Keep Your Eye On … ABC’s ‘Nashville’
By Rachel Bennett
Television Editor & Columnist
Every Monday, Rachel will pick a TV show you need to watch out for that week and/or in the near future.
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The story of country star Rayna Jaymes (Connie Britton) and her young competitor Juliette Barnes (Hayden Panettiere) is a simple one, but at the same time, it’s not so simple. Backstabbing, cheating, undermining and more abound in this series, proving that it’s not easy to reach the top — and it’s even harder to stay there.
Its initial strength aside, though, the stories stalled as the show crawled toward its winter finale, with love triangles seemingly going nowhere and time spent on characters about whom viewers could care less (As much as Eric Close tries, Teddy is incredibly boring).
Luckily, Nashville is picking up the pace and developing its players a little more, and I increasingly look forward to it week after week. Wednesday’s episode, “Dear Brother,” looks like another fun ride, so here’s why you should keep an eye on Nashville:
• The music: Musicals aren’t for everyone, and I consider myself in that camp. But the music in Nashville never feels out of place, so you don’t have to worry about characters bursting out into cheesy song and dance. Instead, it’s organic and an essential part of the program’s fabric, with most songs revealing more about each character than the dialogue does. It doesn’t hurt that Nashville’s executive music producer is Academy Award and Grammy winner T Bone Burnett, whose other screen credits include Crazy Heart, O Brother, Where Art Thou? and The Hunger Games. So even if you’re not a fan of country music, you may want to give it another chance.
• Rayna and Deacon: Slow-burn romances are tricky to pull off, as viewers get restless and tend to tune out before a couple finally gets together. Formers lovers Rayna and Deacon (Charles Esten) are possibly the biggest teases of the season, constantly discussing their relationship without actually taking the next step. Well, Deacon finally stopped thinking about doing something and just did it by kissing Rayna a few weeks ago. Too bad it happened right before her husband, Teddy, shocked her by asking for a divorce, but it’s certainly making this season a lot more interesting.
• Hayden Panettiere’s performance: Before Nashville, I was not that big of a Panettiere fan. She was fine on NBC’s Heroes, but she never really stood out to me as a performer. When I first watched Nashville, I did so for Britton, who earned my undying devotion on NBC/DirecTV’s Friday Night Lights. However, even though I came for Britton, I’m staying for Panettiere. Juliette is a by-the-books unlikable character: selfish, immature, vicious and insecure. Yet Panettiere has made her someone for whom to root, and it’s her best work to date. I can’t wait to see how much she will continue to evolve with her character — so far, it’s been a joy to watch.
• It’s the best new series of the season: Although the year is not yet over, I’m ready to declare Nashville the best new offering of the 2012-2013 season. Fox’s The Following is a close second, but it’s still too new to tell how it will fare in the long-run. Nashville has already established itself and is the strongest rookie in a weak bunch, as it does a decent job of balancing several stories and sticking to its vision. Will it win any Emmys or Golden Globes? Probably not, but that doesn’t mean it’s not entertaining. With a season two renewal on the horizon, let’s hope more people catch on to the soap and it continues to improve its storytelling — that would be music to my ears.
• If this promo is any indication, viewers are definitely in store for more soapy drama this week.
When to Watch
• Nashville airs Wednesdays at 10 p.m. EST/PST.
Will you be watching Nashville this Wednesday? Let me know!
Tags: ABC, Charles Esten, Connie Britton, Crazy Heart, DirecTV, Eric Close, Fox, Friday Night Lights, Hayden Panettiere, Heroes, Juliette Barnes, Nashville, NBC, O Brother Where Art Thou?, T Bone Burnett, The Academy Awards, The Following, The Grammys, The Hunger Games