Path of­fers Cult TV at its finest

The Press - The Box - - VIEWING GUIDE - Pat­tie Pe­gler

Most of us bicker with our spouses about load­ing the dish­washer or fail­ure to do so. But new US drama se­ries The Path (now avail­able on Light­box) throws up a more orig­i­nal source of mar­i­tal dishar­mony.

Ed­die (Aaron Paul of Break­ing Bad fame) has a beau­ti­ful wife and two lovely kids. The only down­side is that the happy fam­ily is part of the Mey­erist cult and Ed­die is start­ing to have ‘‘doubts’’ about the whole cult thing. Give up the cult and ef­fec­tively he gives up his fam­ily.

Mey­erists grab vul­ner­a­ble new re­cruits from tor­nado-rav­aged towns, promise some sort of eter­nal joy­ous de­light by as­cend­ing ‘‘the lad­der’’ and their mar­i­tal guid­ance in­volves 14 days of soli­tary con­fine­ment. Sure, it’s nuts. Cults gen­er­ally are. But, don’t let that put you off, be­cause this is a well-writ­ten story peo­pled with com­pelling char­ac­ters.

The first episode is a bit of a slow starter, but it man­ages to get across an aw­ful lot of back­ground on the main play­ers and set up a whole lot of dif­fer­ent sto­ry­lines – al­ways show­ing, rather than telling. By the end of it, you re­ally do want to know what’s go­ing to hap­pen next. Al­ways a good in­di­ca­tor of a story well told.

And there’s a creep­ing omi­nous feel to the whole thing, re­flected well in Cal (Hugh Dancy), the sort of sec­ond-in­com­mand leader. Un­der­neath all those smiles and un­der­stand­ing, he’s ruth­less and power hun­gry – and not afraid to re­sort to phys­i­cal vi­o­lence. And he drives around lis­ten­ing to CDs on how to im­prove your abil­ity to con­vince peo­ple of bulls... – use your eyes and don’t smile too much (in case you’re won­der­ing).

This is a great bit of tele­vi­sion, with plenty of con­flict and ten­sion and well-drawn char­ac­ters with depth and lay­ers. One episode in and I re­ally want to know whether Ed­die will break free from the cult, how will his wife re­act, what will evil Cal do and what’s go­ing to hap­pen to the ex­heroin ad­dict new re­cruit. There are so many rea­sons to keep watch­ing.

Not so with new se­ries The Art of More (now avail­able on Light­box). Set in the world of mega-rich art col­lec­tors, it’s got plenty of pretty peo­ple clink­ing cham­pagne glasses and bid­ding lu­di­crous amounts of money on trin­kets.

Main char­ac­ter Gra­ham Con­nor (Chris­tian Cooke) is an ex-sol­dier who fought in Iraq and had a lu­cra­tive side-line steal­ing price­less an­tiq­ui­ties.

Now he’s back in the US work­ing for an auc­tion house.

One of his old Iraqi art thief mates has just turned up and he’s jostling with the gor­geous Rox­ana (Kate Bos­worth) for the busi­ness of bil­lion­aire real es­tate de­vel­oper Steve Bruker (Den­nis Quaid).

All of which sounds in­ter­est­ing enough, but man­ages to fall hor­ri­bly flat be­cause some­where along the line some­one for­got that con­vinc­ing char­ac­ters with some sort of in­ner-life are quite im­por­tant.

In­stead, it feels like you’re watch­ing a story pro­pelled along by one-di­men­sional card­board cut-outs. And it’s hard to force your­self to carry on watch­ing. So I didn’t.

One episode in and I re­ally want to know whether Ed­die will break free from the cult, how will his wife re-act, what will evil Cal do and what’s go­ing to hap­pen to the ex-heroin ad­dict new re­cruit.

Aaron Paul and Michelle Mon­aghan have cre­ated com­pelling char­ac­ters in the new US drama The Path.

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