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Hannibal Lecter is no Joe Carroll, but is that a good thing? Ask The Following

- January 21st, 2013

James Purefoy and Kevin Bacon

PASADENA, Calif. – The Following has been put in a bit of an uncomfortable situation because of what it’s following.

A consistent line of questioning at the recent Television Critics Association tour centred upon the relationship, if any, between TV and movie violence, and the percentage of people prone to committing violent acts in real life.

The violent acts that have plagued society in the past few months have been well documented, so there is no need to detail them here.

Specifically with regard to The Following, which debuts Monday, Jan. 21 on Fox and CTV, I have to tell you what my honest first reaction was when I watched it:

Sigh, ANOTHER show about killers. More specifically, another show about serial killers.

I almost felt guilty watching it.

That’s not to say The Following isn’t reasonably well done. It is. And with Kevin Bacon (above right) and James Purefoy (above left) leading the cast, it’s the biggest-buzz debut of TV’s “new fall,” a.k.a., January.

Bacon plays former FBI agent Ryan Hardy, who is called back to the bureau because of a serial killer he helped put behind bars. The killer’s name is Joe Carroll, played by Purefoy.

In addition to their “good guy versus bad guy” history, Ryan and Joe have a personal history as well. The latter seems to have made it his life’s mission to taunt and torment the former.

Ryan soon discovers that Joe has inspired an ever-growing cult of followers who are more than willing to do his bidding, either directly or philosophically.

“But these are people who don’t need the slightest bit of convincing to do the things that they do,” Purefoy explained.

“These are people who have joined up with (Joe) because he offers them a non-judgmental and a safe place to enact the things that they want to do. So these aren’t people who were forced to join a cult. These are absolutely willing accomplices.

“I’ve been thinking a lot about this and about The Silence of The Lambs, and that actually as we shoot the show more and more, I’m more and more convinced of how little Hannibal Lecter‘s vision … how unimpressive it is. Like, I mean, really, he could only see up to the next meal.”

To which Bacon added, “He (Hannibal Lecter) is no Joe Carroll.”

Amusing quips aside, the fog of violence in The Following is very thick. The show doesn’t break any of network TV’s content rules, obviously, but situationally, it can weigh on you.

To be clear, I am absolutely not pointing my finger at The Following and making it the poster boy for TV violence.

But an interesting question moving forward is whether TV audiences will continue to embrace shows that suggest or depict significant levels of violence, or if there’s any prospect at all of viewer fatigue.

bill.harris@sunmedia.ca

@billharris_tv

“Wild Things, I think I love you,” says Dominic Monaghan

- January 15th, 2013

Dominic Monaghan - cover 2

Wild Things with Dominic Monaghan isn’t only about insects. But Dominic Monaghan does want to put a bug in your ear.

“It irks me, to say the least, when people just dismiss them or kill them,”   Monaghan said. “A spider, ew, they kill it.

“It wasn’t doing anything to you. It doesn’t really know you exist. It wants to be in shadow, it has come out into the light, it’s trying to get back into shadow, and for some reason you think it’s coming to kill you. It’s not, it’s just trying to find a safe place where it can stay alive.

“I’m just keen on breaking the myths that a lot of people think about insects, which is that for some reason they’re out to get us, that they’re evil little animals who wake up in the morning and say, ‘Kill the humans!’ That’s not their path.”

Monaghan, an actor well-known for his roles in Lost and The Lord of the Rings, is passionate about all kinds of animals. Wild Things with Dominic Monaghan – which debuts Monday, Jan. 21 on OLN – is an extension of Monaghan’s regular life, and even his home movies.

Wild Things essentially is the way I’ve always vacationed as an adult,” Monaghan said. “I’ll usually look for an animal I’m interested in seeing, and then I’ll go to that particular place. That was the pitch (for Wild Things) that I gave out to companies.

“The show obviously has a deep correlation with the natural world, but it’s also a little bit of a travelogue, mixed with some food, it’s just about me and what I did.”

And it’s not just about the creepie-crawlies, even if Monaghan doesn’t find them creepy.

“We obviously used a lot of insects in the show as target animals because I’m a big fan of the underdog and the misunderstood,” Monaghan said. “They’re easy to find and they’re everywhere. But we also do a lot of stuff about snakes and lizards and certain types of mammals. If we find it, we usually film it.

“But as an order of animals, insects are the most important on the planet, by such a huge degree. The only thing that distinguishes us, humans, making us think that we’re in any way important is our ability to create art and technology. Apart from that, we’re the most destructive species on the planet. Worms and beetles, they create the planet, they continue to allow it to live and breathe.”

So if Wild Things speaks directly to Monaghan’s interests, has acting been something of a diversion?

“I always wanted to be an actor, but like a lot of people, I’m a lot of things,” Monaghan said. “I’m a huge (English) football fan. I’m a fan of food and travel and animals and movies. This is just one of the other things I’m passionate about, although you probably see more of me, because I’m not playing a character.

“If someone didn’t like me in Lost, I could say, ‘Well, they didn’t like Charlie.’ But if they don’t like this, then they probably don’t like me. That’s what I have to come to terms with.”

No worries, Dominic. You’re as likeable as a spider.

bill.harris@sunmedia.ca

@billharris_tv