Nashville – Pilot

by Alan Rapp on October 13, 2012

in Television Reviews 

  • Title: Nashville – Pilot
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Providing us a set-up not all that dissimilar to Country Strong (minus the trip to rehab and with a hearty extra helping of soap opera suds), the “Pilot” episode of Nashville stars Connie Britton as fading country music legend Rayna Jaymes who is offered an ultimatum by her record label. If she wants their continued support of her flagging album they want Rayna to agree to share the spotlight with popular but bitchy teen sensation Juliette Barnes (Hayden Panettiere) by opening for Barnes on a combined tour.

Britton does much of the heavy lifting in the first episode as her life takes a little longer to set-up. Her home life includes a stressful marriage with a loving husband (Eric Close) who knows he wasn’t her first choice and two preteen daughters (Lennon Stella, Maisy Stella). She also has unresolved issues with her estranged father (Powers Boothe), a notorious dirty businessman who uses people for his own purposes, and her sister (Judith Hoag) who has devoted her life to their father.

Panettiere gets stuck here with the more one-note role of the conniving slut seducing Reyna’s friends including her record producer (Burgess Jenkins) and band leader and former flame (Charles Esten). We get a little insight into her troubled childhood by mentions of her druggie mother (Sylvia Jefferies) who is continually looking for a hand-out, and flashes of her honest interest in the music business, but for the most part Juliette is entirely out for herself and her own instant gratification.

The “Pilot” episode also introduces a glut of supporting characters including waitress poet Scarlett (Clare Bowen), her boyfriend (Jonathan Jackson) and the man who wishes he was her boyfriend (Sam Palladio) and who brings out the young woman’s music in a way that might turn them both into stars. We also see mayoral candidate Cameron Carlisle (Robert Wisdom) who Reyna’s father plans to destroy by running his daughter’s husband against him in the upcoming election.

The show’s first episode feels unfocused and far too rough around the edges. For a show about country music the show hedges its bets by giving us a woman on the downside of her career with a lackluster album and a young teen star who even her studio technicians joke about needing to auto-tune. Although this certainly explains the lack of great music on the show, you would hope the music the show does use would be more memorable. Of all the performances only Bowen’s, which closes the show’s first episode, really stands out.

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