TV Pilot Preview: The CW's 'Cult'

A show within a show, rabid fans and three more things to know about the midseason drama starring "Vampire Diaries" vet Matt Davis.

It won't launch until midseason, but the CW is edging into darker territory with Cult, from executive producers Josh Schwartz and Stephanie Savage.

The show's premise is a bit complicated to understand, but long story short, Cult follows a journalist (Matt Davis) and production assistant (Jessica Lucas) on a popular crime series, also called Cult, who investigate a series of disappearances linked to the show -- many of them diehard fans who may be recreating crimes committed on the series.

The Hollywood Reporter screened the pilot for the drama and as part of our Fall Preview 2012 offer the five things you need to know about the series before its launch.

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1. One might say that there are two casts, and they're both on shows called Cult. Here's how it works: In the show within the show (which revolves around a creepy cult leader), Prison Break alum Robert Knepper and Veronica Mars' Alona Tal play the main protagonists. Davis and Lucas' alter-egos are the key players investigating the show and its rabid fanbase. At first, Cult seems like the typical crime drama with horror elements factored in, but soon it's revealed that there are many more layers -- including a disappearance tied to Davis' character and mysterious objects from the show -- to the story than expected.

2. Sometimes time works in a show's favor. After the now-defunct WB network rejected Cult (with Matt Bomer!), as Vulture reported, the CW went ahead and picked it up six years later. This, after ABC was reportedly also in the mix at one point.

3. Meta should be its middle name: The show not only relies on viewers to suspend disbelief, a major part of Cult focuses on the inner workings of a television show with frequent showcases of studio lots, TV sets and the players in front of and behind the camera. It's appropriate that a show with this concept is on a network like the CW, which is home to series with passionate fanbases, Supernatural and The Vampire Diaries to name two.

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4. Cult brings together several CW vets: Davis' Vampire Diaries character suffered a heartbreaking death at the end of the third season. During the 2009-10 season, Lucas was one of the key players on the Melrose Place reboot that lasted one year, while Tal recurred on Veronica Mars -- though she didn't appear in the third season when the series aired on the then-"just launched" CW network.

5. Executive producer Rockne S. O'Bannon is a name that sci-fi lovers will be familiar with, having created the Farscape series. With an extensive background in genre fare, O'Bannon's expertise mixed with Schwartz and Savage's knack for soapy drama (Gossip Girl, the forthcoming Carrie Diaries) will be an interesting mix to watch.

Watch a preview, which ends on a cliffhanger moment, below:

Cult launches midseason on the CW.