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Hellcats 1x01 - A World Full of Strangers - I worship at the television altar
tariel22
tariel22
Hellcats 1x01 - A World Full of Strangers


Okay, I liked it. A lot. So if you didn't (and I think only a couple of people on my flist did), you may want to skip this one. :)

Going into the first episode of Hellcats, I wondered if I had already seen it all. After the countless promos, clips, and sneak peeks the CW had given us over the past few months, was there any story left to tell? Well, I needn't have worried. The scenes I knew by heart drew me in all over again, and there was a lot more to the episode than I ever anticipated. Hellcats was a fun mix of comedy, drama, music, and dance, with an appealing cast and characters I can't wait to know better. I thoroughly enjoyed it, and I'm already counting the days until next Wednesday.

The pilot did a great job of introducing us to the Hellcats world, and laying the groundwork for future storylines. The focus was on Marti, a tough, independent college student who has always taken care of herself, and will do whatever it takes to follow her dreams, even joining the ranks of Lancer University's "football groupies." As we followed her through the crisis of losing her scholarship, her desperate plan to save her education, and the dawning realization that this cheerleading gig may have a lot more to offer than free tuition, I fell for Marti in a big way, and she is the main reason I'll be coming back. But the episode had a nice balance to it, exploring each of the other characters just enough to make me want more.

Savannah was a happy surprise. Far from the stereotypical mean girl I expected, she was a fascinating mix of hard and soft. Her passion for her sport and her determination to be the best gave her a steely strength, while her sweet summer dresses and obvious naivete betrayed an innocence that made me curious. What's her story, where did she come from? I found her earnest leadership endearing, and the way she welcomed Marti to the squad, their disastrous first meeting forgotten, completely won me over. She seemed like a genuinely nice person, and even her relentless perkiness was more adorable than annoying.

The other characters were a little more cookie-cutter, but they definitely have potential. We met Dan, the townie BFF who might want to be more than just friends, Lewis, the cheer stud who is full of confidence and bravado, and Alice, the jealous mean girl who is already plotting Marti's downfall. I look forward to seeing episodes that delve a little deeper to flesh them out. Marti's mom, Wanda, is a hot mess, and I can't wait to see more of her. But I couldn't care less about the triangle the show is setting up between Vanessa, Derrick, and Red, mostly because I can't fathom it. On one hand you have a hunky doctor who loves you, and on the other you have, well, a dick. Let's just say I was less than charmed.

The heart of Hellcats can be found in the relationships. Marti and Savannah seem so different, and yet they're already finding common ground. They have great chemistry together, whether they're fighting, or bonding over ice packs and war stories. What will bring them closer together, and what will tear them apart? How will Marti's new world affect her friendship with Dan? He's already worried she'll change, and one day leave him behind. Lewis is coming on strong with his new flyer. Is he just an incurable flirt, or does he want to be more than her cheer partner? What about Marti's mom? I'm afraid to even contemplate what new humiliations she has in store for her daughter. And that's just the tip of the iceberg. It's all fertile ground for a season's worth of stories as Marti tries to do it all, with a weekly cheer number thrown in for pure entertainment value.

More than anything else, though, it's the lead of this show, Aly Michalka, who makes me love it. She brings Marti to life with a vibrancy I can't resist. Aly's tall and gorgeous, with crazy beautiful hair, and she has an indefinable quality that makes it impossible for me to take my eyes off of her anytime she's onscreen. I find her acting real and relatable, and her smile irresistible. And I admire her poise in interviews. Clearly, I am besotted. :)

All the casting for Hellcats has been solid. Ashley Tisdale brings a complexity to Savannah that couldn't be more different from Sharpay's broad comedic strokes, and there's a hint of sadness behind those big brown eyes that intrigues me. Savannah may be a control freak with OCD tendencies, but she's also compassionate and sincere, and Ashley makes her likable. I also enjoyed Matt Barr's easy charm as Dan, Robbie Jones' showmanship and humor (not to mention his rampant shirtlessness) as Lewis, and Heather Hemmens' mastery of the ice princess as Alice, who sees everything that gives her life meaning slipping through her fingers.

