Thursday, July 21, 2011

Chloe'll do in a pinch.

I'm just going to say this off the bat: there's never going to be another Buffy the Vampire Slayer. There's no way to recapture that perfect storm of writing, cast, stories, and teenage drama that made Buffy such an amazing ride. And despite it's less than stellar ratings, Buffy has become a true part of American culture. Which of course means that television networks are going to forever try to duplicate it's formula.

You know what I mean: teenage girl (or guy) realizes she/he has superpowers, is part of some great mythical calling, and must become a leader in an ancient war...while at the same time balancing all the facets of what we call "normal" life. School, jobs, love...sometimes those things are harder than kicking the ass of fantastical creatures.

The Nine Lives of Chloe King currently airing on ABC Family is the latest in these Buffy-esque dramas. From wiki (with a little editing for clarity from yours truly):
Chloe King is a teenager who discovers she is a descendant of an ancient race called the Mai. She has special cat-like powers, including nine lives, superhuman speed, strength, hearing, agility, night vision and the ability to extend her nails like cat claws. The Mai once acted as defenders of humans and guardians for Egyptian pharaohs and are descendants of the Egyptian cat-goddess Bastet. Chloe has extra abilities even among the Mai, and her gift of nine lives marks her as the "Uniter," a warrior in a prophecy that states that she must save the world and both the Mai and Human races, and stop their war. She begins training with two other teenage Mai, named Jasmine and Alec, and is being pursued by a shadowy human organization known as The Order, who are trying to destroy all the Mai...especially the Uniter. Of course, she also has her trusty best (human) friends Paul and Amy who help keep her grounded in the "real" world.
The show is harmless fun. The whole cast is likable, especially Chloe, which is a good thing because if she was insufferable the rather lackluster plotting could become a problem. But Chloe, her friends, and her Mom (Amy Pietz--who was hilarious as the Mom on Aliens in America a few years ago) are all interesting and not annoying, which is more than you get from most shows about teenagers.

The Mai themselves are also pretty cool. Chloe picks up her new powers really quickly so there's no waiting for the badassery to start. Basically, she immediately starts kicking bad guy butt. And the concept of her nine lives is pretty interesting too--the show can feel free to kill her off a couple times and she'll bounce back, and it definitely gives a sense of weight to the show. You know going in that the heroine in this show will die. Sure, she'll come back, but when the bad guy wraps her in chains and dumps her in a pool of water there's real tension that she could actually drown horribly.

And of course there's romance. Mai can't get together with humans--even a kiss from a Mai is fatal to a human. So it makes Chloe's burgeoning romance with nice-guy Brian (whose father is connected to the Order) interesting. And hottie Mai Alec is pretty interested in Chloe as well. What's a girl to do? Thankfully, Chloe is not the kind to sit around whining and complaining about her love triangle woes--so far. It's also nice not to have to rehash the whole "I never wanted super powers all I want is a normal life!" plot. For the most part, Chloe is very accepting of her lot, takes to her new powers with relish, and despite the danger that accompanies her new role as the Uniter (both to herself and her family), seems to enjoy being a superhero.

For those looking for some mindless summer fun, I would definitely recommend The Nine Lives of Chloe King. Cool fights scenes, an interesting premise, and likable characters more than make up for the unclear (so far) back story and vague menace of the Big Bad. You can find the episodes that have already aired online or on On Demand, and check out the show Tuesday nights at 9:00 on AMC Family.

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