About the only sure thing that can be predicted about tonight's second-season finale of The Following (WZTV-Channel 17, 8 p.m.) is nothing will happen the way anyone expects. Among this season's surprises were the resurrection of Joe Carroll (James Purefoy), the appearance of a psycho twin named Luke (Sam Underwood), and the evolution of Lily Gray (Connie Nielsen) into a character nearly as wacko and scary as Carroll.
Another battle between Ryan Hardy (Kevin Bacon) and Carroll looms, with Gray also playing a pivotal role. It will take place on a site that's under the control of Gray and her cronies. Otherwise, no one knows what will commence, or who will survive.
However, since the show's been renewed for a third season, Bacon will probably make it out OK. Beyond that, it's anybody's guess.
CSI goes CPU
Since its debut in 2000, CSI: Crime Scene Investigation has proven one of CBS' most profitable and popular shows. For several years there were spinoff versions going in Miami and New York, and there were even rumors of additional shows planned for New Orleans and Los Angeles that thankfully were never developed.
Evidently, though, the powers that be at the network can't be content with just one CSI on the airwaves. The latest pilot for another potential CSI spinoff airs 9 p.m. Wednesday on WTVF-Channel 5 and spotlights a new area for forensic crime fighters, the world of cyberspace.
This episode features Patricia Arquette as FBI special agent Avery Ryan, whose specialty is cyber crimes. She comes to Las Vegas to provide the CSI team with her expertise on a case that blends murder and an Internet sex ring. If the episode generates enough response, CBS plans to air a series based on her exploits.
Arquette previously spent seven years on NBC's Medium, and the network reportedly has a proposed title, CSI:Cyber. The show's executive producer Anthony Zuiker described Arquette's character to TV Guide as a "criminal behaviorist who understands the art of manipulation. She reads facial tics and body language and is not above using lies and tricks to get things out of you."
Some other areas the proposed show would examine include identity theft, privacy and copyright issues, even legal questions involving websites and what constitutes defamation and libel online versus print. Arquette would also be the first woman lead star on any CSI show.
CBS got decent but not great ratings for its recent pilot for a proposed NCIS spinoff in New Orleans. Maybe audiences are getting weary of seeing the same thing in different packages, even if they feature people they've previously enjoyed watching in other shows. If more of these shows fail, the networks might actually try fresh ideas rather than umpteen versions of the same show.
When Law & Order creator Dick Wolf created Chicago Fire last season, the general consensus was this represented a last-ditch effort to maintain a presence on NBC. The show was considered a longshot prospect to last beyond a season.
Wolf reluctantly opted for a serialized format, and the show's debut got poor reviews. Yet it steadily forged a larger-than-anticipated audience and won a second season.
Then came a spinoff Chicago PD, that was universally derided as the worse show on broadcast TV. Besides the array of constitutional violations its cops regularly committed, the plots were ultra-simple and the production and acting weak by even the meager standards of weekly episodic TV.
Of course it's also become a success, so much so both shows have been renewed for another year. Wolf regularly presents crossover episodes between the shows, and this week's episodes of Chicago Fire and Chicago PD (WSMV-Channel 4, 9 p.m. Tuesday and Wednesday respectively) revolve around the bombing of a hospital and the subsequent search for those responsible.
The explosion targets both firefighters and police, and a key character, paramedic Dawson (Monica Raymund), is missing. The search for her is linked to a domestic terrorist with a grudge against both the firehouse and police station. Killing key characters has almost become a meme this season, so don't rule out any possibilities.