Premiered October 10 at 10pm
One of this fall’s most buzzed-about shows is getting a late start, but after this opener, that shouldn’t be a problem. I wasn’t particularly excited about this series since promos didn’t make it look entirely appealing and I’m not a big fan of country music. It turns out that there’s a lot going on this show, and it’s unlike anything else on television right now. Crafting two lead female characters, both equally overconfident and well aware of their talents, who detest each other so much makes for a fabulous dynamic. Suggesting the pairing of the two makes things even more enticing, though it doesn’t look like Rayna and Juliette will necessarily be teaming up right away. Rayna’s drive to continue working despite her husband’s desire to be the breadwinner and being away from her daughters is quite compelling to watch, and Juliette’s family situation is far more miserable. Lamar drafting Teddy to run for mayor complicates things even more in a very engaging way, especially when the new candidate asked that his opponent, a good friend of Rayna’s, not be tarnished in a smear campaign during the course of the election. Connie Britton has done very well for herself in recent years with “Friday Night Lights” and then “American Horror Story,” and this is definitely a role she was born to play. It also seems fitting for former super-powered cheerleader Hayden Panettiere, who is just right to play the seductive, lonely Juliette. I’m especially impressed with Charles Esten, who I remember from his days on “The Office,” as Deacon, who’s sure to come between the two of them, and I enjoy watching Powers Boothe chew scenery as Lamar. Eric Close (“Without a Trace”) and Robert Wisdom (“Prison Break”) both seem well-suited to play friendly opponents in the mayoral race. Nashville is a great setting for the show, and I think it’s going to go far.
How will it work as a series? This is definitely going to be a running narrative, and the format of the show could change every few episodes as both Rayna and Juliette end up on tour, together or apart. Featuring up-and-comers in addition to the two stars as well as the mayoral campaign means that there’s plenty going on all around, so this show will never be short of juicy plotlines.
How long will it last? This is set to be this fall’s big hit, both critically acclaimed and successful with viewers in terms of ratings. The show got off to a great start this past Wednesday night, not too far off from the debut of “Revenge” in the same timeslot last year. Unless viewers shy away from this well-reviewed show, it’s going to be ABC’s number one new series of the season.
Pilot grade: B+