The pilot was understandably all about how Marti became a Hellcat. We saw a glimpse of her complicated family situation, and a little of her social life, which seemed to consist entirely of hanging out with Dan, but nothing of her in the classroom or the library, pursuing her studies. One of the best things about Hellcats doesn't show up until the third episode, when Gale Harold joins the cast as Marti's law professor, Julian. This show is about more than cheerleading, and I can't wait to see how the academic side of Marti's life fits into the mix.

I came to Hellcats first and foremost as a Tom Welling fan, and it certainly showed while I watched. His executive producer credit made me squee, and I spent much of the episode imagining him behind the cameras, and wondering which part he directed. When Marti was given #26 in the tryouts, it made me think of Tom's birthday. I had my fingers crossed that the ratings would be good, because I want Tom's show to be a success. And I waited through the whole episode to see the vanity card for Tom Welling Productions during the end credits, and then there wasn't one! But I would watch whether Tom was involved or not; I liked this show on its own merits.

Hellcats was far from perfect, but overall, for me, it was a win. I wasn't crazy about the voice-over segments, I thought the tumbling cheerleader wipes were cheesy, and some of the dialogue made me roll my eyes. I could nitpick a lot of the details. But I fell hard for Aly Michalka's performance, I connected with the characters, and I want to know what happens next. I loved all the dance sequences, especially Marti's practice session in her apartment, and the string of pop hits that made up the soundtrack. Quite simply, I bought in. I'll even admit that the slo-mo cheerleader strut to Mika's "We Are Golden" that closed out the episode gave me chills. So I say well done, Tom. Go Hellcats!


















Screen caps courtesy of marishna, with my thanks!

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28 comments or Leave a comment
Comments
jlvsclrk From: jlvsclrk Date: September 10th, 2010 03:07 pm (UTC) (Link)
I'll give it an A for Aly, and something like a B- for the rest. Enjoyable fluff for the most part, but I agree that Aly is fantastic and will certainly compel me to tune in each week. What were the ratings like, do you know yet?
tariel22 From: tariel22 Date: September 11th, 2010 01:26 pm (UTC) (Link)
I don't really understand the nuances of ratings, demos and all that, but I can tell you that they had 3 million viewers in the overnight ratings, and for the CW, I think that's pretty good. For comparison's sake, The Vampire Diaries had 3.3, and Nikita had 3.6.

It's funny how numbers can be interpreted in wildly opposing ways. I read articles that touted Hellcats' success, and others that crowed over its failure and predicted a speedy cancellation. The CW put a very positive spin on the show's performance, of course. You can read their press release about it HERE.
g_m_h_3 From: g_m_h_3 Date: September 10th, 2010 04:35 pm (UTC) (Link)
Did I hear a mention of a certain someone? *g*

"One of the best things about Hellcats doesn't show up until the third episode, when Gale Harold joins the cast as Marti's law professor, Julian. This show is about more than cheerleading, and I can't wait to see how the academic side of Marti's life fits into the mix."

I wholeheartedly agree! Can't wait to see Gale, obviously, but as well as that, it will be really interesting to see how they bring Marti's academic life into the storyline. It's something you don't often see, and I am intrigued to see how the two balance each other out. Loved Aly's comments about Julian in @cadlymack's interview the other day, about how he pushes Marti and gives her a hard time, but for her own good. It sounds like they have a great rapport and I can't wait to see how that comes across on screen. Here's hoping we don't have to wait until the end of 1x02 for the promos of 1x03! ;)

Wonderful recap, loved reading it :) I love that a lot of the reviews are already warming to the show, and it's really great to see that the ratings are looking good so far, too! WTG, Tom! And Go Hellcats indeed! \o/

Have a great weekend :)
tariel22 From: tariel22 Date: September 11th, 2010 01:57 pm (UTC) (Link)
It's something you don't often see, and I am intrigued to see how the two balance each other out.

I feel the same way. I'm most interested to see how Marti deals with being a part of something for which she previously had little respect, and seeing that same disdain in her professor's eyes. I'm sure she wants nothing more than to impress him, and all he will see at first is her cheer outfit. I can't wait to see their scenes together.

