One lazy Sunday, while perusing On Demand, I happened across the Nine Lives of Chloe King, and decided to give it a shot. As a secret fan of The Vampire Diaries and an uber-geek for Buffy, I was willing to entertain the idea of another supernatural teen show in my TV regimen. Unfortunately, this show blows. Starring an undeniably cute Skylar Samuels as the titular character and Grey Damon as her love interest (a very pretty man who looks suspiciously like Stefan in VD), ABC Family airs this half-assed attempt at a mystical adolescent drama on Tuesday nights, but I wish they wouldn’t.
Another beautiful sixteen-year-old girl wishes for her humdrum life to change, and soon wishes for it to return to normalcy. This sounds familiar. An excited running and jumping montage in abandoned alleys ensues as she discovers her supernatural abilities. (I know the first Spiderman was almost ten years ago, but I think we all remember when this sequence happened with Peter Parker). But the fun is soon over when she realizes that it’s not all boys and basketball skills and a really awesome retractable manicure, and Chloe begins to realize what it means to be a member of a cat-like race of super-humans of which she is the most super, and therefore the most in peril (from the classic evil cult of black-clad bad guys, appropriately titled ‘The Order’). Can she save her friends and herself while also sparking a romance that she can never consummate? While she learn more about what she is from her absent Ukrainian birth parents and her missing adoptive father? Do we care?
Attempting something completely new is a quality that should generally be applauded, but combining it with such overdone and—frankly—boring storylines of guilt over the unintentional harm to an innocent or the old “who are my parents” routine is just wasting everyone’s time. The show attempts to launch a completely unfamiliar (and a little bit ludicrous) mythos and get the audience to accept it readily, while offering very little compelling information. Even the background we learn about Chloe’s “race” is regurgitated from all the press releases about the show, and rushed through during the premiere; it feels like the writers assumed that their audience already knew this stuff, so they just did an obligatory and predictable run-through for the less informed. Very soon we learn that however new this show’s mythology may be, the characters are still victims of bad on-screen drama.
Skylar Samuels makes an eager attempt at achieving the likeability of other TV heroines, but her irritatingly bubbly personality tempered by sudden seriousness makes for an inconsistent and played-out main character. The over-wrought girliness and emphasis on getting a first kiss is almost painful to endure, while the idea that a girl who looks like Chloe never gets looked at by a high school boy is even harder to swallow. It has to be pointed out that if, on a first date, your date immediately opens up to you about her intense parental abandonment drama, you should probably bail, not bring her flowers.
But I can’t lay the blame at Skylar’s feet, or even the author who wrote the original book of Chloe’s story, when good writing can save the worst of cinema. Look at True Blood: Alan Ball took the appallingly bad books and made television gold. Meanwhile, the writers of this show clearly put so little effort into writing the screenplay, I am almost offended. With such a weak foundation and surprisingly little innovation, this show gets two big thumbs down from me, and a plea to others not to make the same mistake I did, just spare yourselves the trouble.