Tag Archives: Nashville

Fall 2012 Review: Nashville

16 Oct

I always love to hear of a pilot that doesn’t immediately sound like any other program I can think of.  Sure, when you get down to the nuts and bolts, almost every show incorporates elements from other shows, and that’s natural.  It’s not the most important factor into whether a show is actually good, but it is amongst the most important factors in determining whether a new show sounds interesting before you actually watch.  Nashville, based around the country music world in the titular city, seems very likely to be both new and good, based on the pilot, a rare and welcome combination.

Nashville has a fairly decent amount of moving parts for a show that’s not a complicated conspiracy show like Last Resort or Revolution.  Connie Britton (Friday Night Lights’ Tami Taylor) plays aging country star Rayna James, who finds out to her dismay that she doesn’t have as much juice as she once did, and her record and upcoming tour aren’t selling..  Because of this, her label wants her to open for hot young country thing Juliette Barnes (Heroes’ Hayden Panettierre), who is after James’ bandleader, for personal and professional reasons, as well as her fame.  Neither of the woman like one another; James sees Barnes as a flash in the pan making adolescent garbage, while Barnes sees James as an aging fossil whose time has come.

As if this music angle wasn’t enough, it turns out that James’ father Lamar Wyatt (Powers Boothe) is one of the most powerful men in Nashville.  The two of them don’t get along great, but they communicate through James’ sister, who is being groomed to take over the family business when their father retires.  Lamar wants James’ husband, Teddy, frustrated with not being the breadwinner in his family for years, to run for mayor against James’ friend, Coleman Carlisle (played by The Wire’s Bunny Colvin himself, Robert Wisdom).  James then has to deal with conflicting loyalties personally and professionally, which deal with her career, the future of country music, and the future of the city of Nashville.

I’m not sure exactly who else the other main characters are going to be, and what kind of role they will be play, but there’s a legendary old songwriter who is friends with James, James’s bandleader’s niece, who is a poet and possibly an up and coming songwriter, the niece’s boyfriend, a bad boy type, and some other young songwriter, all of which I didn’t get a great feel for initially due to the logical focus on James and Barnes in the first episode.

James and Barnes were plenty compelling on their own even after just forty minutes.  While ostensibly James is the hero and Barnes the villain, both characters already seem like they should be far more multifaceted than that.  James exhibits occasional diva-like behavior, and though understandably upset with her lack of popularity, is less than graceful when coming to terms with the reality of her difficult situation.  Barnes is mostly an ambitious man-hungry prima donna who has trouble being nice even for a few minutes, but her possible character building set up involves a drug addict mother constantly calling her for money.  I think there’s lots of possibilities for complex relationships between characters which are neither perfect nor evil, and these are good things.

Will I watch it again?  Yes.  From pilot alone, I think it’s the best hour long I’ve seen this season, with Last Resort the only other in contention.  I was excited before I saw it, and I’m even more excited afterwards.  We could have the makings of a really strong show.  This show received the greatest possible endorsement when, after finishing the first episode, I realized I wished I had a second to throw on right away.

Fall 2012 Previews and Predictions: ABC

13 Sep

(In order to meld the spirit of futile sports predictions with the high stakes world of the who-will-be-cancelled-first fall television season, I’ve set up a very simple system of predictions for how long new shows will last.  Each day, I’ll (I’m aware I switched between we and I) lay out a network’s new shows scheduled to debut in the fall (reality shows not included – I’m already going to fail miserably on scripted shows, I don’t need to tackle a whole other animal) with my prediction of which of three categories it will fall into.

These categories are:

1.  Renewal – show gets renewed

2.  13+ – the show gets thirteen or more episodes, but not renewed

3.  12- – the show is cancelled before 13)

ABC next.  The network sits pretty and in the middle of the pack, and has five new shows on offer this fall.

666 Park Avenue – 9/30 

An evil apartment building.  Yes, that is what the show seems to be about.  Already, the season grows less exciting.  Lost veteran Terry O’Quinn (John Locke) portrays the evil owner of the building, married to Vanessa Williams.  The series premise is set when a couple, not  presumably knowing the evil nature of this building, moves in and takes over roles as co-managers of the building.  The building is filled with a bunch of supernatural shit, and it’s goal is probably to be something like Lost meets Revenge (high class trashy soapy fun of Revenge with the supernatural aspects of Lost).