For some people on the squad, cheer is everything, but clearly that's not the case for Marti. Will we meet a whole new cast of characters who occupy the academic side of her life? And what will happen when her worlds collide, as we know they must?
whimsywinx From: whimsywinx Date: September 10th, 2010 05:36 pm (UTC) (Link)
YOU WROTE A REVIEW!!!

*passes out from the (happy) shock*
tariel22 From: tariel22 Date: September 11th, 2010 01:58 pm (UTC) (Link)
I'm pretty stunned myself! :D
chris_43 From: chris_43 Date: September 10th, 2010 05:41 pm (UTC) (Link)
Thanks for the great review, Trisha! I enjoyed Hellcats and like you said it was Marti's character that really draws you in. Savannah made me smile the whole time. I can't wait to learn what makes her tick...that innocent appearance, her dedication to cheerleading, her genuine good nature. I really found the writing on the arms to have a nice emotional tug.

But I couldn't care less about the triangle the show is setting up between Vanessa, Derrick, and Red, mostly because I can't fathom it. On one hand you have a hunky doctor who loves you, and on the other you have, well, a dick. Let's just say I was less than charmed.

This didn't go over well for me either. I didn't buy their scene at all and her reaction to him seemed sort childish instead of uncomfortable about seeing someone you had a intimate and possibly rocky past with. Derrick is gorgeous and so far seems like a good guy, Red was instantly unlikeable.

I also didn't like the tumbling cheerleader wipes. I would of expected that more if the show was a straight out comedy, but they didn't fit well to me. I did really enjoyed the performance/routine aspect and look forward to see more of that each week.

Can't wait for Gale Harold and more insight into Marti as a law student.

Congrats to Tom, the CW gave the shows ratings a nice nod to it's success for the premiere and I hope the ratings continue to improve.

I also loved that you thought of Tom's B-day with Marti's #26! Your such a GREAT Tom fan! :D
tariel22 From: tariel22 Date: September 12th, 2010 11:35 am (UTC) (Link)
I enjoyed Hellcats and like you said it was Marti's character that really draws you in.

You know, in some ways she reminds me of Clark, believe it or not. She's essentially a loner, going through challenges that no one else can fully understand, trying to find a balance between two worlds and figure out exactly who she is. She even has a BFF of the opposite sex who stares at her with his heart in his eyes when she's not looking! :) And Aly captivates me in much the same way that Tom did when I first saw Smallville's pilot.

Savannah made me smile the whole time.

I adore her! And I think Ashley put a lot of thought into her performance. You could see that there's a lot more going on there than what's on the surface. I liked the part with her writing words of inspiration on people, too.

Derrick is gorgeous and so far seems like a good guy, Red was instantly unlikeable.

I had the same reaction to Red, and yet Vanessa seemed charmed by his boorish behavior. He acted so immature, who finds that attractive? I was so not feeling it.

Can't wait for Gale Harold and more insight into Marti as a law student.

I've been watching QAF this week and remembering what an astonishing actor he is. I hope they give him a storyline worthy of his talents. I'm so curious to know how he ended up being cast in this role.

Did you see that the show got another 2.4 million viewers on Friday night, and led the hour in the Adults 18-49 demo? Not bad! I'm thrilled for Tom, although I'm not happy about Smallville being bumped, of course.

I also loved that you thought of Tom's B-day with Marti's #26!

LOL! I'm sure it was a complete coincidence, but I got a kick out of it all the same. :D I keep waiting for a Superman shout-out. A poster on a dorm wall, an action figure on a bookshelf, something like that. ;)
chris_43 From: chris_43 Date: September 12th, 2010 02:44 pm (UTC) (Link)
Did you see that the show got another 2.4 million viewers on Friday night, and led the hour in the Adults 18-49 demo? Not bad! I'm thrilled for Tom, although I'm not happy about Smallville being bumped, of course.

I was thrilled to see another 2.4 million! :D Normally, I would be disappointed that they bumped Smallville for a repeat of another series, but it's hard to be upset when the repeat can benefit Tom.



tariel22 From: tariel22 Date: September 13th, 2010 03:16 am (UTC) (Link)
I do want Smallville to get the promotion it deserves in this final season, and I think there are a lot of people who have left the show behind but might come back to see Clark complete his journey. At the same time, I know how critical it is to establish an audience for these new shows before the other networks bring in the heavy artillery in a couple of weeks, and I want Tom's new show to have every opportunity for success.

