Two Guys, a Girl and a TV Set

Three college friends out in the world, filling the void with television…and loving it.

“Hellcats” Premiere Review

Posted by CJ Cregg on September 8, 2010

OK.  First thoughts.  Annoying voiceover.  I almost always hate voiceovers.  On the plus side, the voiceover only lasts briefly.

Moving on.

Michalka (left) learns to be a Hellcat with Tisdale (right)

Our main character, Marti (Alyson Michalka), is a bike enthusiast and first year pre-law student and former gymnast, who goes to Lancer University in Memphis, a school obsessed with football and cheerleaders.  She’s your stereotypical outsider, who hates all thing pep and wears too much eyeliner.  (Oh wait, the peppy undergrads do that too.  My bad.)  When a cheerleader gets injured and Marti’s scholarship gets ‘canceled,’ she auditions for the Hellcats cheerleader team.  Savannah (Ashley Tisdale) is team captain who bosses everyone around and walks around wearing only short shorts and a sports bra.

The parallels to Bring it On are obvious.  Not that that’s necessarily bad.  Marti even watches the movie to prepare for her audition.  But, as the New York Times points out, Glee proves that innovation can occur on tried and true teenage themes.  Hellcats isn’t even trying.  When Marti ‘goes rogue’ in the audition and whips out breakdancing moves, it’s clear she’s going to get the spot.  (It is unclear how she knows how to do all these dance moves.  A question that is not answered in the pilot.)  She then has to move into the ‘cheerleading house’ to live.  The house, of course, looks like a mansion.  She will, of course, be roommates with Savannah.  Their friendship starts to bloom, but Alice, the hurt cheerleader, wants Marti gone, so she invites Marti’s mom to qualifiers, which will throw Marti off.

Ashley Tisdale is playing the same character she played in High School Musical, except with brown hair.  (Which looks better if you ask me.)  She’s peppy and entitled.  I’m pretty sure that’s the only character she knows how to play.  But she does it pretty well, so it’s all good.  Alyson Michalka, no offense to former Phil of the Future fans, is not a good actress.  She looks stiff and awkward all the time.  I want to like her sarcastic, outsider character, but it’s just not believable coming from her.  Simply put, Michalka lacks charisma on the screen.

There are some awesome things.  For one, DB Woodside of Buffy fame is the team trainer.  Another, the show is set in Memphis, an unconventional location.  All the tumbling and flipping is fun to watch.  I’m a fan of the ripped abs and toned bodies on the male cheerleaders, too.

Other storylines that will develop over the season: new football coach is ex-boyfriend of cheerleading coach; Marti’s

Rogue cheerleader on the loose

relationship with her waitress mother who embarrasses her; what will happen to Marti when the hurt cheerleader is healed; Marti’s burgeoning relationship with her spotter, Louis; Marti’s “white-trash” working-class background that’s reminiscent of Friday Night Lights.

I guess I saw this show as having Greek potential.  As a result, I expected it to be better.  I had somewhat higher hopes for this show.  It’s not nearly as funny as I thought it would be, and actually I think the show would be AWESOME if it had a bit more of the irreverence that Greek does.  If it could laugh at itself even a little, it would be a way better show.

All things considered, it’s not a bad show, and considering I am it’s target audience, I like it OK.  But I don’t think it’s going to be the show that everyone’s talking about the next day.

But I do have a confession.  I think I’m going to watch it next week.

Grade: B+


6 Responses to ““Hellcats” Premiere Review”

  1. Marlo Stanfield said

    Granted I only watched the last 15 minutes, but I’m going to have to give it a D – and only for obvious reasons that Mr. Feeny has already stated.

    • CJ Cregg said

      Well I figured if anyone was going to like it, it’d be me. I don’t suppose you’re the target audience. In fact, I doubt you watch anything that airs on the CW.

  2. Mr. Feeny said

    I cannot fit into this reply all the reasons I hated this show. Just terrible. And actually, you even admitted, CJ, some of the bad things, but still gave it a B+. Inexplicable. But, I think you’re right in saying the show will do well. Perfect for the CW.

    I’ll start with the positive. There is one thing I liked (again, besides the obvious as a guy). Ashley Tisdale. I was pleasantly surprised by her character. I could do without the stereotypical “little miss perfect” routine, but I expected her to be mean, like Sharpay. She wasn’t…at all. She loves cheering and stands up for it, but that’s as confrontational as she became. She voted for Marti, gives her advice, starts to bond with, sticks up for her. They’re actually friends now, saving the viewers weeks of typical roommate hatred transitioning into respect. I really liked that.

    And pretty much nothing else. Biggest problem: the music. First, it never stops. We don’t need to have a soundtrack in the background the entire time. And when there is a song, why does it make no sense? They just took the biggest hits of the year and threw them in, for no reason.

    One of my well-documented pet peeves is lack of attention to detail. And unrealism. The whole premise is absurd. So is the fact that she’s leading the cheerleaders out at the end. She should be in the back as the newcomer. But there’s never an indication that she’d have any trouble taking over (she was a gymnast, after all). In fact, she made it to state…and then spent another months going to meets before she quit. Um…what meets were those? The post-state meets? Just one example of the complete ridiculousness of this show (probably only to be matched by “Outlaw”).

    Also, anyone else think it’s incredibly stupid that Marti’s friend is named after an elite racehorse from over 100 years ago (Dan Patch)? I hope they explain that. But I won’t be watching to find out.

    Grade: D

    • CJ Cregg said

      I agree with your peeve about the lack of attention to detail. The fact that it took her no time at all to learn moves or cheerleader (which is not the same as gymnastics) was annoying.

      I understand why you didn’t like it, but then, you probably don’t watch chick flicks or the gymnastics when its on the Olympics either. These are things girls just tend to like. (To make a huge generalization and be offensively gender essentialist.)

      Considering it was something I felt like I’d watch again, I didn’t feel like I could grade it much lower than I did.

  3. Anya said

    I have to agree with CJ on the demographic point. Here’s another member of the target audience waiting with anticipation for the second and third episodes. I recognize all of its faults and accept them happily. I think that I am very forgiving of this genre because it is naturally campy and unrealistic. As artful and genius as Buffy was, do we really believe even Willow could have ducked out of school as often as she did and STILL GRADUATE? The lovely Eliza Dushku took to cheerleading like a duck takes to water in one of the classics of the genre, and we don’t flinch (at least not the target audience). Even the greatest canonical works of the genre have their glaring inconsistencies. Could Heath Ledger really have convinced the band to back him up? Could Cher and Dion really transform Ty into that monster in such short order (though we can thank Jane Austen for that; and I CANNOT believe CJ hasn’t seen this)?

    So…Hellcats has many, many more flaws than these great works, but who cares? It’s delightfully fun for those of us lucky enough to be the target audience. 🙂 So perhaps we can say B+ within the genre. D- in the realm of television in general.

  4. Anya said

    Oh, and P.S. CJ, I think Marti told Louis got those moves from hanging out in Townie bars. Still pretty crappy explanation, but at least there was one.

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