Review: ‘The Following’ – ‘Chapter Two’

A few quick thoughts on tonight’s “The Following” coming up just as soon as I speak to people through Gothic Romanticism…

So, unsurprisingly, “The Following” debuted to good ratings last week. Relentless promotion during football doesn’t always work, but this is a show with an actor everybody likes, doing his first TV show ever, and an attention-getting concept. Tune in was solid, and nobody dropped out at the half-hour, meaning those who tuned in liked what they saw – which was largely the case in the comments last week as well.

I won’t be covering the show week to week – though depending on how ratings/interest holds up, HitFix may have someone else (who likes it more than I do) take it on as a regular thing – but I’m curious how everyone felt about “Chapter 2.” Among the critics I know, the split remained consistent: those who disliked the pilot disliked all the episodes, and those who liked it at first enjoyed it even more as it went along. But I did talk to a few who felt the accumulation of the show was more of an issue for them than any individual episode or story beat, and I wonder how many, if any, initial fans of the show feel that way as we move past movie length and get into hours 6, 7, etc., through 15.

Also, a few specific points on “Chapter 2”:

* Annie Parisse arrives as Ryan’s new superior, replacing the actress from the pilot. I like Parisse a lot, but even she can’t sell that psychobabble about “today’s Internet techno-bred minds,” which is more pretentious and empty than even the most ridiculous monologue from the early days of “Dawson’s Creek.”

* That said, there are some interesting performances here aside from Kevin Bacon. I quite like Valorie Curry as Denise/Emma, for instance, and she has to carry a lot of the real-world action while Joe remains locked up in prison.

* We begin to settle into a kind of Follower of the Week formula here, with Jordy the prison guard occupying much of Ryan’s attention even as larger stories develop involving the kidnapped son being held at the house. Balancing standalone procedural stories with bigger arcs is always tough (it’s taken Justified until this season to really feel comfortable shifting back and forth between the two, for instance). But even if this show is only doing 15 episodes a year, in success, that’s still going to require a whole lot of Joe Carroll disciples out there in the world.

That’s it for me for now. What did everybody else think?