Wednesday, September 15, 2010


So we watched the series premiere of Hellcats on the CW. Both of us. (And even Lil' Lilith watched a bit, but she got bored early on and walked away... there's no accounting for taste.) We weren't overly impressed... so we watched the second episode too, just to give it a fair chance.

Hellcats is... um, interesting. The minute we saw the previews we knew it probably wasn't going to be winning any Emmys in the near future, but we thought it might be a fun show. So far, we're not completely convinced yet... Sure it's fun (what campy cheerleading show wouldn't be?) but the premiere wasn't exactly overwhelmingly awesome. Here's our take so far:

Hellcats follows the story of Marti Perkins (Alyson Michalka, Bandslam, Cow Belles, Phil of the Future), a pre-law student and former gymnast who is forced to join the cheerleading squad in order to stay in school after she loses her scholarship. Gail O'Grady (American Dreams, NYPD Blue) plays her irresponsible, drunk mother and Ashley Tisdale (High School Musical, Phineas and Ferb, Suite Life of Zack and Cody) plays her perky, preppy new roommate who happens to be caption of the cheerleading squad.

As you know, we've both got plenty of "reasons" to give this show a chance. For Lilith, it's former Disney stars Tisdale and Michalka; for Jezebel it's the One Tree Hill alumni and Gale Harold. And, of course, there's a little special place in our hearts for super cheesy cheerleading stories like Bring It On.

Speaking of Bring It On... The show is basically "Bring It On: The College Years" (only not as terrible as the actual "Bring It On: The College Years" sequel Bring It On Again). The basic plotline is pulled straight from the Bring It On handbook... a former-gymnast misfit joins the squad, despite reservations and a lack of 'cheery disposition' and is befriended by the super perky cheer caption and somehow they make cheer magic. The only real difference is that they're in college instead of high school... and they swapped the hair colors of the two main stereotypes characters.

There are other similarities too: The one jealous rich bitch (co-caption Alice, played by Heather Hemmens) who wants to sabotauge Marti... and the abundance of hot guys on the cheer squad and the cute guy-friend-or-is-he-more-than-a-friend (townie Dan, played by Matt Barr) who doesn't get the whole cheerleading thing but is supportive nonetheless. The Bring It On similarity is clear to even the writers - at one point Marti rents Bring It On to learn cheerleading moves before trying out for the squad. No really.

Not everything is Bring It On's fault. There's also a little touch of Stick It (gymnastics' answer to Bring It On which was written by the same person), specifically the storyline of an excellent gymnast who gives it up because of... shitty parents, only to return out of 'necessity'. One good thing we can say is that Hellcats is at least better than the Stick It rip-off show, Make It Or Break It on ABC Family.

Maybe we just might have too much baggage to fully accept this show and its characters. I'm sorry, but you can dye Ashley Tisdale's hair back to her natural color and call her whatever you want to... but deep down, she will still always be Sharpay. And we just keep waiting for A.J. (Michalka's sister and the other half of their sister-singing duo 78violet, formerly 'Aly & AJ') to show up for a song.

And it's hilarious to see Marti with not one, but two One Tree Hill guys there. Robbie Jones plays Lewis, a Hellcats cheerleader who takes an immediate interest in Marti, despite a 'complicated past' with co-captain Alice. Jones went from being a high school basketball player on OTH to a college cheerleader on Hellcats, so it's almost like he's the same character. And whenever we see Marti with Dan (Barr) we can't help but think "Don't trust him! He's a psycho stalker! Run away! He's going to kidnap you and ruin your prom!"

There are a few other familiar faces... Sharon Leal went from playing a teacher on Boston Public to being the cheerleading coach on Hellcats. Her boyfriend, the Hellcats sports doctor, is played by D.B. Woodside, Principal Wood from Buffy the Vampire Slayer. There's also some kind of back story about the fact that she, as a former Hellcat, dated the new football coach back in the day when he was the old coach... who we know is supposed to be kind of a douche, because he's played by Jeff Hephner, formerly Matt Ramsey on The O.C. We're already bored by that storyline. Oh they used to know each other, I wonder what... zzzzzzzz.

Jezebel: This show is ridiculous. Some of the extras who are allegedly college girls trying out for the cheerleading squad are like 35.

Lilith: I think Alyson Michalka is the only one on the show who is actually 'college age'. Even Ashley Tisdale, who is basically like the perpetual teenager, is actually 25.

The acting on this show is... well... it's a cheerleading show on the CW so it's not exactly about the acting. Some of the actors are better than others, but like we said earlier, we weren't expecting Emmy caliber performances anyway.

Michalka's Marti is cursed with bad dialogue - the writers are trying too hard to show how cool and cynical she is and it gets annoying fast. And Marti's mom is one big walking, drunken cliche. (And what is with the super thick accent when Marti has none?) Tisdale may not nail all her lines perfectly but her innocent wide eyed facial expressions are hilarious.

I don't think this show will be one of our favorites, but we'll give it at least another couple of episodes before they cancel it.

The writing may be cliched and predictable, and the acting mediocre... but the cast is cute and the cheers are fun (even if the dancing is ridiculous)... the music is catchy (dude, they cheered to "My First Kiss" by 3OH!3 and Ke$sha) and the costumes are skimpy so we'll give it another couple of weeks at least before it gets replaced by re-runs of Gossip Girl or something.

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