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September 4, 2015

Pilot Watch: 'Hellcats'

by Joel Keller, posted Aug 19th 2010 2:03PM
Ashley Tisdale and Aly Michalka in 'Hellcats' on CWIn our continuing effort to get you ready for the upcoming fall season, we're previewing pilots that were sent to critics earlier this summer.

Keep in mind that in each case, our opinions are based on a pilot that could be completely recast and reworked between now and the fall. Some of those changes have already been announced.

Show: 'Hellcats'
Network: CW
Timeslot: Wednesdays, 9PM ET (Premieres September 8)

The lowdown: Marti Perkins (Alyson Michalka) just found out that her scholarship to study pre-law at Lancer University in Memphis was revoked. Her barmaid mother Wanda (Gail O'Grady) was supposed to let her know so she had a chance to get it back, but as Marti has experienced through a lifetime of taking care of her irresponsible mother, her mother ended up dropping the ball. So, in a desperate move to earn another scholarship and stay in school, she tries out for an opening on the college's competitive cheeleading team, known as the Hellcats. It's definitely not her style, but she has the moves to pique the interest of both coach Vanessa Lodge (Sharon Leal) and captain Savannah (Ashley Tisdale), who takes Marti under her very meticulous wing. Marti takes the place of Alex (Heather Hemmens), who doesn't like the new team member one bit, even if her abilities could take them to the national championship.

What we're saying: This show feels like a college cheerleading version of 'Glee,' complete with pop soundtrack -- including Train's 'Hey Soul Sister' and Phoenix's '1901,' two of the most overused songs of the last year -- and intrasquad personal drama. And a viewer will have to suspend disbelief about a half-dozen times to figure out how this alterna-chick manages to know as many moves as these veteran cheerleaders. But the pilot was fun to watch, and Michalka and Tisdale are favorites of the millennial set, as they've watched both of them grow up on the Disney Channel for close to a decade now.

Unlike 'Nikita,' where wooden acting drags down a confusing and eye-rolling plot, the polished performances in 'Hellcats' make a viewer forget that a girl off the street has the ability to slip right into a top cheerelading team without much of a hassle. What I want to see in upcoming episodes is more of how Marti doesn't fit in with the super-perky herd of cheerleaders, and how she deals with her mother, a person she loves but wants to get as far away from as she possibly can get.

Here's a preview:

Tell us what you think. Is this just a 'Glee' imitation or will it stand on its own?

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Watched the pilot last night. That was enough for me. Not up for an entire season of "Bring It On", without the funny parts.

September 09 2010 at 4:23 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

"Alterna-chick" (nice one!) was a gymnast, so she'd have the skills. They borrowed this point from "Bring It On," but you say they make it work, so YAY! Plus, Gale Harold, D B Woodside, and Robbie Jones!

August 22 2010 at 2:17 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

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