Verdict:  13- Revenge against some odds worked both critically and commercially, but I’m taking the under on lightning striking twice.  I have no idea what to expect in terms of the quality of this program, but but I don’t have a lot of faith; while hardly a crazy obvious cancellation (where are you, Allen Gregory?) some shows have got to go.

Last Resort – 9/27

The Shield’s Shawn Ryan (yes, I know I need to go back and watch The Shield – it and Dr. Who are my top 2 long term big TV projects that hopefully will happen one day) brings us this kind of cool set up about a US Navy submarine which gets an order to set off a nuclear bomb, and defies it, setting up at an island until they can figure out how to get back home without being considered traitors.  I’m calling this Crimson Tide meets Lost (yes, nearly every new ABC hour long program can be described as something meets Lost).  It starts the estimable Andre Braugher of Homicide and Men of a Certain Age and Scott Speedman of many Underworld films as the top two in command of the sub.

Verdict:  14+  I almost put renewal.  I really wanted to, but  these high concept shows have so much going against them that lower their chances of success.  Without quickly picking up both a huge amount of critical buzz (which is enough to initially give concepts juice on premium cable, but not so much on networks) and a minimum of commercial interest, grand high concept serial series (which I think this is?) have a difficult go of it (Lonestar, anybody).  I’m only picking 14+ over 13- now because of the Shawn Ryan name.  I hope it will be good though.

The Neighbors – 9/26

Classic that-guy (and Zeljko Ivanek Hall of Fame member) Lenny Venito and ‘80s semi-brat pack actress Jami Gertz are a couple who move into a New Jersey housing complex, and find out their neighbors are aliens who name themselves after American sports legends and have weird Conehead-like alien tendencies.  I’m honestly not sure what to think; it sounds ridiculous and cartoonish, but there’s a number of different tones the show could be going for here; out and out silly, corny, absurdist, cheeky and over the top.   It’s easy to lean towards this show being bad, but it’s hard to say for sure.

Verdict:  14+  I have no fucking clue.  This could be a classic 13-, it’s honestly one of the more obviously 13- sounding shows on this list.  However, I’ve briefly come across articles that the show is better than I expected it to be, and there’s this off and unlikely chance it could be a weird quirky success.  I’d still bet against it, but compromising here.

Nashville – 10/10

One of the shows I’m most excited about, it sounds like Country Strong the show (actually that’s not the comparison I should be making right after saying I’m excited about the show) on the surface, about a middle aged female country superstar (played by the great Tammy Taylor FNL actress Connie Britton) and an up and comer who wants the spotlight on her, played by Heroes’ Hayden Panettiere.  Plus, there’s I don’t know, a bunch of country music?  I don’t know what the natural arc of this show is, and maybe that’s a bad thing, but also maybe that’s why it’s interesting.

Verdict:  Renewal – This and Last Resort were probably the two shows that sounded most promising to me from the basic descriptions.  Last Resort, well, I’m a sucker for at least being interested in all shows like that, but few are better than mediocre, and most fail.  Nashville, however doesn’t fit that pattern.  I don’t care all that much about country music, so it’s not that angle, and I’m not sure what my good reason for interest aside the fact that it stars Connie Britton and it sounds, well, different.  I think we’ll know within a few episodes whether this show is sticking around.

Malibu Country – 11/2

Reba is back, baby.  You knew TV couldn’t be without her for too long.  Reba, a Nashville resident, naturally, and playing a character named Reba, finds her husband cheating and moves from Nashville to, you guessed it, Malibu, California.  Her mom is played by Lily Tomlin, which tells you how old Lily Tomlin is.  Oh, shocker, Reba plays a one-time country music singer, who is now trying to reignite her career.

Verdict:  13- This looks like the type of predictable utterly forgettable sitcom Then again, Reba ran for six seasons (wow, is the right answer), so who am I to say it can’t happen again.  I’ll say it though.  It’s probably not going to happen again.  This would be high up for me on the most likely 13 or less choices this year, though the relative success of Last Man Standing proves that I know nothing.