By now you've probably heard the bad reviews of the CW's Hellcats. I certainly had, and that's why I never got around to watching the preview DVD they sent me at the beginning of the summer. However, I got a second version of the pilot from them last week, and I'm happy to report it was pretty good.
The show stars Aly Michalka as Marti Perkins, a smart girl studying law who loses her scholarship. Desperately searching for a way to stay in school, Marti finds out that cheerleading offers a scholarship. Despite considering all cheerleaders brainless groupies, she decides to put her past gymnastic skills to work and tries out. She can't quite keep up with their routines, but with a little improvisation, she impresses the coach and captain enough to earn a place on the squad.
Speaking of the captain, she is Savannah, played by Ashley Tisdale, star of the High School Musical series. The quote that best personifies her is, "If we're going to improvise, shouldn't we make some kind of plan?" She's uptight, but dedicated to her team, and willing to do whatever it takes to win, even if that means befriending Marti after the blond trash-talked everything that she loves. This part shows that Tisdale does have acting chops beyond Disney movies, and she was my favorite part of the pilot.
The cast also includes a love triangle, naturally. Robbie Jones (One Tree Hill) is Lewis Flynn, Marti's new cheerleading partner. Dan (Matt Barr) has been Marti's best friend since childhood, although she doesn't see him as anything more. Both are definitely into her, and both would make a good pairing, although I'm learning towards Team Lewis. I also enjoyed Sharon Leal (Dreamgirls, Private Practice) as the coach and the always fantastic D.B. Woodside (Buffy the Vampire Slayer, 24) as her boyfriend/team doctor. Not so thrilled with the villain of the piece, Alice (Heather Hemmens), whom Marti replaces after her injury. But perhaps that's because she's doing a good job being unlikable. Nor did I like Gail O'Grady (Boston Legal, American Dreams) as Marti's alcoholic mess of a mother. But again, I'm not sure I was meant to.
Hellcats premieres Wednesday, September 8 on the CW at 9pm.