ABC Family continues to evolve their brand when they launch a new series tonight, The Nine Lives of Chloe King. While it focuses on a teenage girl, like most of their other original series, this is the network’s first foray into the paranormal. They deserve props for not throwing out yet another vampire series, but was an adaptation of Catwoman worth the gamble?
Chloe King is a high school girl on the verge of turning sweet 16 when we meet her and her friends Amy and Paul. The trio are BFF’s with a shared history and appropriately adorable set of quirks, but Chloe yearns for a more exciting life. She’d like to actually kiss a boy. Be careful what you wish for, young lady. With the magical birthday drawing nigh, Chloe starts to exhibit some odd abilities: agility, swiftness, giant claws… On top of that, cute boys are suddenly coming out of the woodwork!
There’s sweet Xavier who she meets at a club, arrogant jock Alek who tries to put the moves on her, and hottie Brian who actually asks her out. Of course, nothing is as it appears. Xavier pays a price for coming into contact with Chloe, Alek turns out to be someone who will become very important to her, and Brian may not be as squeaky clean as she thinks. As if supernatural abilities and boy troubles weren’t enough, Chloe also has to deal with a mysterious scarred man who test the “nine lives” conceit before the opening credits.
This isn’t just another story of a teenage girl, of course. Those abilities Chloe discovers are a legacy from her birth parents, apparently deceased, and mark her as one of the Mai, a supernatural race descended from an Egyptian cat deity. Yes, Chloe is the descendant of a cat god, thus the emerging feline traits and nine lives. This is a tricky supernatural path to trod, one that’s littered with failed attempts at making Catwoman a successful franchise. While this isn’t strictly the comic book story, it’s similar enough to veer close to the cheese that felled other projects. What might save The Nine Lives of Chloe King is the lead actress, Skyler Samuels, and supporting players Amy Pietz and Grace Phipps. As Chloe’s mom and best friend, respectively, the two have terrific chemistry with Samuels in the lead role and exhibit a confidence in their roles that most of the men lack so far. (Grey Damon’s Brian is a notable exception.)
Chloe’s path to learning about her lineage and abilities is a parallel to the transition from child to young adult to adult, similar to how Buffy the Vampire Slayer worked in metaphor and analogy. The Nine Lives of Chloe King isn’t as witty as Buffy could be, but there’s enough drama, intrigue, romance, and action to be worth a look. Catch the debut of The Nine Lives of Chloe King tonight at 9/8c on ABC Family.