Sunday, October 14, 2012

Connie Britton Right At Home On Nashville, Y'all

ABC Television
Wednesday Nights 10 PM
With Connie Britton, Hayden Panettiere,
Powers Boothe,  Eric Close
Created and Written by Callie Khouri
Five Scoops of Bosco

Reviewed by Allen Bacon, The Daily Bosco

After spending a lot of time around the city of Nashville, being a Country Music Fan and being a big admirer of Connie Britton's work on Friday Night Lights, there were a lot of questions I had before I watched the premiere of ABC's Nashville.

Such as, was Nashville going to be merely a prime time soap opera like Dallas or Dynasty where the cities are just the backdrop for all kind of nastiness?

Or, how in the world does Connie Britton match the performance as Tami Taylor on FNL which garnered critical acclaim and an Emmy?

Or, is this new show going to be a one dimensional drama focusing just on the Country Music aspect of Music City USA?

I was pleasantly surprised after screening the Pilot Episode on all three counts.  

This is a show I will be watching a lot this season.

The very first thing I was impressed with was how Country Music is used as the soundtrack in the show.  Much like the show, Memphis Beat that takes place in that other Tennessee city down the road and musical light years from Nashville, the music is wonderfully mixed into the story lines without becoming too overbearing.

From the get-go we are ushered on stage at the Grand Ole Opery and like a Country Music version of Dicken's A Christmas Carol we are introduced almost simultaneously to the Ghosts of Country Music Past, Present, and Future.

The Present is shown by Britton's character who plays a legendary country music superstar in the mold of a Shania Twain or Reba McIntyre who feels her stardom beginning to fade. 

The Future is played out by two sets of characters.  One is played by Hayden Panettiere who is the rising young star like Taylor Swift...but a lot more naughtier than Swift.  The show also shows the up and coming stars working and honing their crafts in places like the Bluebird Cafe and also gives a tip to the Country-Alt movement as well.

The Past?  

There is a nifty scene in the Pilot where Britton sits in on a radio show in a legendary Nashville radio station with an aging Country DJ and they spin her favorite records from the likes of Conway Twitty and Patsy Cline.  It's a tip of the country hat to an era gone by where that break often came when a DJ would play your song on the radio.

Britton doesn't totally abandon her Tami Taylor persona here.  The Southern drawl and demeanor is still there but with a slight edge which is to be expected by somebody that has been in the entertainment business for so long.  

There is a scene where she meets Panettiere's character for the first time.  Panettiere, with a small little dress on that is a wardrobe malfunction waiting to happen is met with "You better make sure your girls are tucked in nice and tight" by Britton.  

Something Tami Taylor might say.

I know Panettiere is going to do great in her role based on her performance in Heroes, but she is already showing she can stretch her character beyond one dimension here by showing her vulnerability.

Eric Close as the husband of Rayna James would probably not have been my first choice in that role but then he quickly shows that he can act beyond his role on Without A Trace and I warmed up to his performance in a hurry.

In the pilot we are taken quickly through the scope of the show.  This is not going to be just about country music.  No more than Friday Night Lights was just about football.

There are going to be stories about Southern Politics and Power Plays that will be fun, entertaining and fascinating in weeks to come.  

With a wonderful writer and creative person like Callie Khouri (Thelma and Louise, Divine Secrets of the Ya-Ya Sisterhood) at the helm,  this show will probably not be slipping into a one dimensional prime time soap opera.

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