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THR's 'Hellcats' review: 'surprisingly sweet'

From Hollywood Reporter's rave review of The CW's new cheerleader drama...

cw hellcats thumb 572xauto 146560Once the concept is firmly established, "Hellcats" makes a graceful backflip, with multilayered characters that defy expectations. Marti's new compatriots include admiring male cheerleader Lewis (Robbie Jones), who is flirtatious but kind, and Savannah (Ashley Tisdale), who gives a blistering defense of cheerleading as a sport to Marti but also is honest about wanting her to do well on the team.

"Don't drift," Dan cautions Marti once she seems to accept that there's more to these "cult" members than she thought, but of course she will. There's a certain thrill in watching the outsider taken in and made a part of the family, rather than converting everyone else to her cause, and "Hellcats" promises plenty of creative push-pull in episodes to come. It would have been easy to turn this show into a hair-pulling, claws-out bitch fest -- heck, with that title, it's almost false advertising not to. But while there's plenty of meanness, soap opera antics and titillation (plus lingering camera shots of Marti's smokin' bod) going on, "Hellcats" stacks up well against expectations. Three cheers.