows, and even with the success of Dexter, a show about a serial killer does seem like a risky proposition.

The serial killer in question is Joe Carroll (James Purefoy), a former college professor who escapes from prison and has a network of copycat killers (hence the show’s title) who have helped him escape as well as doing anything he wants them to.  Kevin Bacon plays Ryan Hardy, a former FBI agent who originally caught Carroll, who is brought back into the fold to try and recapture Carroll before things get out of hand.

The Following is likely to be a show that will divide opinion, and it remains to be seen whether or not Fox, a network notorious for axing new shows very quickly, will stand by it and allow it to find an audience.  Either way, it seems very much like a show that will get people talking.

The Following airs on Sky Atlantic, Tuesdays at 10pm