We are almost ready to start bringing you some new reviews, but we had a little past business to take care of while the networks slowly begin to deliver new shows to our homes. This week, Tiffany and I revisit a few shows that we left on the back burner, and let you know what we think now that those shows have had time to simmer.
What’s on the fire here?
I should start out by mentioning that I am not a big country music fan. I listened to (and even enjoyed) some for a time in my teens, mostly due to being best friend’s with a girl who’s family only listened to country and oldies. (How I survived those summers, the world may never know.) I even went to a Garth Brooks concert. And got invited to party with the crew after.
But, for the most part, I rarely turn my radio dial to a country station.
You might have guessed with a title like Nashville, this new TV show has something to do with country music. And you would be right.
The story follows Rayna James (Connie Britton) as a seasoned, successful country music star. She’s been doing this for quite some time, and while she is still talented, the music scene is changing. Enter Juliette Barnes (Hayden Panetierre), a young, beautiful, and bratty, to say the least, singer.
From the start, there is a definite tension between the old and new, complete with catty exchanges. Juliette is the label’s rising star, sexy, young, and likely heavily produced, willing to do whatever it takes to secure her role at the top. Rayna, while not strictly old-school-twangy-traditional, is far from the pop-ified version of country climbing the charts, and is reluctant to agree to her label’s proposal for raising her tours ticket sales. [You can probably guess what that proposal is, but I’ll let you watch and find out.]
Is this show just a country music All About Eve, a story of female competition?
Not quite. There’s drama at home, too. Rayna’s husband (Eric Close) has suffered from the economic downturn, making Rayna’s continued success in the industry that much more important, and the strain on their marriage doesn’t seem to stop there. Rayna’s father (Powers Boothe) is a very powerful man in Nashville, and a man she doesn’t seem to like very much. He makes matters worse when he gets her husband involved in a new career path (again, you’ll have to watch to find out what that is).
Family drama isn’t limited to Rayna. Young Juliette’s impossible behavior begins to make sense as the audience is given a glimpse of what she has waiting for her back home.
A lot of critics are hailing this show as one of the fall seasons best new shows. I think this may be a little premature, a kneejerk reaction to the gone-to-soon days of Connie Britton’s Friday Night Lights. Like FNL, the subject matter may turn viewers away before they even give the show a chance. FNL was about more than football, and Nashville promises to be about more than country music.
Connie Britton is great, as she always is, and if the Hayden’s Panetierre’s goal in the first episode is to make me hate Juliette, well, she did her job.
Now, before I give this a rating, I have to address the music. It’s a well-known fact around here that I love music and all things musical, but TV shows that have tried mixing music in have left me less than enthused (I’m looking at you, Glee and Smash). Given that Nashville is country music, I figured that my reaction would be rather blah.
Nashville already does a better job of integration into the show, which I believe gives it the opportunity to appeal to a broader audience (you know, those folks who don’t like when people spontaneously burst into song). The characters sing in places that makes sense; concerts, events, studios, clubs.
The music itself didn’t wow me. At first. As I mentioned, country isn’t exactly my thing. But two things happened that made me want to tune in again.
First, Rayna has two daughters, who in one very brief scene are singing along to the radio (a song of Juliette’s, of course), and their cute little voices made me think, wow, they sound pretty good. That’s because they are real life YouTube sensations, Lennon and Maisy Stella. They are adorable and talented and I have hopes that the show’s choice to bring these sisters on means they will be showcasing their voices in the future.
Second, and this is the big one for me, was the final song of the episode. Scarlett (Clare Bowen) and Gunnar (Sam Palladio), two characters that will likely play a big role in the show, perform a song that the audience is told is a poem young Scarlett wrote, and Gunnar set to music. The song is beautiful, and beautifully performed.
[You can view the song here, but be aware that you may see some spoilers.]
And it’s not a show original. It’s a song by The Civil Wars. (While I don’t love country, I do adore bluegrass and folk. Go figure.) If you aren’t listening to them, set those fingers to googling right now. They are amazing.
This doesn’t appear to be the only time incredible talent will be gracing the show. John Paul White of The Civil Wars, Elvis Costello, and Hilary Lindsey are all rumored to be composing original songs for the show.
So, now that I’ve had time to let this show simmer, what do I think? The show isn’t my typical fare. The “drama” is a bit trite, and the overall tone is, for lack of a better word, “soap-opera-y”.
While I don’t rush to catch each episode, I have seen them all, which is more than I can say for a lot of other shows on TV right now. So, I give Nashville a solid JFTV.
You can find Nashville on ABC, 10 PM on Wednesday nights.
Did you watch Nashville? Are you a fan of country music? What will it take to make you tune in?
Now head to Tiffany’s where she let’s us know what show she’s heating up.
Remember to stop by the #watchwed hashtag in Twitter to discuss any of today’s reviews, or to mention any television programs that you’d like to see on Why It’s Worth a Watch Wednesday in the future.
A Recap of The WatchWed Review System:
GTV (Gourmet TV): Everything we want and more
MacTV (MacNCheese TV): Guilty pleasure. Not perfect, but is satisfies
JFTV (Junk food TV): It’s not great for us, but we’ll go back for seconds
TBPTV (Twice Baked Potato TV): Part gourmet and delicious, while absolutely horrible for our cholesterol
SSTV (Still Simmering TV): It has potential, but the jury is still out
NIV (Nyquil Induced Viewing): Perfect for that late night television sleep timer
LOTV (Liver&Onions TV): Do we really have to explain? Blech