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The Following: The Complete First Season(TV) (2013)
Former FBI agent Ryan Hardy attempts to recapture serial killer Joe Carroll 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.
For more about The Following: The Complete First Season and the The Following: The Complete First Season Blu-ray release, see the The Following: The Complete First Season Blu-ray Review published by Kenneth Brown on January 13, 2014 where this Blu-ray release scored 3.5 out of 5.
Starring: Kevin Bacon, Shawn Ashmore, James Purefoy, Valorie Curry, Natalie Zea, Sam Underwood
Director: Marcos Siega
» See full cast & crew
The Following: The Complete First Season Blu-ray Review
One implausibility, one plot hole and one shark-jump too many...
Reviewed by Kenneth Brown, January 13, 2014
The Following boasts an intriguing premise that all too quickly and all too eagerly succumbs to gimmickry and overly convoluted plotting before its rickety 15-episode first season even hits its stride. Just don't tell that to the millions of viewers who tuned in each week (or faithfully DVR'd or downloaded each episode as it were), or to the legion of bloodthirsty fans waiting with baited breath for next week's debut of Season Two. The Following is either trash TV or the next great guilty pleasure, depending on which side of the divide you stand. For some, the Kevin Bacon-led procedural is a taught, suspenseful, downright terrifying thriller as unpredictable as it is unsettling. For others, it edges nearer and nearer to self-parody, relying on leaps, gaps and chasms in logic that make it one of the sillier hits of the decade's trend-driven horror dramas. Whatever your take, the series hinges on its audience's appetites. Craving slick-paced network gore, formulaic shocks, inept FBI agents and whim-of-the-minute twists and turns? Welcome to creator Kevin Williamson's Drive Thru. Try the dollar menu. Hungry for more satisfying, character-driven fine dining? Best look elsewhere. Might I recommend Hannibal?
Former agent, "Poetry of a Killer" author and criminology consultant Ryan Hardy (Kevin Bacon) returns to the FBI to assist in the apprehension of escaped serial killer Joe Carroll (James Purefoy), a dangerous fugitive Hardy hunted and captured in 2003, and who subsequently ended the agent's career after a brutal attack. Still obsessed with Edgar Allen Poe, Carroll uses his newfound freedom to target Hardy, not only because of Hardy's role in arresting Carroll ten years earlier but because Hardy had an affair with the madman's ex-wife, Claire (Natalie Zea). Carroll isn't working alone this time, though. During his stint in prison, he assembled a cult of homicidal followers willing to do anything and everything at the behest of their beloved leader. Even after Carroll is detained -- yet again -- his followers begin to amass victims and threaten the lives and safety of Hardy, Claire and her son, Joey (Kyle Catlett), who's kidnapped by a trio of young zealots: Emma (Valorie Curry), Jacob (Nico Tortorella) and Paul (Adan Canto). Teamed with agent Mike Weston (Shawn Ashmore) and specialist Debra Parker (Annie Parisse), Hardy races to thwart Carroll's plans, ferret out the serial killer's followers, rescue Joey and protect Claire.
The Following's greatest asset is its ability to surprise. Surrounding Hardy is a revolving door of supporting players, some of whom live, some of whom come within a hair's breadth of death, some of whom wind up face down in a pool of their own blood. Like The Walking Dead (the first and only time I'll be using that little phrase), you never quite know who's going to take a bullet -- or a blunt blade -- to the chest, making every encounter with Carroll or one of his many, many, far too many followers a potentially fatal one. On the flipside, one of The Following's biggest shortcomings is its casting. Plenty of characters bite the dust, sure. But you'll probably find yourself barking "good riddance" more often than screaming "noooooo!" Moving beyond Bacon, Purefoy, Ashmore and Zea, there isn't a lot of performance power or prowess to be found. Whether it's due to the oft-times cringe-inducing dialogue, the sheer ridiculousness of some of the series' more ludicrous subplots, or the savvy of the actors themselves doesn't really matter. For every movie star dipping his toe in the TV waters, there's two or three familiar D-list faces doing cannonballs off the side.
