Monday, September 13, 2010

Pilot Review: Hellcats

Hellcats (CW)
Premiered September 8 at 9pm

A show about cheerleading only has so much potential, and, unless it’s truly spectacular, will only appeal to a selected audience. To its credit, “Hellcats” excels in both of those categories, proving to be a thoroughly entertaining and appealing fit for the CW’s staple of shows. It’s by no means a good show, but considering the horrendousness that the CW has been churning out lately – I’m talking about “Melrose Place” and “One Tree Hill,” to pick on a couple by name. What’s important is that anyone who tunes into this show expecting to like it probably will. It has all the requisite elements of a guilty pleasure primetime soap opera – a desperate need for money to legitimize and necessitate the main character’s immersion in cheerleading, cutthroat competition, a fierce rival planning sabotage at every turn, an alcoholic parent, and multiple love interests and love triangles. In the same vein, none of it is terribly original, making this a completely expected pilot with few, if any surprises. Aly Michalka, who has an entertaining supporting part in the film “Easy A,” opening in theatres this Friday, proves to be an able lead who has a certain cattiness and sardonic attitude to her that it’s hard not to root for her. Singer Ashley Tisdale isn’t nearly as grating or distracting as she could be (or as Taylor Swift was as in “Valentine’s Day”), and with the exception of Gail O’Grady as a deadbeat, dull, alcoholic mom (better to stick to guest spots on “Desperate Housewives”), the cast isn’t entirely terrible. The final scene of the pilot features lead characters Marti (Michalka) and Savannah (Tisdale) preparing to run out for their first big cheerleading event and Marti finally embracing her the rush and excitement of her new field, sending the first installment of this show out on a surprisingly hopeful and good note. It’s certainly not a show that I need to watch or would even consider watching, but those looking for an above-average cheerleading show on the CW should find themselves fulfilled.

How will it work as a series? Marti is sure to make more friends and even more enemies along the way as she immerses herself into cheerleading culture and college, and that could provide for trite plotlines as well as new possibilities for dramatic plotting. I highly doubt any of it will be deep, but it could be just what fans of “Bring It On” want to see week-to-week on their television screens. The spectacle scenes are also pretty thrilling, which is a definite plus.
How long will it last? Before watching the pilot, I would have said a few weeks at most. After seeing it and learning that it topped lead-in “America’s Next Top Model” in ratings, I think this show should enjoy a healthy first season before possibly (though not likely) being renewed by the CW. It’s too early to tell, but if the network has a show that isn’t as much of a bomb as “The Beautiful Life,” which this show certainly is not, I think they’ll want to hang onto it for as long as they can.

Pilot grade: C


Greg Boyd said...

No interest in this one at all. I'll be curious to see what you think of the CW's other new show, "Nikita". I liked it, and think it has a lot of potential. First CW show I've ever watched, by the way (that's probably because I have no interest in all those teen soaps the network specializes in).

Movies with Abe said...

Honestly, I don't have any interest in it either; it just wasn't nearly as unbearable as I had expected. My review of "Nikita" should be up tonight - I did like it quite a bit.