Boy was I disappointed. Then I happened to read a big cover story in TV Guide (at the doctor's office) about "The Following." The magazine article talks about how bloody and brutal the show is, which is true, but they don't talk about the show's content. Or lack of content.
After all, isn't the point of drama to deliver some insight into human nature, some revelation that sheds light on the human condition? Shouldn't the drama be after some kind of truth? Shouldn't we learn something about ourselves?
For me, the trouble with "The Following" is not so much the brutality, which is almost impossible to watch. How many slit throats and bodies covered in blood do you want to see? The problem is that all that bloodshed serves no purpose. Where is the drama? The insight? The revelation?
I don't mean a message. Samuel Goldwyn is supposed to have said, "If you want to send a message, use Western Union." (Today it would be a text or e-mail.)
This new TV show almost leans toward meaning a couple of times. What is the price cops pay for dealing with all this horror? And how do they deal with it? The show starts to confront that question then shies away from it. Too heavy, I guess. We don't want to engage the intellect of the audience, do we? Why would we do that? We might strain their collective brain.
For any kind of insight into cop life that I have seen, you have to go all the way back to early Joseph Wambaugh's novels like "The Choir Boys" and "The New Centurions."
Those were great funny true books, full of insight into what it's like to be a cop and what that does to human nature. I remember one scene where two cops are dealing with a fatal car accident. A motorist's head has been severed. One poor woman pulls up and asks what happened. A cop holds up the severed head and makes a smart-ass remark.
Brutal, but funny in a macabre way. The brutality serves a purpose in the veteran hands of former cop Wambaugh. But not so in this new TV show.
The only purpose for the over-kill (so to speak) of brutality in "The Following" seems to be to convince us that the bad guys are really bad. They are evil and they are dangerous. Duh. I guess we couldn't figure that out with fewer bodies. These TV producers must think we are awfully thick-headed.
Have we sunk to this? Do we have to see buckets of blood and rooms full of dead people to be entertained?
I sure hope not.
I still admire Kevin Bacon's work as an actor. But I don't know if I can keep watching the show.