Whereas shows like Dexter, Hannibal, Bates Motel and American Horror Story enhance suspension of disbelief with surrealism, unnerving cinematography and disquieting sound design -- effectively coaxing viewers into accepting increasingly implausible developments in their stories -- The Following takes a stab at good ol' fashioned reality, making it harder and harder to accept its serial killer cult as anything more than a catchy premise stretched to the point of incredulity. The fact that the FBI is staffed with clinically diagnosed dimwits who make one too many bone-headed decisions doesn't help, nor does Williamson's need to cram love triangles (plural) into yet another series. Yes, there's enough on tap to anoint the series a potential addiction, as its enviable ratings will attest. Bacon chews scenery, donning the body of a man who looks like an emaciated, varicose veined skeleton fighting the fight of his waning life. And Purefoy is deliciously evil, chewing whatever scenery Bacon hasn't greedily gobbled down. (Despite playing a maniac whose actions never quite add up. That, though, is a rant for a more spoiler-laden review.) Sadly, the farther you move past Bacon and Purefoy, the deeper into The Following's pit of flaws and faults you'll find yourself. Only the more instantaneous addicts among you will make it to season's end unscathed. The majority of those who remain detached or distant will fall away, one by one, long before the manufactured cliffhangers of "The Final Chapter" leave them shaking their heads and sighing, "Season Two? No thanks."
The Following: The Complete First Season Blu-ray, Video Quality
The Following: The Complete First Season features a solid 1080p/AVC-encoded video presentation. There are a number of inconsistencies and a few anomalies -- contrast is a bit unwieldy, noise spikes, crush invades and ringing appears from time to time -- but most, if not all of it is a product of the series' photography and source. Nothing more sinister. Detail is quite good, although also rather unpredictable. Edges are often crisp and clean, textures are generally well-resolved, and delineation is decent... and yet softness abounds. Colors are strong and expressive too, albeit sometimes at the expense of lifelike hues. Primaries pack punch (reds in particular), skintones are nicely saturated, and black levels are rich and satisfying (minus a few unsightly nighttime scenes). There also isn't much in the way of artifacting, banding, aliasing or other unwanted visitors. Each episode's encode is precise and proficient, just as it should be. All told, The Following may not be the most striking series, but its high definition presentation doesn't disappoint.
The Following: The Complete First Season Blu-ray, Audio Quality
Warner's DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 surround track doesn't exactly deliver the most engrossing lossless experience, but I seriously doubt the series could sound much better than it does here. Dialogue is clear and intelligible at all times, with perfectly competent prioritization and nothing in the way of muffled voices. Low-end output is sturdy and suitably aggressive when called upon, even though chases and more intense encounters are often the only scenes in which the LFE channel earns its keep. Rear speaker activity is notably assertive as well, deploying accurate directionality and smooth pans to each episode's benefit. That said, the show toys with its audience every step of the way; holding everything back until the moment order and sanity come undone. The result is a soundfield that's bitterly quiet and subdued before it springs into action. When it pounces, though, prepare to be impressed.
The Following: The Complete First Season Blu-ray, Special Features and Extras
The Following: The Complete First Season Blu-ray, Overall Score and Recommendation
The Following didn't work for me. Lost me, actually, within a small handful of episodes. 7+ million viewers can't be quote-unquote wrong, though, so there's plenty here to love, regardless of how put off I was by its mounting implausibilities, casting issues and scripting shortfalls. But that's the joy of television: one man's Breaking Bad is another man's Under the Dome. Warner's Blu-ray release of The Complete First Season is less divisive. With a strong video presentation, no-nonsense DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 surround track, and a solid selection of special features, the 3-disc set will make any Following fan a happy follower.
The Following: Other Seasons
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The Following: The Complete First Season Blu-ray, News and Updates
• Exclusive Giveaway: The Following - January 6, 2014
Blu-ray.com and Warner Bros. Home Entertainment are offering three members the opportunity to win a copy of creator Kevin Williamson's The Following: The Complete First Season, starring Kevin Bacon, James Purefoy, Natalie Zea, Shawn Ashmore, Annie Parisse, Nico ...
• The Following: The Complete First Season Blu-ray - September 19, 2013
Warner Bros. Home Entertainment has announced the Blu-ray/DVD/UltraViolet combo pack release of creator Kevin Williamson's The Following: The Complete First Season, starring Kevin Bacon, James Purefoy, Natalie Zea, Shawn Ashmore, Annie Parisse, Nico Tortorella, ...
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