In a media obsessed world, networks rival each other in hopes to come up with the “best” new drama. 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.
Nashville Pilot (2012) ABC TV Review
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 isn’t long ago that Rayna James (Connie Britton) was the future of country music but that’s before two kids (Lennon and Maisy Stella), marriage and a home 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. 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.
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I saw so many promo spots for Nashville that by the time its premiere rolls around, it’s like I’d seen the entire episode. This seemed “the” show the network relentlessly promoted. Given this has the “look” of being a trashy nighttime soap opera, finding it has talent in front of the camera is a surprise. Plus, some of the writing is good, too! If you suspect this to be nothing but a music industry rivalry between a fictional Martina McBride and Taylor Swift, you’re mistaken. There’s a lot going on in just episode one – from politics to horrible secrets – and everything sets up nicely.
What a cast this Nashville pilot boasts. Not only is it fun to see Close in something again, we also see familiar television veterans in Robert Wisdom; Charles Esten; Burgess Jenkins; and of course, Connie Britton (from NBC’s Friday Night Lights). Each of the actors is fabulous with convincing southern drawls if not the best of musical voices though none is more than Britton. In this first hour, writers inundate us with characters but each sets up to become an important puzzle piece. Lest you think this is going to be an uncomplicated show, think again. Already there’s hints of bad blood in families, former flame heartbreak, out-of-wedlock children and so many secrets. In addition to this, the whiny, pampered Juliette 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. Rayna is what we watch for because at the heart of the show, I think she’ll be the draw. First, the show has to survive its own rivalries.
Content: 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.