The fans of Smallville who are still watching after nine years won't stop because the show gets preempted for a couple of weeks. I just hope the network steps things up as the premiere approaches, and continues once S10 is underway. Sadly, I expect to be disappointed.
starry_dawn From: starry_dawn Date: September 10th, 2010 07:25 pm (UTC) (Link)
Your enthusiasm and optimism are infectious. I liked the Pilot, but didn't love it like I expected to, but your review makes me happy and hopeful. You're awesome, you know that? *smishes you*

I think the casting on this show is pretty damn good as well, and it's what could make this show really good. (Except Sharon Leal, though, because I'm not feeling her acting AT ALL.) Aly, especially, has tons of charisma, which I think will come in very handy. A nice bonus is that she and Ashley have lovely chemistry.

Hmm, I wonder why you chose that first cap? ;)
tariel22 From: tariel22 Date: September 12th, 2010 11:55 am (UTC) (Link)
Awww, thanks! I guess you might say I'm a Hellcats cheerleader! *ducks*

I couldn't get a handle on Sharon Leal's character at all. Vanessa was all over the place, and in the scenes where she was actively coaching (during tryouts and practice) her dialogue seemed awkward and forced. i don't know if that's the writing or the acting, but it wasn't working for me.

I love that first cap! :D Aly looks so beautiful, and we get Tom's credit as well! I'm inordinately happy that we'll see his name at the beginning of every episode. :)
carolandtom From: carolandtom Date: September 10th, 2010 07:38 pm (UTC) (Link)
I must be a terrible Tom fan because I haven't felt compelled enough to watch this show; not yet. I can't muster enough interest to do so, at least for the moment (sorry Tom! I hope not many people follow my bad example!) But I'm glad you liked it and I DO hope it's a success, for Tom's sake. Thanks a lot for being a better fan than me and for this great review!
tariel22 From: tariel22 Date: September 12th, 2010 12:12 pm (UTC) (Link)
That doesn't make you a bad fan! :) I didn't watch Hellcats out of loyalty to Tom, I would have watched it anyway. I'm a sucker for a good dance number, and I was already a fan of Aly, Ashley, and Matt from their other work. Being a fan of Tom's just makes me a little more invested in wanting the show to succeed.

Besides, judging by what I've read on my flist, plenty of Tom fans who did watch thought the show was awful, so maybe you dodged a bullet there. :) Thanks so much for your comment, Carol. *hugs*
colleen2328 From: colleen2328 Date: September 10th, 2010 07:59 pm (UTC) (Link)

Great review!

Love how you tied it all together. It's fun to know the in-jokes , too (#26). I was looking forward to this even before Gale and D. B. were cast. The routines and the music were good, and the dialogue improved as the show went on. Mean Grrl was the weak link for me (as a character); hopefully they'll show us another side of her, as they did so well with Savannah.

Marti and Lewis are great together: I've been wanting to see more of Robbie Jones since he was on "Southland" last year. Strong cast, so many possibilities. Hope D. B. gets more to do, too. "Hellcats" seems to have beaten expectations for ratings (unlike "Nikita", which I found very disappointing), and I'm so glad to see that.
colleen2328 From: colleen2328 Date: September 10th, 2010 08:45 pm (UTC) (Link)

Re: Great review!

Almost forgot: that photo montage at the end was hilarious! Ruth Bader (later Ginsberg) was such a cute cheerleader - and a majorette, too, lol! I'd heard about all the others except Meryl Streep. Who'd-a thunk?
tariel22 From: tariel22 Date: September 12th, 2010 11:09 pm (UTC) (Link)

Re: Great review!

I read about that famous cheerleader montage a while ago, and I wasn't sure how it would play out, but I liked it. Meryl Streep was too cute!
tariel22 From: tariel22 Date: September 12th, 2010 11:03 pm (UTC) (Link)

Re: Great review!

Way back when this project was first announced, almost a year ago, I read the book on which it was based, and that's what sparked my interest. Then Aly was cast as the lead, and I was already a fan of hers, so that pretty much sealed the deal right there. It was great to finally see the pilot after following its development every step of the way, and it did not disappoint.

