Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Review - Nashville

Man, do I love a good pilot!

Nashville, premiering tonight at 10 p.m. on ABC, is as good as you've heard.  It's the next delicious new soapy drama with all that makes the genre so hard to resist - heroes, villains, greed, manipulation, fighting back, betrayal, ultimatums, triumph, set backs, etc.

Mild spoilers ahead
Nashville stars Connie Britton (Friday Night Lights, American Horror Story) as reigning Queen of Country Rayna James, who has dominated the country music scene for over 20 years.  But her newest tour isn't selling and her star is falling, causing her longtime label to lose faith in her, threatening to pull their support.

They do have one solution:  Rayna would "co-headline" with music's hot new #1 cross-over artist Juliette Barnes (Hayden Panettiere, Heroes), a sexy, sassy vixen with a heart of coal and a tendency to chew men up and spit them out.  A word that rhymes with "itch" definitely comes to mind.  To be fair, she doesn't have the best past - mom is a drug addict - but this is a girl you're going to love to hate, and Rayna's reactions to her (Britton's facial expressions are hilariously priceless in those moments) make it clear that this reluctant pairing ain't gonna fly.

Rayna must also deal with father Lamar (Powers Booth, 24), a successful businessman with whom Rayna has an extremely volatile relationship (could never see her ever being Daddy's little girl).  Lamar is dead set on having as much local power as possible, so he sets up son-in-law Teddy (Eric Close, Suits, Without a Trace) to run for mayor by playing up the "finally-get-out-of-Rayna's-shadow" card.  Sister Tandy (Judith Hoag, Big Love) is on board, proving that the sisters couldn't be more different.  Then there's the mysterious secret (paternity, maybe?) about one of Rayna's two daughters, thrown out in a heated argument with dad.  Wonder what that's about ... so juicy!

I didn't feel like I was watching a TV show with this pilot.  I felt like a fly on the wall witnessing these people's lives, and that's a testament to the quality of this show.  Britton is effortless in the lead role and I'm not an expert on the Tennessee accent but I bought her as a native completely (Britton hails from Boston).  Panattiere is clearly having fun in the role and she's a great foil for Rayna.  Despite Rayna's response to the labels ultimatum ("You can kiss my decision as it's walkin' out the door."), you just KNOW that tour is gonna happen.  How can it not with all those claws poised to strike?

Nashville is the brainchild of Callie Khouri, who knows how to write strong women with bite (she penned Thelma and Louise).  The show co-stars Charles Esten (Enlightened, Big Love) as Deacon, Rayna's bandleader of 20 years who harbors a long, unrequited love for her.  It's not long before Juliette lures him into her seductive web.  There's another story line about Deacon's niece Scarlett (Clare Bowen, Home and Away) possibly becoming another rising star, but it was a B-story we'll explore further, especially since the pilot left us believing she may be the key to Rayna's situation.

I'm not the biggest fan of country music, but the songs so far are quite catchy.  May make a playlist sometime in the future if they're made available.

I've anticipated this show for a while and I wasn't disappointed.  Kudos to ABC for finding these delicious gems of drama (they also feed us the superbly addictive Revenge).

Bottom Line:  Have a grand ole time with Nashville.

Nashville premieres tonight at 10 p.m. on ABC.

1 comment:

  1. Well you know I've got something to say about THIS show...

    I love it! Many attempts have been made at putting Nashville at the center of a series or movie and they have mostly failed. This one gets it right. I love that one of the centerpieces of the show is The Bluebird Cafe, where I've played many times. No one hangs out at Tootsie's, though. Not the locals, anyway. But their efforts to make the city a main character makes me very happy and it's been a wonderful treat to recognize location after location while I'm watching.

    As for the story, I like Connie Britton as Rayna, I think it's a good fit (even if she is a less than stellar singer...seriously, no one got her a vocal coach before working on this show???) and Hayden plays a STELLAR spoiled brat! The music is amazing because the gifted T. Bone Burnett is the music supervisor and we all know what he did with "Oh Brother Where Art Thou" and "Crazy heart." That guy's got his pulse on what Nashville SHOULD be putting on the radio.

    Love this show and look forward to it every week!