Tonight I think I realized the problem with "Hellcats" (well, aside from the cliched writing and mediocre acting): Marti (the main character played by Aly Michalka) is the least interesting of the key characters, and the conflict they've created with her mother is so one-sided that you really do just find yourself rooting for the mother to go away.
That said, the show was still watchable tonight, in part because of the mama drama (and general family drama) with Ashley Tisdale's Savannah. I never thought I'd say this, but Tisdale is actually proving to be a solid actress, playing Savannah with the perfect perkiness of a stereotypical cheerleader when needed, but easily shifting to the more dramatic tenor her character requires when dealing with her secrets. Her little prayer scene just before the cheer competition was pretty well done, though I can't help but think it would have been better without the cheesy pop song playing over it. Oh, and Dan's sudden interest in Savannah? That's so a smokescreen to make Marti jealous, and that's going to backfire on everyone.
My favorite scene in the episode, though, once again went to Vanessa (the Hellcats coach), her doctor boyfriend (played ably, if sparingly, by D.B. Woodside) and the smarmy new football coach, who reminds me so much of Nick Saban (minus 20 years), right down to the reference to him "turning around the program down in Louisiana".
Also, I was really looking forward to the competition scene (confession: despite my protestations that cheerleading isn't a sport, I've always been impressed by competitive cheerleading), right up until the second that 3OH!3's "My First Kiss" came on. I know it's just further proof that I'm not in the target demo for this show, but man, I hate that song.
For more coverage of the 2010-11 television season, visit the AdamReisinger.com TV Reviews home page.