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'Cult' review: CW tweaks evils of TV

Matt Davis as Jeff and Jessica Lucas as

Matt Davis as Jeff and Jessica Lucas as Skye in the "Cult" pilot. Credit: The CW

THE SHOW "Cult," WPIX/11, Tuesday night at 9

WHAT IT'S ABOUT Jeff Sefton (Matthew Davis, "The Vampire Diaries") is a former reporter for the Washington Post who comes to L.A. to start a new chapter in his life after getting fired. Then, suddenly, his troubled brother goes missing. Jeff discovers that Nate (James Pizzinato) was an obsessive fan of a CW show called "Cult," about a cult leader Billy Grimm, played by an actor named Roger Reeves (Robert Knepper, "Prison Break"). In the show, Grimm is obsessed about getting a former member back into his fold. What Jeff discovers is that the mysterious reach of Grimm has extended to real-world fans, many of whom follow him (and "Cult") in public chat rooms. Jeff goes to investigate this crazy CW show, and meets Skye (Jessica Lucas, "Cloverfield"). She's a research assistant on "Cult" who has questions about its powerful effect, too.

MY SAY Ah, intriguing is the idea of a CW show (within a CW show) that perverts the minds of millions while sending them on murderous benders. This is an idea that can go places! Who knows? Maybe Jeff finds that the dastardly plot extends all the way up the ladder to CBS, which owns The CW, and that the real cult leader is CBS chief Leslie Moonves, who's been deploying other CBS shows, like "The Talk," to corrupt America as well. Les could even do a cameo -- he is a former actor after all. "Cult" could then turn into a slyly anarchic, richly satirical commentary on the corruption of the U.S. TV industry. Unfortunately . . . "Cult" will probably not head in this direction. Instead, what you will likely be left with is a decently crafted techno-thriller that borrows from other subgenres -- vampires, aliens-among-us, even zombies -- all cranked around to appeal to The CW's post-tween demo. What's most notable here is the creator of "Cult" (the real show -- not the show within the show), Rockne O'Bannon, who's done interesting work over the years, including "Alien Nation" (both the '88 movie and '89 TV series), about aliens from outer space living in L.A. To this day, "Alien Nation" has a cult following. Hmmm.

BOTTOM LINE A not-bad techno-thriller that could go interesting places.


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