[In case you've Forgotten, and as I will continue to mention each and every one of these posts that I do: This is *not* a review. Pilots change. Sometimes a lot. Often for the better. Sometimes for the worse. But they change. Actual reviews will be coming in September and perhaps October (and maybe midseason in some cases). This is, however, a brief gut reaction to not-for-air pilots. I know some people will be all "These are reviews." If you've read me, you've read my reviews and you know this isn't what they look like.]

Show:"Cult" (The CW) [Midseason]
The Pitch: "What if the people who watched "Lost" (or "Jericho" or "Fringe" or "Community") weren't just obsessed with their favorite shows? What if they were dangerously obsessed?" or "It's 'Twin Peaks' meets 'The L.A. Complex' only BAD."
Quick Response: Of the "three or four audaciously weird, wacky and possibly terrible (but possibly terribly addictive) new dramas" I've mentioned are premiering at midseason, "Cult" is perhaps the king, only I'm already prepared to remove the "possibly" caveat in front of "terrible." I'm fairly sure that "Cult" is terrible, but it's also almost certainly going to be the kind of show that I won't be able to turn off out of fear that I'm going to miss the next bonkers, disconnected-from-reality plot twist or character development. Right from the top, you have to take "Cult" with a grain of salt, because it's about the fanatical fans of a wildly popular CW show. So you know that Rockne O'Bannon's script is taking place in an alternate reality. And the pilot's take on the television business and Internet fandom and Los Angeles is similarly disconnected from logic and the actual living, breathing world around us. Every second is goofy and yet director Jason Ensler has decided that everything should be played with a straight-forward earnestness that wouldn't have been my personal storytelling instinct at all. Hand this exact script to somebody wanting to channel their inner David Lynch and this could be almost "Mulholland Drive"-esque. In that context, the wooden lead performances by Matt Davis and Jessica Lucas would just be elements of the surrealism. But this isn't "Twin Peaks" and Davis and Lucas are simply having a really hard time convincingly delivering the lines in the twisty script, which becomes almost unexpurgated mythology-blather and TV meta-commentary at a certain point. I feel especially bad for Davis, who had the role of his career on "Vampire Diaries" and now is forced to retreat back into Soap Opera Leading Man blandness. If the "Cult" producers are smart, they'll let Davis' character go down a conspiratorial rabbit hole and go increasingly insane. That's where Mr. Ernesto Riley would shine. The most intriguing element of "Cult" is the show-within-a-show in which Robert Knepper plays a deranged cult leader. Nobody will be surprised to learn that Robert Knepper is a lot of fun as a deranged cult leader. Knepper was on "Prison Break" and later seasons of "Heroes," so if anybody knows how to take painful dialogue and sell it, it's him. Also maintaining some dignity is Tom Amandes, also good enough that his presence grounds the ludicrousness around him. But yeah, "Cult" makes "Do No Harm" and "The Zero Hour" feel like they take place in a recognizable universe. Well hey. These things just snap. Right off.
Desire To Watch Again: I watched a whole season of "Ringer" and I'll probably do the same with "Cult." And I think "Cult" has the potential to maybe be the kind of guilty pleasure that "Ringer" never became. So while I'm not "looking forward" to watching more of "Cult," I just know with certainty that I will. And hey... It's better than "Beauty and the Beast." A lot better. That's not saying anything.

 

Take Me To The Pilots '12: NBC's 'Next Caller'
Take Me To The Pilots '12: FOX's 'The Following'
Take Me To The Pilots '12: ABC's 'Family Tools'
Take Me To The Pilots '12: NBC's 'Infamous'
Take Me To The Pilots '12: ABC's 'How To Live With Your Parents (For the Rest of Your Life)'
Take Me To The Pilots '12: NBC's '1600 Penn'
Take Me To The Pilots '12: ABC's 'The Zero Hour'
Take Me To The Pilots '12: NBC's 'Do No Harm'
Take Me To The Pilots '12: The CW's 'The Carrie Diaries'
Take Me To The Pilots '12: ABC's 'Malibu Country'
Take Me To The Pilots '12: NBC's 'The New Normal'
Take Me To The Pilots '12: NBC's 'Guys with Kids'
Take Me To The Pilots '12: FOX's 'The Mindy Project'
Take Me To The Pilots '12: CBS' 'Partners'
Take Me To The Pilots '12: ABC's 'Nashville'
Take Me To The Pilots '12: CBS' 'Made in Jersey'
Take Me To The Pilots '12: The CW's 'Emily Owens, M.D.'
Take Me To The Pilots '12: FOX's 'Mob Doctor'
Take Me To The Pilots '12: NBC's 'Animal Practice'
Take Me To The Pilots '12: ABC's 'Last Resort'
Take Me To The Pilots '12: CBS' 'Vegas'
Take Me To The Pilots '12: The CW's 'Beauty & The Beast'
Take Me To The Pilots '12: ABC's '666 Park Avenue'
Take Me To The Pilots '12: NBC's 'Chicago Fire'
Take Me To The Pilots '12: FOX's 'Ben and Kate'
Take Me To The Pilots '12: CBS' 'Elementary'
Take Me To The Pilots '12: The CW's 'Arrow'
Take Me To The Pilots '12: ABC's 'The Neighbors'
Take Me To The Pilots '12: NBC's 'Revolution'
All of last year's Take Me To The Pilots entries