Looks like movie star Kevin Bacon now has a “Following” of TV fans, too. His new serial killer drama premiered strong on Jan. 21 to over 10 million viewers and was the second-highest-rated drama debut of the season in the key Adults 18-49 demo. Better yet, the show passed the week 2 litmus test — last week’s second episode held up in the ratings and even grew slightly.
That must be a relief for its high-profile star. When xfinityTV recently interviewed Kevin Bacon, he admitted that he feels “a lot of pressure” for the show to succeed. “There’s a lot at stake,” he told us. Fox is desperate for a new hit, and it isn’t getting the pop from “American Idol” that it used to and “The X Factor” again under-delivered in Season 2, while two of the network’s freshman series have been cancelled (“The Mob Doctor,” “Ben and Kate”).
So it seems initial concern over whether or not “The Following’s” graphic violence and grim tone would put off viewers hasn’t rattled the ratings, or the star. “I wasn’t surprised, we knew that’s on a lot of people’s minds and it’s a fair question to ask,” Bacon said of the show’s shock value, the level of which is normally reserved for cable fare. To Bacon, it’s just “a cool story about life and death” and he’s excited to be a part of it.
The show centers around Bacon’s alcoholic, un-retired FBI Agent Ryan Hardy, who’s lured back into the chase when the case of a serial killer that he put away 10 years earlier resurfaces with a vengeance. A criminal mastermind and former lit professor obsessed with Edgar Allan Poe, Joe Carroll (James Purefoy) escapes prison and is soon re-captured, but he’s deadlier than ever now that he’s secretly cultivated a cult following of demented disciples to do his bidding while he’s behind bars. Complicating the scenario: Hardy had an affair with the murderer’s ex-wife.
“The Following” is carving out quite a presence on network TV. It’s rare for a broadcast show to be capable of giving viewers a jolt like this dark drama has, but scenes like carving out a pretty blonde’s eyes and bad guys dropping out of the ceiling have some viewers jumping off the couch. One particular scene from episode 2 in which a Poe masked man jumped out of nowehere and attacked Hardy was a real scream.
“Chapter 2″ brought several new intriguing elements to the story. First, the introduction of “cults expert” Agent Debra Parker (Annie Parisse), who replaces the unlikable FBI agent Jennifer Mason (Jeananne Goossen) featured in the pilot. Second, that cult member behind the creepy Edgar Allan Poe masks (see photo above) setting a man on fire in the street. And a rather juicy revelation about the twisted trio of the babysitter and the “gay” couple next door who kidnapped Carroll’s son. Oh, and Jordy the Apprentice Serial Killer nearly took out Claire (Natalie Zea) after the worst police protection team ever failed once again.
For now, Joe Carroll has the power, and Ryan Hardy’s mettle will be tested.
“I have good days and I have bad days. I climb out of the rabbit hole and sometimes I fall back into it,” Bacon said of playing the troubled Hardy, the good guy who keeps getting one-upped by the bad guy, at least in the first several episodes.
SNEAK PEEK: Find Out How Ryan Hardy First Fell Under Joe Carroll’s Spell:
Bacon just hopes viewers will be rooting for him, and not his nemesis, considering the charmingly poetic killer is also a master of seduction.
But the scary stuff isn’t what bothers Bacon.
“I get freaked out when I see how many scenes we have to shoot the next day, we’re constantly running,” Bacon said of TV’s aggressive work pace.
It’s the first television series for the film veteran, but Bacon didn’t have to look far for TV tips: wife Kyra Sedgwick (“The Closer”). “She loves the show, we watch it together … and she gives me notes on it,” Bacon told Xfinity.
“The Following” airs Mondays at 9/8c on FOX.
Catch-up on the Second Episode of “The Following” Now on xfinityTV: