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Review: Nashville

October 8, 2012

Photo courtesy of ABC

I will admit, as a former resident of Music City, and a fan of the Emmy-nominated Connie Britton, I was excited to watch the pilot for ABC‘s soapy drama Nashville. It debuts this Wednesday night (October 10) at 10PM EST, but I have it embedded below for you to catch it early. I hate knowing too much about a show before I watch it, so I will not say anything else. Check out my comments after you’ve seen the episode.

First, let’s cheer that ABC has chosen a city other than New York or LA for a showbiz-set drama. Then, let’s do even more cheering that no one was painted as a backwoods hayseed walking around barefoot and only having three teeth, since that is the primary depiction of Southerners, and Nashvillians in particular, in televised arts. And last, but certainly not least, let’s cheer that while there are some elements of soap opera, Nashville appears to be smarter than I expected.

Former Nashville resident, Callie Khouri won an Oscar for writing the best screenplay of 1991 for her first project, Thelma & Louise. Her husband, T-Bone Burnett has an Oscar (Crazy Heart) and two Grammys (Walk the Line, O Brother, Where Art Thou?) sitting on his desk. Khouri created the concept for Nashville and Burnett crafted the music behind the scenes. And, without telling me, they created a show that is one part Smash, (despite the premise, I wasn’t expecting all the singing; with original songs from folks like Lucinda Williams) one part Dallas (Nashville is a member of the cast as much as Dallas’ own locale was a part of theirs) and one part Friday Night Lights (Mrs. Coach will forever hold a place in my heart and Britton makes us feel like she’s one of our best friends. Beyond that, though, she gives the show nuance).

Britton’ s Rayna Jaymes is a huge name, who’s star is starting to dim, despite her 9 Grammy wins. Hayden Panettiere’s Juliette is a bold young lady willing to sleep with anyone to get what she wants. And she wants a lot. Powers Boothe does what he does best, playing an old-school politician with devilish glee. And Jonathan Jackson, who grew up playing Luke and Laura’s son on General Hospital, plays Avery Barkley, an up and coming singer/songwriter. Other cast members include Scarlett O’Connoras Clare Brown, Avery’s girlfriend and singing partner and Charles Esten as Deacon Claybourne, Rayna’s long-time guitarist with whom she shares what looks to be an interesting past.

A couple more things to note: this show is a bit of a valentine to the genre of country music, from classic country and western to more modern, pop-ish songs. Nashville stalwarts, like Bluebird Café (if you’re in country music, this is the place to earn your cred), the Grand Ole Opry, Loveless Motel and Café and Music Row are all referenced in the pilot and I hope to see them continue to receive attention.

Overall, the show has more potential than the commercials have led us to believe. I think it has a lot of potential to debut to good numbers ratings-wise, and I hope folks stick around. I will.

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Not yet following me on Twitter? Get on the sofa: @josephrileyland

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