Ask Matt: The Following, Elementary, Big Bang, Bones, Last Resort, Happy Endings and More
Kevin Bacon | Photo Credits: FOX
Question: I rely on your advice for new shows, so is The Following worth watching? I love Kevin Bacon, but I have given up on The Mentalist because of the whole Red John thing. If they had laid that to rest when it appeared that they did, I would still be watching. It seems like this new show will be very similar, but I haven't heard enough to make a decision. What do you think? — Tom
Matt Roush: The Following couldn't be less similar to The Mentalist. I'm recommending The Following in a review that will be in this week's issue of TV Guide Magazine (Kevin Bacon is the focus of the cover story) and posted online when the show premieres, but the show's not going to be for everyone. Where The Mentalist is an agreeably escapist procedural befitting the CBS brand, with a charming if haunted hero and an over-arcing manhunt story that I agree has been teased and played out for too long, The Following is a total thriller, aiming more for a cable-weaned audience thirsting for extremes of violence and ghoulish plotting. (Think Dexter, the early years.) There is a cunning mastermind psychopath, but we know his identity immediately (played with creepy charisma by James Purefoy), and while like Red John he has minions carrying out his bloody bidding, this isn't so much a manhunt as it is a cat-and-mouse dance of death that builds much of its suspense out of making us wonder who among us might be lying in wait to turn the tables on our damaged hero (Bacon, who's also very good). Some of the villain's deranged acolytes also become characters with their own subplots, and the show is much more serialized than the likes of The Mentalist. It's a risky, gutsy, dark and sick and scary show. If that sounds like your sort of thing, you should at least check out the diabolical pilot. It's been making noise for a reason.
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Question: While I personally thought that the introducing of the Moriarty persona on Elementary went quite smoothly, my mother was a bit alarmed by the fact that Holmes went as far as to pretend to be about to torture a man who turns out to simply be a hired hand for the real one and, after getting info out of him, stabbing him — which was shown graphically, a first for violence on the show (and yes, I have kept track) — albeit not in an area of vital organs. After the episode was over, she asked me if he was going to continue to do acts of that nature in the future, and, while I assured her that he probably wouldn't, it's not like I have a crystal ball, so my question is: Will he actually continue to do illegal acts of that nature in the future (it counts as assault)? — Luke
Matt Roush: I don't know for sure, either, and wouldn't really want to, because at this stage, we're meant to be left wondering just when and what it would take for Sherlock to lose control again. Like you, I doubt we'll see him go this far very often. It seemed to me that the "M." storyline is intended to bring out the worst and most extreme behaviors in Sherlock, which Jonny Lee Miller played very well. The Holmes presented in Elementary is that of a broken and unstable hero — Watson is keeping close watch on him for a reason — and viewers may well be disturbed, but shouldn't necessarily be put off when a character like this is taken to the edge from time to time. Even on CBS.