I know what you mean about Alice. I did like the part when she watched the practice where Vanessa gushed over Marti, and you could see her eyes filling up with tears. As wrong as she is, at least we know her actions are coming from a place of pain and desperation, rather than being bitchy just for the fun of it.

It's funny how the ratings work. Hellcats was hyped by the network more, while Nikita was the critics' darling. I read predictions that Hellcats would have numbers as dismal as last season's TBL, and that Nikita would break records with its debut, and neither one came true. I think Hellcats did great. i just hope they can hold on to their viewers when Modern Family returns in two weeks (the same week as Gale's first episode).
el_elle_8 From: el_elle_8 Date: September 11th, 2010 01:50 am (UTC) (Link)
I found Hellcats entertaining, it made me laugh and also had some tension and drama. I liked the dynamics between Marti and Savannah and want to see how their relationship plays out. Lots of potential for this show to build off the pilot episode.

On another note, I will admit to watching the Tom Welling Executive Producer credit more than once and also wondering what parts of the pilot Tom directed. :D

Thanks for the review and lovely pictures!
tariel22 From: tariel22 Date: September 12th, 2010 11:21 pm (UTC) (Link)
I think Tom gave us a show that is fun to watch and that has some real heart as well. The relationship between Marti and Savannah is definitely my favorite, and casting Aly and Ashley in those roles was nothing short of brilliant. Tom obviously understands the CW's target demo perfectly, even if his own show appeals more to a different audience, and he has delivered an ideal product to the network. Smart man.

I'll never get tired of seeing Tom's name in the credits. I wonder how he likes being the boss? :)
gonturan From: gonturan Date: September 11th, 2010 09:18 pm (UTC) (Link)
I had my doubts up until she started practice dancing in her apartment. And then the try-outs when she did her own thing. LOVED IT! Sad Browder was not cast, but yayers Principal Wood!
tariel22 From: tariel22 Date: September 12th, 2010 11:37 pm (UTC) (Link)
I loved her exuberance when she was practicing, and the kickass attitude that made her stand out at the tryouts. Watching Aly dance was FUN. I liked Marti's toughness, and her tenderness.

Gale Harold almost makes up for losing Ben Browder, but even that quick glimpse of him in the background when Marti went to confront her mother in the pub made me squee. *sighs* I hope they give D.B. Woodside more to do in future episodes, he's dreamy AND a good actor.
silverscreengal From: silverscreengal Date: September 12th, 2010 04:01 am (UTC) (Link)
I'm glad you liked it. I know how much you have invested in it so I was hoping you would!!!

I can't tell whether it is going to be something that keeps me coming back week after week. If it wasn't for Tom, I would have never watched the pilot. But for his sake, I'm going to watch again. Damn! The things I'm willing to do for that man. ;)

Do you have any idea why there was no sign of his Production Company at the end of the show?? I was watching just to see his name at the beginning and the end.

tariel22 From: tariel22 Date: September 13th, 2010 01:24 am (UTC) (Link)
I don't know why there was no vanity card for his company. I figure Tom Welling Productions is to Hellcats what Tollin/Robbins Productions is to Smallville, and the TRP vanity card appears at the end of every episode of Smallville, along with that of AlMiles' company, Millar Gough Ink. I don't know how these things are worked out. And I have no idea who/what Five & Dime Productions is, either. It's a mystery! :)
tjw_jaypat From: tjw_jaypat Date: September 12th, 2010 02:37 pm (UTC) (Link)
At last I managed to download the episode and watch it. The show certainly is not my thing, and I won´t watch it again unless there is a guest appearance by Tom of course (or unless he directs a full episode). But it was pretty decent and not as bad as I had feared considering all the cheerleader stuff. Anyway, it seems it´s a shrewd project geared to the CW target group of young women, without falling below a certain level of quality.

What I missed in the main character is a certain charm. I know nothing about Michalka, so I have no idea if this is due to the actor or the character, but she seemed --hard to express this-- a little cold, not really personable. In fact I found Tisdale more likeable (not knowing anything about her either). Aly´s overall performance was good though. Yet I missed something that would make me really like the character. Dunno...

