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‘The Following’: Kevin Bacon and James Purefoy captain the ship

By Carina Adly MacKenzie (Zap2It), Shippers, start your engines. Ready your Tumblrs. Start combing the works of Edgar Allen Poe for excellent fan fiction titles...

By  (Zap2It), Shippers, start your engines. Ready your Tumblrs. Start combing the works of Edgar Allen Poe for excellent fan fiction titles.

FOX’s new drama “The Following,”from “Scream” scribe Kevin Williamson, is a violent, provocative drama about a serial killer and the man hunting him. But, surprisingly, it’s constructed more like a romance. Kevin Bacon plays Ryan Hardy, a booze-soaked former FBI agent who gets pulled back into the job when serial killer Joe Carroll (James Purefoy) escapes from death row.

Hardy literally wrote the book on Carroll after catching him a decade earlier, following his investigation of a series of Poe-related murders on a university campus. As we’ll learn, though, their relationship is far more complicated than your basic criminal-and-cop situation.

Carroll is a master of seduction, so charming and compelling that he was able to sway a cult of followers into doing his murderous bidding. Ryan himself was not immune to Carroll’s appeal. Because Carroll was a literary professor, Ryan sought his Poe expertise during the investigation, and they became friends. He, a decorated agent, was seduced by Carroll — and because he was blinded by that, more women died.

At the FOX Television Critics Association Press Tour on Tuesday, a reporter (it wasn’t us, we swear) confessed that, having seen the first four episodes of the show, she’s rooting for Hardy and Carroll to kiss. Ever the crowd pleaser, Bacon happily grabbed Purefoy’s face and laid a smooch on him.

“Rule number one: Rule nothing in, rule nothing out,” Purefoy joked, going on to say that acting opposite Bacon is like playing tennis with a great player — he feels his craft improving in his presence.

In all seriousness, though, the show does have plenty of fodder for the ‘shipper crowd and it’s not afraid to take risks and break new ground for network television.

There is a tense love triangle brewing between the characters played by Valorie Curry, Nico Tortorella, and Adan Canto, who find themselves together in isolation from the outside world. The triangle is particularly unique because it’s truly three-sided — the men have a sexual relationship not only with Curry’s character, but with each other. In many ways, Williamson said, the sexuality on the show has been more controversial (as far as having it cleared to air) than the violence.

Tune in to “The Following” premiere on Monday, January 21 at 9 p.m. EST.