After making an overnight name for himself back in 1996 with a little movie called Scream, The Following creator Kevin Williamson was one of the biggest names in Hollywood. Everyone wanted a piece of the action, begging him to write something for them. And for better and worse, the Weinstein Brothers (Bob and Harvey) had him in the palm of their hands. With the 1997 double whammy of I Know What You Did Last Summer and Scream 2, Williamson was the master the until-then flailing teen horror. Soon enough, TV came calling and he created the hugely successful Dawson’s Creek.
After six seasons of teen drama, he took another swing at the Scream-formula only with werewolves, and let’s just say studio heads prevailed in neutering what should have wound up being a modern American Werewolf in London. Needless to say, Williamson needed a hit, and turned his sights on the L.J. Smith book series The Vampire Diaries. Another smash show was born. But it didn’t take Williamson to return to his roots in a sense, with the serial killer procedural The Following. With another hit on his hands, Williamson returns with even more twists and turns – regardless of how preposterous it can getthis season of The Following is even more fun – with The Following: The Complete Second Season, available on Blu-ray in a DVD/UltraViolet combo pack from Warner Bros. Home Entertainment.
Catching up with FBI agent Ryan Hardy (Kevin Bacon) one year after almost catching serial killer/cult leader Joe Carroll (James Purefoy), Ryan is trying to get his life back in order. Attending AA meetings and teaching classes at the New York College of Criminal Justice, Ryan is called back into action after a subway attack by a new cult lead by Lily Gray (Connie Nielson) and her twin sons Mark and Luke (both played by Sam Underwood). The subway massacre is only the beginning as Ryan is entangled into a whole new world of terror as Lily tries to lure Joe out of hiding – something Ryan is obsessed with also, much to the chagrin of his niece Max (Jessica Stroup) and former partner Mike Weston (Shawn Ashmore). But we all know Ryan won’t stop until he finds piece of mind trying to put Carroll back in his final resting place, if he’s still alive.
The video presentation of The Complete Second Season slashes its way onto Blu-ray in its original 1.78:1 aspect ratio, nearly flawlessly. Were it not for a very few blink and you’d miss them instances of noise in the darkest of areas, this is a top-notch presentation. Using plenty of natural lighting to keep the audience as in the dark as its characters, black levels are top notch with no crush in sight. At least not by way of the encode. If the director doesn’t want you to see something, it’s wholly intentional. With the 15 episodes spread out across three 50GB discs, compression errors are fleeting. No aliasing or banding here. Skin tones are completely natural, if a little on the anemic side, but blood is as bright as it should be in a show coated with it. As for the 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio track, bass is the best part, keeping the tone as menacing as it should be. Surrounds could use a little more activity to envelope the viewer, but it gets the job done. Music and action never drowns out any of the dialogue either. Also available are French and Spanish 2.0 Dolby Digital tracks, along with English SDH, French, and Spanish subtitles.
For a TV series Blu-ray release, The Complete Second Season comes with a huge array of features. 14 “Inside The Following” behind-the-scenes featurettes are episode specific – which means they are spoiler heavy. Because of this I am only including the names of the episodes: “Resurrection” (1:44), “For Joe” (1:29), “Trust Me” (1:34), “Family Affair” (1:42), “Reflection” (1:39), “Fly Away” (1:54), “Sacrifice” (1:59), “The Messenger” (2:04), “Unmasked” (1:49), “Teacher’s Pet” (1:49), “Freedom” (1:44), “Betrayal” (1:43), “The Reaping” (1:58), and “Forgive” (2:05). The cast and crew take the time to prove how hard they work to bring the show out every week and make sure they keep the stakes high enough that you forget you’re watching network programming.
A collection of “Unaired Scenes” (called “Severed Scenes” on the case) also are spoiler heavy and are episode specific as well: “For Joe” (1:21), “Family Affair” (2:12), “Reflection” (2:33), “Sacrifice” (5:36), “The Messenger” (1:48), “Teacher’s Pet” (2:03), “Betrayal” (2:41), “The Reaping” (3:34), and “Silence” (3:59) – which also gets it’s own “Sneak Peek” (1:03) which you really should avoid watching if going into the season fresh.
The first disc contains the best feature: the 2013 San Diego Comic-Con panel featuring stars Kevin Bacon, James Purefoy, Shawn Ashmore, and Valorie Curry. Also on hand is Williamson along with executive producer/director Marcos Siega. Purefoy’s introduction alone is worth watching, fun stuff. The rest of the special features are all on the third disc: “Follow Marcos Siega” (18:12) is an in-depth look at juggling his producing duties while directing half the season’s episodes. “The Religion of Joe Carroll” (9:20) explores Joe’s grander aspirations, “Bound By a Common Foe” (6:34) focuses on Ryan and Mike’s relationship. A “Season 2 Alternate Ending” (4:37) shows a drastically different ending, which honestly would have closed the door on a lot of opportunities for season three. And finally, “The Joe Mask” (4:37) shows the evolution of the Joe Carroll mask worn by the new cult.
The Following never tries to be ground-breaking, but it does manage to put some fun new twists into the serial killer genre – even within the confines of network television. Williamson continues to put his cast through the wringer, and let’s just say that this season is even more kill-heavy than the first. There are of course some eye-roll inducing moments and characters are never above making a personal choice to serve the plot mechanics than rational thought, but with Bacon keeping Purefoy on his toes through an even bigger season, I can only imagine how season three will manage to better The Complete Second Season. Featuring stellar picture, and a plethora of extras, this season of The Following is even more fun and I can’t wait to see what Williamson has in store for poor Ryan Hardy next season.
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