..."The Following" is a psychological crime procedural of sorts with an overarching story arc about a cult of followers of a serial killer, with all the humor and charm of "Criminal Minds" (also on at 9 pm on a broadcast network) and the warm appeal of the Manson Family.
For Fox I see it more like "Prison Break" in that they're trying to get an audience for a Monday time slot with something not too different than what wins time slots for CBS.
Apparently some sensitive folks think its far more violent than "Prison Break." They either didn't watch Fox on Mondays from the fall of 2005 through the spring of 2009 or have short memories as "Prison Break" won a People's Choice Award in 2006.
Admittedly this show is likely to have a few more Theodore "T-Bag" Bagwell's, that lovable, cunning, violent, and manipulative psychopath...
I think the difference here is the level of gratuity rather than the level of violence, what is perceived appropriate or not appropriate. The violence on Prison Break
, or even on Criminal Minds
, which has devolved into psycho of the week (I hung with it until all the hot chicks left) seems almost appropriate for the subject matter, even if just as or even more violent. Others may say that the subject matter on The Following
isn't exactly a Disney movie, but for some reason I can't quite put my finger on the violence seems gratuitous, purposeful rather than incidental, and shoehorned in for cheap shock value. Sorry, that's a turn-off.
And I freely admit that humans are violent by nature; just google the crusades or the inquisition to get an idea. Man's inhumanity to man is legendary and all-pervasive. The purges in Russia, aggression by Japan against China in the 30's, our wars in Iraq and Afghanistan (and Vietnam), waterboarding one person 180+ times just to get revenge on Bin Laden; we have a very violent track record. Sandy Hook. Aurora. Countless daily shootings all over the USA. Who but humans could come up with crucifixion, the iron maiden, or the anal pear? NFL football, anyone? The Big Game is right around the corner.
And I also admit that the high points for me in The Sopranos
, were always when someone got whacked. Endlessly entertaining otherwise, but peaking at a moment when a mob guy has his head rolled over by an SUV that somehow came out of park at a gas station. We love that stuff.
But on our own terms; it has to be appropriate to the situation, and not gratuitous. I think The Following
has not yet learned where that line is; either that, or they damned well know where it is and are intent on crossing it regularly.
And cleverness or talent buys you license. By that I mean that if you do this cleverly or with talented writing and direction, the same level of violence seems appropriate where if you do it ham-handedly and without much talent or cleverness, that exact same level of violence automatically becomes inappropriate. Like stand-up comedy, it's all in the delivery, all in the timing as to what is funny and how funny. The joke is the same whether you are Chris Rock who can kill on stage, or Michael Richards who gets killed for what he says on stage. Kevin Williamson or whatever his name is might know how to write and produce teen angst for the CW such as Dawson's Creek
, but just maybe he's in over his head this time.
Edited by TomCat, 28 January 2013 - 07:07 PM.