TV Review - Stalker (2014)

Dylan McDermott and Maggie Q in "Stalker"
Screenwriter Kevin Williamson created a hit show on FOX called The Following. The luxuriating in physical violence and psychopathy of that series is something he's trying to replicate here, but slightly watered-down and more in-line with the police procedural programs that are everywhere.

Maggie Q stars as Lt. Beth Davis, the head of the Threat Assessment Unit or TAU who is hardened and sporadically rude. Dylan McDermott co-stars as Jack Larsen, a detective for nine years in the NYPD who comes to Los Angeles to be Beth's right hand in the TAU. Their cases focus specifically on incidents of stalking.

While this might seem like a limited concept, Beth announces in the pilot episode that over six million people are stalked in the United States per year. Celebrity stalking is only 10 % of all cases. One in six are women and one in nineteen are men. All of those statistics are on the rise, thanks to social media. This means there are a wealth of cases to explore here, but Williamson shoots himself in the foot by making this show an odd relative of The Following where it's just week after week of crazy or really creepy people who always escalate to deadly violence.

The MTV series Catfish: The TV Show did a better job of exploring stalking in the digital age than this show has thus far and probably ever will. That MTV series does a better job of digging into or discussing psychology or sociology, whereas this show just throws out outrageous horror set-pieces. The pilot episode opens with a scene that mimics the opening to Scream (1996), which Williamson wrote. Children being thrown in car trunks and lesbian brides being shot in the head comprise the depravity Williamson's show discharges in next episodes. It's trash.

The pilot episode though does something really egregious and does a storyline that could have been interesting, yet Williamson totally ruins it. Beth investigates a case involving Perry Whitley, played by Erik Stocklin, who gets assaulted by his roommate Eric, played by Daren Kagasoff. Eric accuses Perry of stalking him, but more specifically, Eric thinks Perry secretly recorded him having sex and then posted that sex video online.

This storyline mirrors a famous gay bullying case at Rutgers University where Tyler Clementi was secretly videotaped having sex with his boyfriend by his roommate Dharun Ravi. As a result of cyberbullying from Ravi, Clementi committed suicide by jumping off the George Washington Bridge. Here, Williamson turns it around and makes the gay student the bully. Perry is the bully, but Williamson tries to couch such criticism by saying Perry isn't gay.

Yet, to take this story of gay bullying and twist it this way is a bit offensive. It's more a waste of opportunity. Williamson had a golden opportunity to tell a gay bullying story, but instead he completely drops the ball. He doesn't just drop it. He takes a butcher knife and stabs into it, totally deflating the ball.

There are other characters played by Mariana Klaveno, Victor Rasuk and Elisbeth Rohm, but nothing this show does make me care about any of them.

One Star out of Five.
Rated TV-14-DSV.
Running Time: 1 hr.
Wednesdays at 10PM on CBS.


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