October 21, 2016
        "Manchester by the Sea" leads the Gotham Award nominations                Tom Ford, Marc Platt and Kenneth Lonergan to be Honored at 20th Annual Hollywood Film Awards                Tom Cruise is in his action hero comfort zone with "Jack Reacher: Never Go Back"                "Moonlight" could be A24's big Oscar horse this year                Ewan McGregor steps behind the camera with "American Pastoral"                Hollywood Contenders: A second crack at Golden Globe predictions for 2016                "The Accountant" seeks to help give Ben Affleck another blockbuster                85 countries will be competing for Best Foreign Language Feature nominations at the Oscars                Tom Hanks to receive Hollywood Actor Award for "Sully" @ Hollywood Film Awards                "Certain Women" showcases Laura Dern, Kristen Stewart, and Michelle Williams                Ben Affleck is perhaps Hollywood's biggest and most diverse superstar                "The Birth of a Nation" looks to survive controversy and contend for awards                "The Girl on the Train" hopes to transport Emily Blunt to the Oscar race                "The Jungle Book," "Zootopia" and Craft Artists to be Honored at the 20th Annual Hollywood Film Awards                Ben Affleck's "Live By Night" officially is a 2016 contender        

“Hellcats” Preview: Hot Bodies and Big Cheers

By Fred Topel

HollywoodNews.com: The fall TV season starts this week with the premiere of The CW’s new series Hellcats. The cheerleading show brings high energy performance to CW drama. I can see this making the cut. The setting is perfect for teen drama, but the excitement of the sport could appeal to people who wouldn’t normally watch The CW.

The cheer numbers are a thrill to watch. They get mighty acrobatic, and display grace and energy when they’re dancing on the ground. There are plenty of fit, toned bodies but I’m happy to see some natural looks in the background or bottom of the pyramids too. I love seeing softer girls be just as acrobatic and strong. They’re all gorgeous. My favorite is Patti (Elena Esovolova). I hope she’s in more of future episodes.

There are also lots of scenes of the squad working out, clad even more scantily than when they perform. So this is a sexy show full of sleek, shiny, sweaty bodies. It’s not gratuitous either. This squad is hardcore and you’ve got to see their training as well as their final performance. Okay, the scenes of ladies stretching in sports bras and shorts might be gratuitous, but it’s hot. To be fair, So You Think You Can Dance shows that too. They’ve got a shower scene too and they make it sexy, while prime time friendly.

The story of a young student struggling through school and the realities of tuition will be relatable to young audiences.  The idea of budget cuts for arts programs and cutthroat university sports could develop into dramatic weekly stories. More importantly, if the emphasis remains on lots of cheerleading, some training and a big number each week, it won’t matter what the story is. They don’t even get to the big performance this week, they save that for episode two.

I do appreciate the respect for cheerleaders. Marti (Aly Michalka) has a bad attitude to begin with. It’s played for sassy confrontation but there’s something real beneath it. It might be easy to dismiss cheerleaders, so the haters should learn to respect the talent that goes into this. The cattiness is a little too much, but there are also some nice moments of honesty.

When Marti practices to the DVD of Bring it On it’s a funny bit of pseudo-Flashdance, expressing her secret talent when the world wants her to conform. Also, if one night of solo practice made her good enough to beat all the practicing cheerleaders at tryouts, that’s pretty good. Maybe her moves are a bit too much, but it’s all impressive to me and she’s supposed to be the unorthodox rebel.

The music is interesting. There’s the typical pop/dance that’s easy to choreograph to, but a few tunes that remix ‘80s hits. That’s a good way to bring the formula underdog genre to a new generation. For scene transitions, they have a cheerleader flip across the screen and the new scene follows her.

Hellcats fits in with the CW programming. It’s spunky, the dialogue is a little too clever to think people really talk like that, but it’s got good spirit. Everyone looks so happy, even the divas, and they are impressive physical performances. Anything else is incidental.

Hellcats premieres Wednesday on The CW.

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About Fred Topel

Fred Topel has been an entertainment journalist in Los Angeles since 1999, for websites like Daily Radar, About.com, Crave Online and Sci Fi Wire. Follow his celebrity encounters on Twitter @FredTopel.

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