Hey TV.com, Should I Watch Cult?

Cult is The CW’s newest attempt at a mind-blowing serialized thriller (RIP, Ringer) with lots of twists and turns and dimly-lit sets, and it premieres this week. But should you watch it? I've already seen the pilot, so please—allow me to advise!

What’s Cult?

Cult is a television show that airs on The CW about Cult—a television show that airs on The CW. The fictional Cult series has become a massive hit with legions of dedicated fans, and like every large fanbase, has its share of those who take things just a mite too seriously. Or a lot too seriously. Or they aren’t crazy at all, but rather agents of a mysterious leader with ties to the TV show, which begs the question: Which came first? Did the cult spring up around the TV show or did the cult CREATE the TV show? Disgraced journalist Jeff Sefton (Matt Davis of Legally Blonde and The Vampire Diaries) tries to answer that and other questions when his little brother disappears after getting waaay too obsessed with his new favorite show. Jeff is joined by Skye Yarrow (Jessica Lucas from Cloverfield), a member of the show-within-a-show Cult’s production crew who senses her TV show isn’t JUST a TV show. Rounding out the main cast are Alona Tal (Jo from Supernatural) and Robert Knepper (Heroes, Prison Break) as the stars of the breakout series-within-a-series.

Whaaaat? Who spiked the Kool-aid?

Cult was created by Rockne S. O’Bannon who also gave us Alien Nation, seaQuest DSV, and Farscape. O’Bannon also has another series debuting this spring, Syfy’s heavily promoted (and anticipated!) Defiance (which also looks kind of cool, IMO). Busy dude! Josh Schwartz (Gossip Girl, Chuck, The Carrie Diaries) is a producer, as are Stephanie Savage (Hart of Dixie, The O.C., The Carrie Diaries) and Len Goldstein (Hart of Dixie).

When does this crazy train leave the station?

Cult premieres Tuesday, February 19 at 9pm on The CW.

Who is Cult trying to recruit?

I can’t very well say the audience of The Following since the two shows' debuts are so close that it’s doubtful either series is trying to steal the other's thunder, but if you like The Following (or at least the *idea* of The Following), you’ll probably dig Cult. You migh also enjoy the show if you liked the conspiracy and mystery in last season’s flop Ringer, but didn’t care for the ridiculous soapy elements (join the club!).

What’s good about it?

I was expecting cheesy and campy, so I was delighted that most of Cult was actually kind of creepy—especially Knepper as charismatic cult leader Billy Grimm. However, if it’s cheese that you want, there’s enough silliness to keep things from getting too dark and scary. The story itself, once you get past the initial WHERE-AM-I-WHAT-IS-HAPPENING feeling, is actually pretty tight so far, and the pilot raised just enough of the right questions that I'm excited about future episodes.

What’s not-so-good about it?

Not every mind-blowing twist is all that amazing—some of them are pretty obvious, actually. Also, I spent most of the beginning of the pilot just trying to get my bearings straight. Even with a handful of official descriptions and a trailer or two under my belt before actually tackling the pilot, I found that I was hitting rewind fairly often through the first half of the episode because what the eff is going on? Cult likes to blur the lines between the fictional Cult and the actual Cult, with mixed results. Sometimes it’s a neat artistic decision. Sometimes it’s important. But sometimes it’s just confusing. This is a series that could very quickly hang itself with its own twists if the writers aren’t mindful. Still, it’s kind of awesome. I promise. I won’t say that it all makes sense in the end but I think that it MIGHT make sense, and I think it’s possible for SOMETHING to make sense in the future, and for now, that’s good enough for me.

So... should I join Cult?

In a word, yes! If it sounds like your thing, then yes, absolutely. Come for the crazy, stay for the plot. The pilot is exciting and the writing is sharp. Billy Grimm is creepy. The show-within-a-show thing has been done before, but it’s fun, and The CW never seems to be taken seriously, so if nothing else, I’m willing to give this a chance. <3 you, C-Dubs (though I’m not sure why)!

Is there a trailer floating around somewhere so I can decide for myself?

BETTER: The whole pilot is currently available on Hulu. But here’s a trailer anyway:

What should I drink while watching Cult?

Kool-aid, of course!

Cult premieres Tuesday, February 19 at 9pm on The CW.

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