With TV, it's often a question of 'Whom do you trust?'
Certainly that's the issue facing the heroes of this new CW drama, as they try to penetrate a mysterious, murderous cult spawned by a TV show of the same name. But it also is the issue facing viewers, as they try to decide whether the network and the producers will be able to keep this complicated show-within-a-show going long enough, and well enough, to provide some satisfactory answers.
Health and longevity may not have been a concern back in the days when choices were few, but those days are long gone. Today, many of our viewing schedules and DVRs already are packed to the gills, and before we add or substitute another show, we want to make sure it's worth a long-term investment.
Unfortunately, most everything we can see in Tuesday's pilot, and everything we know about CW, screams "no." Why would you trust the folks at CW to manage a show-within-a-show when "show" alone generally escapes them?
And that's particularly true when the show is traveling some of the same crazed-follower ground that Fox's The Following has already plowed this season - and trying to do so with a lesser ensemble and cheesier production values.
In place of Kevin Bacon, you get Matt Davis (The Vampire Diaries) as Jeff, a journalist whose younger, ne'er-do-well brother, Nate, is obsessed with the TV show 'Cult.' Nate is convinced that some of the show's fans are taking the homicidal instructions of 'Cult's' main character Billy (Robert Knepper, the best reason to watch either show) seriously, a conviction shared by a young research assistant on the show, Skye (Jessica Lucas).
No one believes Nate or Skye. ("We're just a television show," one of Skye's bosses tells her. "They're just fans.") Until Nate goes missing, and Jeff's search leads him first to Skye, and then to murder, suicide, and a lot of people who spout the show's current catchphrase: "These things just snap right off."
Who can Nate and Skye trust? Apparently, no one, but if you're trying to narrow that down, then probably not the show's reclusive creator, and certainly not the people who have tattooed the show's symbol on their arms. That would not seem to be the wisest move a homicidal maniac could make, being as it's a dead giveaway, but then they are maniacs.
There are moments when the show hits the appropriate level of creepiness (most of them supplied by Knepper), along with a few welcome flashes of inside showbiz humor. But a story this convoluted desperately needs to be tied to characters and actors who are charismatic and skilled enough to guide us through the maze - and on that front, CW once again seems to have set "youth" and "beauty" as its prime casting parameters.
Youth and beauty are, of course, wonderful, but it's becoming increasingly difficult to abide CW's determination to elevate them above all other qualities, skill and talent included.
Really. It's like a cult.