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2 YEARS

Shortest Reviews Ever: Vol. 3: 'Cult'

It's a show within a show, except you won't like the first show, which is a problem, writes THR chief TV critic Tim Goodman.

Cult Matt Davis Episodic - P 2013
The CW
"Cult" on CW. Look it up.

What: Cult

When: 9 p.m. Tuesday

Where: The CW

There's a part of me that wants to give The CW a great big hug, because it's as if it somehow knew that I needed a gigantic laugh right about now, and even though the channel doesn't intentionally program comedies, it gave me Cult, about a show so popular that its viewers can't tell what's real or imagined. A show so popular -- like Lost, say -- that fans will go on the Internet for hours trying to figure out the mysteries within. In short, not a show like this.

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For starters, I laughed because The CW really and truly believes in the notion that word-of-mouth, Internet buzz, social-media activity and the like translate into value for shows, even though those things are like unicorns when it comes to actual cash. So of course it would make a show called Cult that's got everybody talking and playing along and dying and stuff. It's like some kind of visual propaganda for their magical thinking.

I also laughed because there's a quick, passing line from someone who says, "The numbers were good last night."

Bwahahahahhahahaha.

See, the plot, such as it is, revolves around a show about a cult leader and the people who watch it and re-enact it in some kind of ridonkulous fan-fiction thing gone really sideways. There's a lot of Internet clues, dressing up, connecting the dots via arcane online searching and then watching it live in a club called fan.dom.ain (which made me laugh so hard some wine came up through my nose). Anyway, the gist, complicated as it may be -- and it's definitely too laughably convoluted to go into -- is that Cult, the show on The CW, is about a show called Cult on The CW, whose legions (insert laughter here) of fans believe that the show is not just a show, but that it goes deeper, with multicolored glasses that can see the truth (or the quality, which can't be seen without said glasses) and that by watching it, fans are being lured into the cult and doing things that are evil. At least that's what I culled after falling on the ground like eight times, holding my side. Also, there's a very important catch-phrase that goes, "Well, hey, these things just snap right off." And every time it was mentioned, I snapped it off the DVD.

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Whooh, boy. Good times. 

"It's not like any other show," someone says. "It totally gets under your skin." Well, in that case, it's not like too many CW shows, that's for sure. But I watched the whole hour. I wish I hadn't. I also very much dislike The Following on Fox, but The Following makes Cult look like Downton Abbey, if Downton Abbey was a show within a show where Lord Grantham made the people who work downstairs, like Thomas, go out and kill people.

I have lost my mind. Clearly. Thanks, Cult.