Hellcats (Wed., Sept. 8 @ 9:00 PM, The CW)
* The competition: “Modern Family” and “Cougar Town” (ABC), “Criminal Minds” (CBS), “Law & Order: Special Victims Unit” (NBC), “Hell’s Kitchen” (Fox)
Starring: Aly Michalka, Ashley Tisdale, Gail O’Grady, Heather Hemmens, Robbie Jones, Matt Barr, Sharon Leal, Jeff Hephner, D.B. Woodside, Elena Esovolova
Producers: Tom Welling (“Smallville”), Kevin Murphy (“Desperate Housewives”), Allan Arkush (“Heroes”)
Network’s Description: a pumped-up drama about a young pre-law student whose world is turned upside-down when she loses her scholarship and has to join the college’s competitive cheerleading squad. This fun, energetic series is a behind-the-scenes look at the drama, politics and pressure surrounding the football program at a Southern university.
The Buzz: This isn’t a show for critics. It’s a show for CW viewers. Rarely do these two demographics meet. Granted, the slot behind “America’s Next Top Model” has killed many a newcomer, but they’ve got a lot of spirit, these Hellcats, so you never know what stunts they might be able to pull off.
Pilot Highlight: It’s a tie between Marti’s audition for the cheering squad and – spoiler alert! – her first practice after making the squad. Both offer awesome choreography and, yes, you lechers, lots of sexy cheerleaders dancing their asses off.
Bottom Line: At the very least, there’s more to it than the average non-female viewer will probably want to admit – yes, that’s right, sir, I’m speaking to you – but your appreciation of it will depend heavily on how you approach the material. This ain’t Shakespeare, people. It’s an hourlong TV series about cheerleaders. Set your standards appropriately, and you might just enjoy it…and if you don’t, then you almost certainly know someone who will.
Nikita (Thurs., Sept. 9 @ 9:00 PM, The CW)
* The competition: “Grey’s Anatomy” (ABC), “CSI: Crime Scene Investigations” (CBS), “The Office” and “Outsourced” (NBC), “Fringe” (Fox)
Starring: Maggie Q, Lyndsy Fonseca, Shane West, Aaron Stanford, Ashton Holmes, Tiffany Hines, Melinda Clarke, Xander Berkeley
Producers: Craig Silverstein (“Bones”), Danny Cannon (“CSI,” “The Forgotten,” “Dark Blue”), McG and Peter Johnson (“Human Target”)
Network’s Description: a spy and assassin for a top secret U.S. government agency rebels against the system that created her and will stop at nothing to bring their powerful operation to an end.
The Buzz: There are a lot of folks muttering about how it hasn’t been all that long since the USA Network’s “La Femme Nikita” series, but a lot of them have walked away surprisingly impressed with the action delivered by the pilot.
Pilot Highlight: The sequence where Nikita sports a very impressive red bathing suit, slips into a hot tub with her target, and takes him down.
Bottom Line: It’s not the perfect pairing for “The Vampire Diaries,” but when you consider the fact that the women who swoon over the undead might also enjoy seeing other members of their gender doing a little well-choreographed ass-kicking, it’s not the craziest match-up in the world. Given the relatively low ratings standards of The CW, the established fans of the “Nikita” franchise might manage to make it into a success for the network.