A look at the CW’s “Cult”
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Want a little “Fringe” with your “Following”? A little “Supernatural” with your, well, “The Following”? Well then, the CW’s “Cult” may just be for you. Matt Davis gave up his cushy supporting role on “The Vampire Diaries” (the network’s most successful series) in favor of a leading role on this midseason gem. Good idea? Maybe not, considering the fact that it was just moved to Friday nights, television’s proverbial graveyard, only two weeks into its run.
Nevertheless, “Cult” deserves a chance. The series revolves around the unique idea of a show within a show, also called “Cult.” Both series are based on a serial killer who has gained a strong band of followers, eager to do his bidding. Once you’re in, it’s nearly impossible to get out. Jeff Stanton (Matt Davis) is a ex-Washington Post reporter who starts investigating the show once his brother, Nate, a known fan, goes missing. The search leads him into the startlingly obsessive world of “Cult’s” fandom. Also looking into the intense fan base is Skye (“Melrose Place’s” Jessica Lucas), a young research assistant on the show. She offers to help Jeff in his search for his missing brother, and together they start to follow the trail of clues Nate left behind, as well as pieces of evidence within the show itself.
“Cult’s” meta-infused premise may sound confusing, but in execution it’s surprisingly easy to follow. It’s also alarmingly suspenseful, with unexpected twists and so many interesting questions to answer, like the identity and motive of the show’s reclusive and enigmatic creator, Stephen Rae. The show’s tone is spot on, simultaneously creepy and intriguing. The show’s investigation of fandom, especially in the context of social media and role-playing, is self-aware and relatable. Sure, it may suffer from a few CW-like clichés, and the show within a show being on the CW network is a bit unrealistic and distracting. Even still, “Cult” is thoroughly enjoyable and high quality.
The show itself is a bit of an experiment in “high-concept” for the CW. Nearly every pilot script for the networks’ fall 2013 lineup contains a different take on complex science fiction and/or futuristic epics. Their previous attempt at high concept, “Ringer,” failed miserably to gain an audience, despite its star, WB and UPN alum Sarah Michelle Gellar. “Cult”’s move to Friday could very well be a positive thing for the series, given how much less competition there will be, compared to it’s original night, Tuesdays. Also, “Nikita” is an infinitely more appropriate lead in for “Cult” than “Hart of Dixie.” As of now, the fate of “Cult” is unknown, but here’s to hoping that it will gain the followers it needs to survive.
“Cult” airs Fridays and 9 p.m. on the CW.