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Primal Screen

'The Following' features the world's most unlikely evildoer

Photo: Courtesy photo, License: N/A

Courtesy photo

'The Following'


The Following (8pm Mon, Fox)

I’ve always argued that a Kevin Bacon performance is never without merit, no matter the production. But I’ve finally lost the argument with the premiere of The Following, a horror series from Kevin Williamson of Scream fame. It’s written so poorly that even Bacon bombs as a detective with a permanent Joe Friday scowl.

Williamson strained his brain to come up with the most brilliantly sick scenario ever seen on TV. He’s achieved “sick,” all right, but not “brilliant.” Even with one gruesome scene after another, it’s hard not to laugh at the idea of a diabolical English professor on an ornate killing spree inspired by Edgar Allan Poe works like “The Raven.” Would you believe that this evildoer can command his legion of cult followers to tattoo Poe quotations on their bodies and stab themselves in the eye? Or that Bacon’s character sleeps with the psycho killer’s wife while trying to crack the case? Didn’t think so.

Will Kevin Williamson still be a Hollywood player after The Following flops? Quoth the raven, ‘Nevermore.’

Archer (9pm Thu, FX)

A whole generation of people was raised on earnest cartoons like Jonny Quest and Super Friends, featuring crudely drawn heroes with square jaws, no inner life and a clear-cut sense of good and evil. For them (okay, us), Archer is the cartoon series to enjoy in adulthood. The crudely drawn spy hero has the squarest of jaws, but his pursuit of the bad guys is freighted with adult baggage. Despite his rugged physique and manly voice, Archer has all sorts of human foibles. And despite the cartoon’s innocently retro look and score, it’s loaded with sex, drugs, profanity, and violence. Oh, and most important of all: irony.

At the start of season four, Archer (voice of H. Jon Benjamin) is plagued by amnesia. How to cure him? “This isn’t The Flintstones,” says the resident scientist at spy headquarters. “We can’t just wang him over the head with a frying pan!”

Oh, but they can, and they will. That (((WANG!!!))) is music to my ears.

King of the Nerds (9pm Thu, TBS)

This reality series pits nerd against nerd: videogame experts, comic book lovers, science geeks, heavy-metal enthusiasts and others likely to begin speaking Orc at the drop of a hat. They’re eliminated in geeky competitions until the ultimate nerd is left standing. In the words of one contestant: “You can cut the tension with a light saber!”

You might expect King of the Nerds to condescend to these stringy-haired, socially challenged folks, but it actually sets out to valorize them. True, there’s irony aplenty in putting the nerds on a pedestal, but it’s all done good-naturedly. I proclaim the series a success — and believe me, as a TV blurb writer, I know a little something about nerds.

Prosecuting Casey Anthony (7pm Sat, Lifetime)

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