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Tuesday, October 21, 2014

The Following: The Complete Second Season Blu-ray Review

Reviewed by Jami Ferguson
Golden Globe winner and Emmy nominee Kevin Bacon and UK's James Purefoy ("Rome") star in this hit psychological thriller from Kevin Williamson ("The Vampire Diaries," Scream). Heading into its intense, spellbinding second season, the show catches up with a healthy and healed Ryan Hardy (Kevin Bacon) a year after the tragic events of last season. Following a horrific new murder spree, the FBI calls on Ryan and Mike Weston (Shawn Ashmore) to speak with the lone survivor, Lily Gray (Connie Nielsen), in order to help them solve the case. Having worked tirelessly to rehabilitate his life, Ryan is reluctant to re-engage with the FBI. Instead, he proceeds with his own investigation behind closed doors, and finds a valuable ally in his niece, Max Hardy (Jessica Stroup), an NYPD cop working in the Intel Division. Throughout the season, Ryan will cross paths with several complicated individuals, including Mandy Lang (Tiffany Boone) and the enigmatic Luke (Sam Underwood), which furthers his suspicion that Joe Carroll's (James Purefoy) reign of terror is far from over.
Show (3 1/2 out of 5 stars)
Former FBI agent Ryan Hardy (Kevin Bacon) is on the hunt for serial killer Joe Carroll.  In season one,  Carroll (James Purefoy) was aided by his followers in escaping from prison.  His followers come from all walks of life. They are male, female, young old, and often they hold positions of power.  Anyone could be a follower and it is very hard to know who to trust.  Carroll was once a respected professor with a wife and young son.  He had everything going for him and no one really knows when or why he snapped.

As season two begins, Ryan Hardy claims he wants nothing to do with the Carroll investigation.  A murder spree on a crowded subway car occurs and the killers wear incredibly lifelike Joe Carroll masks.  Soon Hardy is back at the FBI offices being questioned by the team.  The lone survivor of the attack is an art dealer named Lily Gray (Connie Nielsen).  FBI Agent Mike Weston (Shawn Ashmore) works the case, and has a hard time connecting with Hardy after all they’ve been through.  Hardy is only able to confide in his niece Max (Jessica Stroup), a NYPD Officer who assists him in his covert investigations.

Classifying this show as a thriller doesn’t do it justice.  It is really a crime drama, murder mystery, serial killer thriller.  The show has a great cast of actors that are all well cast for their roles.  You definitely believe James Purefoy is as crazy as he seems.  Shawn Ashmore has some very dramatic and touching moments that stand out in my mind as well.  Kevin Bacon, in his first television show, definitely carries the lead.  The show is well written and the viewer can never be sure that a character is not a follower or won’t become one.  No character is safe from death, which is also a bonus.  I appreciate it when a show is willing to take out a main character, no matter how sad to watch.  It’s one of the things I like about AMC’s "The Walking Dead" – anyone could be collateral damage.

This show not only holds up to repeat viewings, but I enjoyed it more the second time around.  Often when a show offers up twists and turns it falls flat once you know what they are.  With "The Following," once you know the plot twists ahead it frees you to start noticing subtle details that were overlooked in the drama of the first viewing.  
Video (4 out of 5 stars)
"The Following" is presented on Blu-ray in 1080p high definition with a 16x9 1.78:1 ratio.  The set comes with 4 DVD’s included but let’s face it I have no reason to need those.  If I were to watch this while traveling I’d use the ultraviolet copy but it’s still nice to have the DVDs anyway.  On Blu-ray, the show looks great.  It’s often dark and moody and the show remains clear and detailed.  Whether the characters are running through the woods at night or on a sunny street everything is clear and skin tones are even and accurate.
Audio (4 out of 5 stars)
"The Following’s" DTS-HD 5.1 Master Audio mix is well balanced and consistent.  Gun shots, whispers, explosions and screams all are realistic and don’t require adjustment of your television’s volume level.  Crowds have the appropriate weight and dialogue is always intelligible.
Extras (4 out of 5 stars)
The Blu-rays contain a significant number of special features that are well planned.  I especially like the fact that from any disc you can see what features are found on other discs with a brief description.  This saves you from having to put in each disc looking for one specific feature.

