Wednesday, November 14, 2012

10 Reasons Why "Nashville" Rocks (So Far)

1. Connie Britton I'm so glad to see Britton in another leading TV role so soon after Friday Night Lights and her one-season stint on American Horror Story. Her Rayna James, an on-the-verge-of-washed-up country superstar, could be modeled after Faith Hill or Shania Twain, but she basically represents any veteran who has had to undergo reinvention in order to remain relevant and win the youth vote (which makes it a sort of cross between The Artist and All About Eve). Britton is one of those rare performers with a natural acting style that makes you feel like you're watching a rockumentary (Behind the Music?) or someone's home movie.

2. Hayden Panettiere I don't know what it is with rhymes-with-witches on TV lately. I can't get enough of them. Like Madeleine Stowe's Victoria Grayson on Revenge (which could benefit from Nashville's streamlined storytelling), Panettiere's rising American idol Juliette Barnes is usually nasty, rarely nice, always human. Carrie Underwood, Taylor Swift or a total work of fiction?

3. The music Maybe my life-long love affair with country music automatically gives Nashville the edge, but its original songs make Glee sound like an actual high-school musical. The duet between secondary characters Scarlett O'Connor and Gunnar Scott on the Civil Wars' "If I Didn't Know Better" at the end of the pilot was the most smoldering sequence I've seen on television (via my computer screen) in ages, thanks, in part, to Claire Bowen and Sam Palladio's on-screen chemistry. I had the same dropped-jaw awestruck expression as Rayna when the great J.D. Souther (playing a character who might very well be based on himself) called her up so that she could listen in on musical genius in action. 

4. Sam Palladio As Gunnar Scott, the British actor not only offers a passable country-and-western twang, but he's by far the hottest thing I've seen on my computer screen since I swooned over those YouTube clips of Marco Dapper in Eating Out 2: Sloppy Seconds.

5. The words Who would expect anything less than great from Callie Khouri, the woman who won an Oscar for writing Thelma & Louise? I'm convinced that when Rayna said "for God's sakes" near the beginning of the first episode, it must have been an intentional flub, an intricate character detail that serves no purpose other than to make her seem even more real.

6. The insider's view of the music industry I can never get enough of the Machiavellian machinations of record labels. The way Rayna's turned on her for one stupid flop is exactly how it works.

7. Its homage to history Hearing Tammy Wynette's "Stand By Your Man" during a scene in which Rayna was giving a radio interview was hardly a surprise. That song has been everywhere over the years. But when it was followed by "Rose Colored Glasses," a 1978 No. 5 hit by John Conlee, one of real-life Nashville's underrated greats, I nearly fell off the sofa. If Gene Watson gets name-dropped in the future, I'm going to be so hooked.

8. It's addictive. Scratch that, I'm already hooked, and I've only just finished watching the pilot episode.

9. The emphasis is right where it belongs. Unlike Revenge, which still gives me too much Emily VanCamp and too little Madeleine Stowe, even though Stowe is top-billed. I came to Nashville to see Connie Britton, and that's exactly what I'm getting so far.

10. More family dysfunction! What's a daytime or nighttime soap without a whole lot of that? Bring on the bad blood!
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