Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Hellcats "A World Full of Strangers" (101)

“A World Full of Strangers” (Ep 101)
Marti Perkins is forced to take drastic steps when her scholarship is revoked.Original Air Date: Wednesday, Sept 8, 2010

Hellcats is a tale of a girl from the wrong side of the tracks joining a competitive cheerleading squad as a desperate measure to stay in college so she can eventually get out town and to a better life. Sounds great right. Very inspiring, very drama yet chocked full of quippy comedy moments. Perfect fare for the CW, a network known for their 90210 remake, Smallville and before the rebranding Buffy the Vampire Slayer. Heck it is even executive produced by Tom Welling (who also apparently created the show). It seems like it would be a show full of awesome moves, killer music, some college love etc. 

And it probably will be. But if this pilot is any sign it will also be a hopeless disaster of a show chocked full of bad writing etc. After enduring this episode, lets just say that I"m not feeling the spirit. 

Let's break it down and count it out as they say. 

We open with a reasonably cheeseless voice over about wonderful Memphis and what a mecca Lancer University is (think Harvard level school but in Tenessee). We see our heroine Marti riding her bike, because 'times are tough' and she can't afford to be driving a car. Okay fair enough. She meets up with her buddy Dan, who apparently is some kind of blue collar dock worker and not a college student. They rift some disdain about how dumb cheerleaders are while watching the team practicing. Marti makes some silly move of fake shooting one of the girls who then falls and hurts herself (Don't get me started on how awful the editing in that moment was). 

Later that night we see Marti biking home to a loft style apartment that even with the lower cost of living in Memphis screams more money than she and her single mother supposedly have. Without bothering to even remove her bike gloves, Marti starts writing checks for the bills (a sign she's the real 'parent' in the house I suppose) and finds a letter saying her scholarship has been pulled and her tuition is seriously past due. She then rides off to the campus bar where her mother works, where Mom poo-poo's the whole thing saying the Union rep told her they can't legally cut her scholarship and it will all blow over. 

Which is right there totally ridiculous. First off, unless Mommy has another on campus job we are supposed to believe that Lancer owns and operates a bar. Alright fine for the sake of suspension of disbelief we'll go with it. But then there's the scholarship bit. Last I checked universities don't give the staff's kids scholarships, they waive fees and give them reduced tuition. So wouldn't it have made more sense if the scholarship was from other group. Maybe even forget the university employee nonsense. But okay fine whatever, I'll excuse that also. 

Unfortunately things don't get much better. We move onto Marti getting into a verbal spat with one of the cheerleaders (actually the captain) right before she finds out that the squad is having tryouts because they need to replace the injured girl. Oh and cheerleading, as a sport, comes with a scholarship. Apparently a full one. 

Or at least I think the tryouts were just for a replacement. It's hard to tell when Marti makes reference to being 'one of the new girls'. This is one of the sloppy details in the show. Others include Marti being called hopeless for one misstep when everything else she did was spot on (mind you it was Alice the injuried girl who is clearly being set up as enemy number one). Then there is Coach Vanessa telling them to toss the rulebook and go have fun but we cut to them doing a typical routine (mind you to some pretty hot and hip music). Plus somehow they all have the skills for Marti's superfly dance moves but nobody thought to actually use them before she shows up. Double shocking when the routine during the auditions only lacked a little hip shaking to be right where Marti was dancing. Marti did years of competitive gymnastics and doesn't recognize the moves. Not buying it. Then there's barely seen buddy Dan supposedly being Mr Blue Collar but he has access to a superfly professional looking video camera. Not to mention him not making a single snarky comment about their disdain for cheerleaders at the auditions. Where's the fun moment of Marti trying to defend her desperation while Dan snarks it up but in the end gets  the notion that she's got to do something NOW and supports her because that's what friends do. 

And the biggest sloppiness is the total missed opportunities. Marti goes from anti-cheerleader to 'go team' girl in about five seconds. So much conflict lost. There's all this talk about training and such but we never see Marti struggling with a second of it. She's supposed to be a flyer and yet we never see her learning the moves. And the whole 'spice it up' is so glossed over when it was a prime chance for a turf war just by having it Marti try to suggest some new moves with Alice trying to diss and veto them. Plus how about stiff hips Savannah and Marti sharing some quality time with some mutual training tips and actually becoming friends. Toss in Alice actually seeing some flirting between Louis and Marti to make her jealousy make sense. They cover a week in less than an hour and it shows. They could have made the big event 'in a month' and mined a ton of awesome stuff. Heck they could have mined the whole 'trying to find money' a lot more and ended this hour with Marti finding out about the tryouts, although that would mean a lack of flashy moves which is so far about all that is good about the show. 

On the character front they do a little bit better but it is still weak. Savannah as the always positive girl with some serious OCD issues is fairly decent but Marti as 'white trash trying to get out' fails when her character is too accepting too fast. And Alice is total cookie cutter as the token bitch. As for Marti's mother, I'm just not buying the whole white trash or needy stuff. She comes off as more over protective than anything else. Certainly she isn't a woman that would fall apart at any moment as is implied. The only really good character moment thus far was the Admin Office verbal throw down when Savannah goes on a tear defending cheerleading as a sport. 

I want to give this show the benefit of the doubt and say this is just typical crappy pilot syndrome so I'll watch a couple more eps but I have a feeling that when it comes to the Hellcats, my hands won't be so jazzy. 


Pump it -- Black Eyed Peas
Broken Heels -- Alexandra Burke
Ghost Town -- Shiny Toy Guns
Hey Soul Sister -- Train
I Like to Dance -- Hot Chelle Rae
I Want Candy-- Bow Wow Wow 
Need You Now -- Lady Antebellum
Nobody -- Kate Earl
Rockstar -- Fefe Dobson
The Perfect Mistake -- Cartel
Till I Get to You -- Nikka Costa
We are Golden -- Mika
1901 -- Phoenix

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