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Nashville: Pilot, 1.01 (2012)


In a media obsessed world, networks rival each other in hopes to come up with the “best” new drama when the new television season rolls around and this year, one of ABC’s most promoted dramas was this soapy tale of two rival country music stars. It has a unique voice – surprisingly, that will capture any music lover but ratings (ones that were dubbed, “solid”) will tell if that alone is enough.

From the outside, the Conrad / Jaymes clan looks like any other all-American family. They live in a beautiful home and are a two-parent, two-child family that is seemingly happy. But they aren’t normal nor are things all that rosy. It wasn’t long ago that Rayna James (Connie Britton) was the future of country music but that was before two kids (Lennon and Maisy Stella), marriage and a home that she cannot afford to keep unless she continues to work. Her husband, Teddy (Eric Close) is working very little so the responsibility to keep their life intact falls to Rayna. She doesn’t mind since her work is something she loves but in preparing to go out on yet another tour promoting the new album, her studio falls under new leadership, and they want her to pair up on tour with their newest sensation, the young Juliette Barnes (Hayden Panettiere). Rayna is appalled at the suggestion after twenty-one years at the record label she feels like they owe her more than this ultimatum and she isn’t about to degrade herself by coupling with Juliette, implying she believes the girl possesses any talent. If she doesn’t open for Juliette, the label will no longer support her album, leaving Rayna with very few options.

Her decisions become less about music and more about the complications of family when her wealthy, power hungry father (Powers Boothe) vets her husband for mayor, a choice that leaves Rayna upset knowing that her father wants something from Teddy – something that will indebt him to the father-in-law he doesn’t really know. This puts Rayna in a difficult position being friends with the man who would be her husband’s competition. Rivalries are born – in more than one sphere of Rayna’s life and juggling them be not be something she can handle without falling.

While watching the ABC network, I saw so many promo spots for Nashville that by the time its Wednesday night premiere rolled around, I commented that I felt like I’d seen the entire episode. This seemed “the” show the network relentlessly promoted. Given that it had the “look” of being a trashy nighttime soap opera, I was a bit taken aback that it has some talent in front of the camera and skilled writer’s – or that is what the pilot reveals. If you suspected or expected this to be nothing but a music industry tug-of-war and rivalry between a fictional Martina McBride and Taylor Swift, you’d be very much mistaken. There is a lot going on in just episode one – from politics to horrible secrets – and yet, through it all, everything is set up nicely.

What a cast Nashville boasts. Not only did I delight in seeing Close in something again, supporting role or not but we also see familiar television veterans in Robert Wisdom, Charles Esten, Burgess Jenkins and of course, the lovely star, Connie Britton who is well known to fans of a certain NBC teen drama. Each of the actors put in a fabulous performance including convincing southern drawls if not the best of musical voices to go along with though none is more compelling than Britton. In this first hour, writers inundate us with characters but each is set up to become an important piece to the puzzle without being overwhelming. Lest you think this is going to be an uncomplicated show, think again. Already there are hints of bad blood in families, former flames that have never gotten over heartbreak, out-of-wedlock children and oh-so-many secrets. In addition to that, the whiny, pampered Juliette didn’t come from privilege but she sure doesn’t know how to be a class act – she sleeps with anyone who will benefit her purposes and then moves on. More than anything, it’s a sad scenario because we do feel for her. She’d hurting in places she lets no one breach. The better qualities in Rayna are what we watch for because at the heart of the show, I think she will be what draws in viewers. First, the show has to survive its own rivalries.

(Be aware: There’s one implication of pre-marital sex [a girl lying in bed covered in sheets] and at least two other instances that may have gone further with Juliette flirting with two different guys [or basically any guy she thinks could be useful]. She tries to cajole a man to write with her suggesting she’ll sleep with him to get what she wants. There are implications that a woman has a child by another man unknown to her husband. Profanity is infrequent; a minor character is a drug addict. The rating is TVPG.) 
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12 comments:

  1. Oh my gosh, Rissi, I LOVE your webiste header. Doctor Who! Ten was my favorite. :-)

    Nashville sounds like its worth a try. I have family living in Nasville and have visited several times. Love the Grand Ole Opry and the Batman building. :-)

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  2. I'm glad that they gave Hayden's character dimension. It would have been hard sitting through and watching her get everything she wants and her life is perfect. It makes it more realistic as to why she acts the way that she does. Great review, girl!
    xo TJ

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  3. Your review makes me want to watch this one. It sounds interesting.

