'Cult' review: One crazy, twisted, possibly brilliant head-trip
This new and very original series premieres on The CW on Tuesday, Feb. 19. It's worth a chance, especially if you're the type who gets bored by the standard show on television. Because if nothing else, "Cult" is as original as they come.
What is "Cult"? While difficult to explain, the story is deceptively simple. There is a TV show (also called "Cult") which has low ratings and a passionate -- possibly obsessed -- fan base. These fans may, in fact, be committing crimes in the name of their beloved show.
The result is a head trip through realities in realities where nothing is as it seems. It's pretty cool.
The series comes from Rockne S. O'Bannon, the fan-beloved creator of "Farscape," and definitely owes some of its obsessive-fan theme to that earlier project (for the record, O'Bannon professes great love for "Farscape" fans and just got this concept by thinking about what would happen if those fans were instead evil). "Cult" stars Matt Davis ( "The Vampire Diaries") and Jessica Lucas ( "Friends with Benefits," "Melrose Place") as a reporter named Jeff and production assistant named Skye, respectively, out to discover what's really going on behind the show.
Robert Knepper ( "Prison Break") and Alona Tal ( "Supernatural," "Veronica Mars") also star, but their roles are a little more confusing. Knepper's main character is Billy Grimm, the charismatic spiritual leader at the center of the fictional show, "Cult." But Knepper also plays Roger, a seemingly normal actor just playing the role of Billy. Similarly, Tal is Kelly, a police detective and former cult member obsessed with destroying Billy Grimm. And she is Marti, the young actress getting her big break.
With characters like these, how can "Cult" help but be twisted?
The show isn't perfect -- in the premiere, it takes awhile to get into the investigation launched by Jeff and Skye. At the same time, the fictional "Cult" TV show seems more compelling than the real "Cult" TV show we're watching. Billy Grimm is an excellent character, and he is truly spooky. The "real" show only gets into its groove when Grimm seems to emerge as an actual person who will destroy those who cross him.
If all of this seems confusing, don't worry too much -- it's easier to handle when watching the show. The result is a twisted and kind of terrifying look at reality itself. Television being the pervasive and powerful medium that it is, the insights from "Cult" may just be important.
"Cult" airs Tuesdays at 9pm on The CW.