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JJ Abrams vs. Kevin Williamson – The 2012-13 faceoff

JJ Abrams' 'Revolution' and Kevin Williamson's 'The Following' are each debuting in the 2012-2013 television season. Bob and Debbie discuss which of their shows is more likely to succeed in this week's Quibbling Siblings.


Kevin Williamson and JJ Abrams are two creators, screenwriters and producers who have had some success in both the movies and television. This fall, JJ Abrams tries his hand at a new show on NBC, Revolution. Kevin Williamson will be debuting his new FOX show, The Following, midseason.

With our very scientific formula, which looks at the past track records of Williamson and Abrams, both in movies and television, as well as the merits of their new shows, we’ll predict which show is more likely to succeed.

Let’s start with television: Abrams has 84 episodes of Felicity, 105 episodes of Alias and 114 episodes of Lost under his belt, all with rabid fan bases. Fringe and Person of Interest aren’t too far behind. He’s also had quite a few shows that haven’t fared as well, like What About Brian?, Undercovers, Six Degrees, Alcatraz. Williamson has a lot less TV under his belt, but the success of Dawson’s Creek and The Vampire Diaries are both remarkable … as are the failures of The Secret Circle, Glory Days and Hidden Palms. Even though Abrams has more hits, he also has more recent failures. Is he losing his touch?


Television is a sneaky beast. I can’t help but point out that just because someone’s name is attached to a project does not necessarily mean they are intimately involved with the story or production. Being a bit of a Lost fanatic, I like to go back there as an example. Abrams left the show midway through season one (to work on Mission Impossible 3, which I am sure we will talk about later), came back to co-write a single episode in season 3, and then ended up watching the show when it aired on television like all the other fans. I am not as familiar with how things work on The Vampire Diaries, but I know that Julie Plec has a huge role behind the scenes. How much does Williamson do there? My only point is to question this metric.

Certainly there is merit here. The men have clearly chosen to attach their names to projects, and they are going to be judged by them no matter what the level of involvement is. Also, they (presumably) wouldn’t throw their support behind something that they don’t believe in.

At the end of the day, though, Eric Kripke is the show runner for Revolution and Williamson is the show runner for The Following.

With all that being said, I will actually answer your question: Williamson’s successes, in my eyes, have focused on the pretty niche demographic of teenagers (even in a lot of his films). The Following is definitely a departure for him. Abrams’s successes have come on sci-fi shows or shows that at least had sci-fi elements (who can forget the time travel in Felicity?). Therefore, I’ll go with Abrams here and his track record in the genre.


You’ve got a good point, so in the end, Kripke gets my vote in this category. …

If we turn to Abrams’ and Williamson’s movies, it’s a bit more of what you pointed out before. Williamson’s niche is definitely teen, with the Scream series and I Know What You Did Last Summer. These successes with suspenseful films could make the case for Williamson’s handling of The Following, because that will surely be full of suspense. Abrams is all over the place with his films, but there is a strong sci-fi showing. You wanted to touch on some specifics, I think, since you mentioned MI:3.


Alright, now I feel like a jerk because I haven’t even seen Mission Impossible 3. I just figured we would be talking about movies, and Abrams’s resume, which also includes sci-fi flicks like Star Trek and Super 8. Again, they’re in the right genre to help make Revolution a success.

Looking over the movie resumes, I think I have to give the nod to Williamson here. Not because his movies have been better, but because I think they are more relatable to TV. I just don’t think making a huge budget film like Star Trek is equatable to anything on television, they’re completely different animals. If you try to bring the same mind set to television (especially network TV), you’re going to blow your budget making the pilot.

So, time to put your money where your mouth is, who are you taking in this battle of producer heavy weights?


Was I unclear? I believe I voted for Kripke …

I think we need to discuss one more category here, and that is the new shows themselves, and their individual merits for success. This is where Williamson edges out Abrams for me. Revolution, though I have all the faith in the world in Kripke, isn’t a genre that has translated well to television. Whether it’s conspiracy shows or post-apocalyptic themes, neither has done well recently. The Following, on the other hand, has all the right ingredients for success: an FBI agent, a serial killer and dark missions. Dexter meets The Mentalist perhaps? I’m giving The Following a longer run than Revolution, which puts my vote in Williamson’s lap.

On a side note, MI:3 was stupid good fun, and I don’t meet many movies I like these days.


I think the folks over at AMC and The Walking Dead may have something to say about post-apocalyptic fare not doing so well….

I see your point, though. Personally, I’m more interested in Revolution, though I’ll definitely be giving The Following a chance too. While Revolution isn’t the type of show to light up the ratings, who was predicting that Once Upon a Time was going to do so well at this time last year? You just never know.

It sounds like Williamson may have come out on top in this round.

OK readers — what do you think? Does your vote go to Abrams’ Revolution or Willamson’s The Following? State your reasons in the comments.

Photo Credit: NBC

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One Response to “JJ Abrams vs. Kevin Williamson – The 2012-13 faceoff”

July 19, 2012 at 12:17 PM

I’m just going with the better show: The Following.

Though, if they were both perfect, brilliant shows, I’d be a much bigger fan of Revolution, as it represents the kind of television I’m most interested in watching. Sadly, it did not live up to expectation.

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