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  4. Loved the comparison between Martina McBride and Taylor Swift! It made me grin.

    I've seen the commercials and the premise doesn't impress me all that much. My family is also persnickety about what we watch and Nashville just doesn't fit the bill. I am glad to hear, however, that it wasn't just another drama-soap opera. :)

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  5. Girl, git yourself to a coffee-shop this week and join my link-up next Tuesday for a Starbucks Tuesday "coffee date!" Just for fun. :) More info posted on my blog later this week.

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  6. Gwendolyn - thanks! Designing this one was fun because I knew it could be crazy featuring the 'Doctor.' ;-D I've not watched any eps. (yet!) but am considering it: Would you recommend starting with Matt Smith's 'Doctor'? That's the series I am leaning towards...

    I was pleasantly surprised by Nashville but then I LOVE music and am very intrigued by the music industry so that likely played a role in my opinion. (No bias there, right!? LOL!) Never been to Nashville but it looks like a wonderful place! Maybe someday I'll get there. :-)

    TJ - yes, seeing Juliette (Hayden) be more than a "pretty face" was interesting but I am afraid that writer's may overdue her character: What do you see happening? They might make her fall "too much" into that trap and that can be problematic.

    Here's hoping that the show continues on the right path because the pilot was intriguing! :-)

    Chelsea - it was interesting. Being a music fan, I fell for the premise easily but in-between the drama, I think there is going to be some good to come from this. Enjoy if you see it!

    Rosie - ha! Thanks! I was sitting there typing away trying to come up with a way to illustrate the premise that was relevant to culture and I thought, "well... it would be equivalent to Swift and McBride!" As far as I know, they aren't "rivalries" but it worked. :-D

    The drama is basically what this show thinks it "needs" to thrive and while there is plenty of that, I also was impressed by how much heart it had - though I do keep in mind it was only the pilot episode. It helps, in my case that I am intrigued by the music world. Hopefully, the series will grow if it continues to air. :-)

    Kellie - I know, right!? I so need some Starbucks! The nearest one is like, an hour away so it's a treat. :-)

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  7. This one is on my to-watch list (for the time when I don't have 4 series to watch...) and I'm glad your review is positive.

    I have a soft spot for Eric Close, so I hope his character is going to be lovely and treated well.

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  8. Much to my surprise, I really enjoyed this one, Birdienl. It had heart and yet was a dramatic show that has promise to be an intelligent piece of TV. *fingers crossed*

    Eric Close: I liked him just fine in the pilot but rumor has it that an ex girlfriend may lure him away from his family which... I don't like. Hopefully it will be done "well."

    I hope you enjoy it - and I'd love to know what you thought of Nashville. :-)

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  9. I remember tweeting with you about the pilot episode, and I'm glad to see that you wrote a post detailing your impressions.

    I've watched the show from the beginning, and truly, it's gotten better each week. I have loved Connie Britton (especially since I've gone back and watched some of Friday Night Lights - liking it, too), and she does a great job on her vocals (as does Hayden, which was a surprise to me). Even in just 8 episodes, the complexity of the overall storyline has increased, but the show is still easy to follow. :o) Hope you'll have the opportunity to go back and catch the whole season!

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    Replies
    1. So do I, Christy - I was delighted that someone else was enjoying it too. :) Thank you for stopping by and reading this.

      Once the DVD set releases, I will most definitely watch it from beginning to end. The promo spots are leaving me curious and I was impressed with the structure of the pilot - it seemed more than just a "soapy" drama (even though there is plenty of angst!). Glad to know it's still good - and that the voices are decent. I saw the soundtrack released this week so I might have to pick it up. :) Glad you shared your thoughts, Christy. Thanks!

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