Blu-ray Disc One Extras: 
  • 2013 Comic Con Panel (21:01) – Executive Producer/Director Marcos Siega, Executive Producer Kevin Williamson and Actors Kevin Bacon, Shawn Ashmore and Valorie Curry are joined by “surprise guest” James Purefoy. The group discusses plot twists, character development and favorite episodes/scenes that took place after season one had aired.
  • Inside The Following
    • “Resurrection” (1:44) – Marcos Siega takes you behind the scenes of the subway killings in New York City.
    • “For Joe” (1:29) – A look at Ryan’s fight scene with Luke and Mark with Marcos Siega and Stunt Coordinator Tim Gallin.
    • “Trust Me” (1:34) – Writer/Supervising Producer Alexi Hawley talks about the challenges of writing the raid scene for television.
    • “Family Affair” (1:42) – Actors Kevin Bacon and Jessica Stroup talk about the fight in Grand Central Station.
    • “Reflection” (1:39) – Kevin Bacon, Sam Underwood and the Stunt Coordinator talk about weapons safety.
  • Unaired Scenes – Deleted scenes from “For Joe”, “Family Affair” and “Reflection”

Blu-ray Disc Two Extras: 
  • Inside The Following
    • "Fly Away” (1:54) – Valorie Curry and crew look at the airplane chase sequence.
    • “Sacrifice” (1:59) – Jessica Stroup talks about being hung from the ceiling during her abduction.
    • “The Messenger” 2:04) – Ryan attempts to escape from Dr. Streuss’ operating room.
    • “Unmasked” (1:49) – A behind the scenes look at the cult attack at the bookstore during Carrie Cook’s signing.
    • “Teacher’s Pet” (1:49) – Ryan talks Joe into giving up a clue to his location.
  • Unaired Scenes – Deleted scenes from “Sacrifice”, “The Messenger” and “Teacher’s Pet”

Blu-ray Disc Three Extras: 
  • Following Marcos Siega (18:12) – This featurette follows Executive Producer/Director Marcos Siega on set for the twists of season two.
  • The Religion of Joe Carroll (9:20) – An in depth exploration of Joe’s cult, his message and his new followers.
  • Bound by a Common Foe (6:34) – An in depth look at the relationship between Mike Hardy and Ryan Hardy.
  • Season Two Alternate Ending (4:37) – An alternate ending with introduction from Marcos Siega.
  • The Joe Mask (3:21) – A look at creating the realistic Joe Carroll masks.
  • Gag Reel
  • Inside The Following
    • “Freedom” (1:44) – Kevin Bacon talks about becoming Ryan Hardy.
    • “Betrayal” (1:43) – Ryan and Mike search the frat house.
    • “The Reaping” (1:58) – Shawn Ashmore takes us inside Weston’s decision to take revenge.
    • “Forgive” (2:05) – A look at the moment when Ryan gets his chance to kill Joe Carroll.
  • Sneak Peek – “Silence” – Marcos Siega looks at Claire’s decision to confront Joe.
  • Unaired Scenes – Deleted scenes for “Betrayal”, “The Reaping” and “Silence”. 
Summary (4 out of 5 stars)
"The Following" is definitely a show that begs for you to start at the beginning.  Even if you’ve already seen the show I recommend a refresher.  So much has happened and Fox promises that season three will “turn everything you thought you knew about "The Following" upside down.”  I thoroughly enjoyed season two and can’t wait for season three to start.  This is the type of show that’s either for you or it’s not.  The big issue is can you accept that anyone in any position of power could be a cult follower?  If you have a problem getting on board with that idea, you’ll probably pick apart the whole show and not have any fun watching it.  If you’re able to just go with it, like I am, you might have a new favorite crime thriller.  The show looks and sounds good on Blu-ray and contains a healthy set of interesting but not overwhelming extras that are well organized.

Order your copy today!

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