The Nine Lives of Chloe King premiered last night on ABC Family, and while it's certainly no Buffy as some had hoped (perhaps we should all just stop thinking there ever will be another Buffy?), it's definitely no Sabrina, the Teenage Witch, either.
As the show begins, Chloe King is about to turn 16 (remember what a big deal that was?) and she wants more excitement in her life. She heads to a club with her friends, kisses a guy and then her life goes pretty much haywire after that. She begins to realize she has powers -- she can hear incredibly well, is agile and fast, and... has good aim? (Do cats have good aim?) Yes, we saw the promos, so we all knew Chloe was going to discover her powers, but it wasn't boring by any means.
That's because Chloe is (at first) psyched about about what's happening to her. In this summer's other teen-turned-animal drama, Teen Wolf, Scott's ambivalence towards his newfound powers worked for the show -- he's an ambivalent person in general. But in the same way, Chloe's excitement about her newfound powers works for Nine Lives. She was missing something in her life, and this was it. By the time she was trying out her abilities in a construction site, climbing scaffolding and jumping over dumpsters, I was sold.
But, of course, the more intense her powers get, the more she worries. She starts to wonder about her birth parents, meets a cute guy (Friday Night Lights' Grey Damon!), is thrown off a balcony, finds out who she is and what she is and learns that she can't kiss non-cat guys without killing them and about a million other things. There is a lot going on, but that's a good thing -- it keeps the show moving, and it's as messy as adolescence is.
The best thing about Chloe, though, is how un-cool she is -- and how that makes her cool. The network that is home to Pretty Little Liars -- beautiful, well-dressed and popular girls -- needed someone like Chloe. She's a dork, but it's sweet and relatable, not laugh-track obnoxious. And she's tough, hilariously rejecting guys she thinks aren't worthy of her time, and bantering with her best friends and mother like a more natural version of Rory Gilmore. Huge props to actress Skyler Samuels for selling it, and also for being able to deliver the line, "I like [the cold]...makes me feel alive," without sounding too cheesy.
So while the show isn't the heir-apparent to Joss Whedon's girl-power creations, that's okay -- it's not trying to be (it's on ABC Family, for crying out loud). Nine Lives has a pulse and squeezed in more compelling storylines into its premiere than there was in an entire season of 90210. This kitten's got claws - and they're in me.
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