Oh, and that Louis has a great chest and body. Pity the camera was so high during that towel scene... lol
tariel22 From: tariel22 Date: September 13th, 2010 01:58 am (UTC) (Link)
Anyway, it seems it´s a shrewd project geared to the CW target group of young women, without falling below a certain level of quality.

I think that's an accurate description, that reflects the smart business sense behind the show. I happened to love it, but I was also impressed with how it was developed. Our Tom knows exactly what he is doing; just look at the success he has achieved with the very first project from his company!

It's interesting that you and I had such different perceptions of Marti. I saw her as someone who hides her vulnerability behind a tough exterior of sarcasm and cynicism, built up as a defense system after years of fending for herself and having her mother be the opposite of what a child needs. I liked her intelligence and wit, and I was on her side from the start. And when she let her guard down for a second, I rooted for her all the more. But I freely admit that a big part of that was probably because I was already an Aly fan going in.

I agree that Ashley was very likable. Her Savannah sparkled, and I thought her little quirks were cute. The line about coming up with a signal so she would know when Marti was joking made me laugh. :)

It looks like Lewis is going to rival Oliver Queen himself for shirtless scenes! I approve!

I think it was awesome of you to give the show a try. A lot of people didn't like Hellcats at all, and were pretty brutal about saying so, but I'm used to liking shows that others ridicule. After all, my favorite show is Smallville. ;)
audrey229 From: audrey229 Date: September 12th, 2010 08:32 pm (UTC) (Link)
I'm late to this party. :) I already left a brief comment on one of the other posts regarding the show so you probably already know that I liked it.

I really like Aly. I admit upfront that I have a soft spot in my heart for multi-talented performers. If someone can sing or dance then I'm automatically interested and intrigued to see what else they can do because I know musical studies require years of commitment and dedication. I also really admire the way she handles herself in interviews. She seems like a very sweet, sincere girl.

What I liked most about the show was the wholesome quality that came with it. It's something that I've missed on other shows on the CW since Gilmore Girls went off the air. It's a quality that Smallville has always had but Vampire Diaries (a show that I also really love) does not have. It's a hard thing to put your finger on but you can feel it when it's there. The show almost reminded me of something that would be on ABC family or Disney channel and I mean that as a compliment. I'm so tired of the Melrose Place/90210/Gossip Girl drama being the norm on television.

Ashley Tisdale really sold me as well. You could tell that she was a truly nice person despite some neurotic quirks. I am very interested in seeing the friendship develop between Savannah and Marti and I hope that their friendship is kept in the forefront.

Looking forward to seeing Gale Harold on the show and can't wait to see more of D.B. Woodside. I keep waiting for him to try and stake a vampire....but I'm sure that will subside in time. :)

Thanks for the review!
tariel22 From: tariel22 Date: September 13th, 2010 03:05 am (UTC) (Link)
I am so behind on replying to comments! Sorry about that.

I totally get what you're saying about the wholesome quality of Hellcats. I don't expect it to be an innocent show by any means, but I think at least the behavior we'll see will be age appropriate and based in realism, rather than completely over the top like in some other shows on the network.

Don't get me wrong, I watch Gossip Girl and used to love it (all the characters are so mean now, it's lost all its campy charm), but the way the show routinely shows teens ordering cocktails in bars, smoking pot, falling into bed with one another, and maliciously plotting to ruin each other's lives is crazy. :) Usually it just makes me laugh, but it kind of wears me out, too. I miss the WB, and shows like Gilmore Girls and Everwood.

I know it's inevitable that Marti and Savannah will have conflicts, and I'm interested to see where they go with that. I'd like to see them develop the kind of friendship that can withstand differences, and I'm hopeful that the show will avoid the cliched catfights we've seen a million times and give us something fresh and real.

I'm still amazed at all the talented actors who have joined Hellcats. I hope they all get the chance to show us what they're made of. And I was thinking the same thing about D.B. Woodside! :) I couldn't watch Bones at all for the first couple of seasons, I kept waiting for David Boreanaz to vamp out. I guess it was too soon. :)

Thanks so much for your comment!
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