'The Following' heads back to Fox

Ryan Hardy (Kevin Bacon) finds himself back on the trail of his serial-killer nemesis in "The Following: Resurrection."
Ryan Hardy (Kevin Bacon) finds himself back on the trail of his serial-killer nemesis in "The Following: Resurrection."
Posted: January 17, 2014

* THE FOLLOWING. 10:30 p.m. Sunday, Fox 29. Moves back to 9 p.m. Mondays on Jan. 27.

PASADENA, Calif. - There were some things about the first season of "The Following" that even creator Kevin Williamson didn't see coming.

How inept its cult of serial killers would sometimes make the FBI look. How distracting a kid in jeopardy could be. How tricky it is wrapping a thriller around commercial breaks.

As the drama about former FBI agent Ryan Hardy (Philadelphia's Kevin Bacon) and his long dance with serial killer Joe Carroll (James Purefoy) returns to Fox Sunday with the 90-minute episode "Resurrection" - set to begin right after the NFC Championship Game - Williamson's made some changes.

So has Ryan.

It's been a year since Carroll's presumed death and Ryan's in AA. He seems less isolated, with a close relationship with his niece Max (Jessica Stroup), a New York police officer, and a teaching gig. And then, of course, the killings begin.

The FBI may again want Ryan's help, but he's not playing.

Complaints that the feds weren't exactly at the top of their game last season were justified, Williamson said this week during the Television Critics Association's winter meetings.

"There was some dumb FBI work. And it was never intentional," he said. "I never envisioned the show to be being one man in the middle of a task force. . . . He was in an investigation, and it was an investigation he could not win or [there'd be] no 15 episodes."

And then there was Carroll's son (don't worry - he's fine).

"I didn't realize this was just going to be a show about Ryan Hardy searching for little Joey," Williamson said. "You can't crack a joke if you're searching for little Joey. I write gallows humor. I like my pop culture, I like my self-awareness, I like all of that stuff," and last season "really wasn't the place for it. . . . So, no more kids."

Bacon said that he had no wish list for Season 2.

"My whole agenda is, every time I read an episode, I want to see a scene that I'm looking forward to playing, you know? We talk about stuff, but I'm not a writer. I did know that some of the things that have happened [in the coming season], whether or not I mentioned them, they are definitely what I kind of hoped for. One is to see him as a romantic person as well," and that will be happening this season.

He's also happy to have the character of his niece, "because I get a chance to connect with her, and over the course of the season, you sort of see me just a little bit try to open up to her," he said.

"I was jazzed to go back" for Season 2, he said. "I was thrilled. I liked doing it last year, and when we hit the ground running in August, I was like, 'Let's go.' "

'Sherlock' returns

Sunday, already the best, or worst, TV night of the week depending on the capacity of your DVR and your stamina, isn't getting any easier.

PBS' "Masterpiece," breaking records with "Downton Abbey" (9 p.m. Sunday, WHYY12), is going after the rest of the evening, with the third season of its "Masterpiece Mystery!" hit "Sherlock" making its debut right after "Downton," at about 9:58 p.m.

The season premiere, written by Mark Gatiss (who also plays Sherlock's brother, Mycroft), marks a surprisingly playful homecoming for the great detective, whose survival has until now been kept secret from Watson (Martin Freeman).

It may be hard to imagine anyone upstaging Benedict Cumberbatch, whose Sherlock is slightly larger than life (and certainly larger than Freeman), but "The Hobbit" star more than holds his own with his lofty co-star, bringing genuine emotion to what might otherwise feel like a James Bond stunt. (And wait till you see Freeman opposite Billy Bob Thornton in FX's limited series "Fargo," which begins April 15.)

There's also a brief appearance Sunday by a couple of people I'd never dreamed of meeting in a Sherlock Holmes story, so keep your eyes peeled.

'Looking' premieres

It took me a few episodes to warm up to "Looking," the new HBO dramedy about gay men in San Francisco that premieres at 10:30 p.m. Sunday, after "Girls."

Maybe it's because, while it's ostensibly a show about three friends - Patrick (Jonathan Groff, "Glee"), Agustin (Frankie J. Alvarez) and Dom (Murray Bartlett), only one really popped in the beginning.

That would be Patrick, a 29-year-old video-game designer who seems to be flunking relationships and whose first-date awkwardness is, well, awkward.

With marriage now on the table, a show like "Looking" might be able to go places that "Tales of the City" and "Queer as Folk" couldn't, but most of the men in "Looking" aren't there yet, or at least aren't interested in conventional domesticity.

Things get more interesting with the arrival of recurring guest stars Russell Tovey ("Being Human") and Scott Bakula ("Men of a Certain Age"), as well as Raul Castillo as someone who may just push Patrick to the next level.

"I don't know if either of us are very good at being who we think we are. Maybe we need to try a little harder," Patrick tells a friend in the show's third episode.

I don't know that "Looking" starts out being very good at what it thinks it is, either. But it's intriguing enough to be worth a second or third date before deciding.

Phone: 215-854-5950

On Twitter: @elgray

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