Nashville Series Premiere Review: Welcome to Music City

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With a quickly established set of complicated characters, engaging original music built within this authentic setting and endless possibilities for intriguing stories down the road, Nashville is the best new show of 2012.

No matter what stories you tell, if you don't have truly interesting characters, nobody is going to care. Fortunately, Nashville has created a number of them in just the one hour of its pilot.

Connie Britton as Rayna

Between Charles Esten as songwriting legend Deacon Claybourne, Eric Close as mayoral candidate Teddy Conrad and Clare Bowen as poet-turned-songstress Scarlett O'Connor, the supporting cast will be fun to watch develop as the first season moves forward.

Having said that, it's still the two leading ladies who are going to carry much of the burden of the series. Thankfully, both Connie Britton and Hayden Panettiere seem up to the challenge as fading country star Rayna Jaymes and up-and-comer Juliette Barnes, respectively.

It would be easy to pigeonhole both characters into their own well-known archetypes, but both Rayna and Juliette have already been portrayed with such complexities that it's hard not to see them as real human beings; human beings we would love to see more of.

Britton, who impressed so many for five years as Tami Taylor on Friday Night Lights, may have actually found a role similarly sincere in Jaymes. Rayna is a famous country star, sure, but that doesn't make life simple. Between her controlling father, quasi-doubts about her marriage and the realization that her star isn't so bright anymore, it's going to be exciting to watch her deal with the ups and downs of life in the near future.

Barnes, meanwhile, seems to be as messed up as you might assume a world famous young girl with a junky for a mother might be. Panettiere plays the role with attitude, but it's clear that the girl is masking a lot of problems. Whether it be her need to drown her sorrows in sex, or her untamed desire to be the best, Juliette is a new twist on the instant star character we've seen time and time again.

Some have compared Rayna to Reba, and Juliette to Taylor Swift, but those are extremely lazy comparisons. I get that many call Swift out for not having the best singing voice, which is something she and Juliette have in common (made clear by that auto-tune crack in the recording studio).

If you're a fan of Swift, or a big country music fan, you saw the similarities between today's young star of country and Deacon's niece Scarlett. Like Scarlett, Taylor had a background in poetry before becoming a superstar. Where did Taylor catch the eye of future Big Machine Records executive Scott Borchetta? The Bluebird Cafe, which is exactly where the legend Watty White discovers Scarlett at the end of this series premiere.

The authenticity that Nashville has created by shooting the series in Nashville, and paying homage to some of its legendary locales, makes everything feel that much more genuine. Personally, I left Nashville in July after two years in the wonderful city, and this pilot excited me just from some of the scenic shots and quick mentions.

From the scenes at the aforementioned Bluebird Cafe, Rayna and Deacon's walk on the Shelby Street Bridge over the Cumberland River, the Loveless Cafe t-shirt donned by Connie Britton at bedtime, and the mention of getting a drink at Tootsies, they didn't cut too many Nashvillian corners. That is, except for the fact that there is no way on earth that a star like Rayna James would be getting a casual drink at the tourist laden Tootsies.

Where you would see stars like Rayna and Juliette is performing at the Grand Ole Opry, a tradition unparalleled in the country music world. Watching each of them singing on that stage, and all of the music during the episode for that matter, was nothing but fun for any country music fan. The best of all was probably Clare Bowen and Sam Palladio covering The Civil Wars' "If I Didn't Know Better."

We previewed it last week, and it was a haunting performance, but I'm more excited about what it might bring to the future of this show. What is Watty's idea? Why did Rayna specifically have to hear that performance? Are they going to pair Rayna with Scarlett to fight against the need to tour with Juliette?

There seem to be a lot of possibilities moving forward, not just with the music business, but in all of the relationships. Nashville has created a large twisted web of individuals early in its existence that may bring forth entertaining moments for years to come.

What did you think of the premiere of Nashville? Vote in the poll below, and tell us what you loved most about the episode in the comments...


Editor Rating: 5.0 / 5.0
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User Rating:

Rating: 4.2 / 5.0 (156 Votes)

Dan Forcella is a TV Fanatic Staff Writer. Follow him on Twitter.


I could complain about the too many plot lines but the bottom line is I watched it in its entirety and wished it kept going. I don't care for country music(heard one song you've heard them all)but the one thing I do care about is likable characters, none of which appeared to win me over in last night's debut. Maybe I can get off hating them all!


I enjoyed it a lot. Briton is sexy and brilliant. I watched Heroes and am frankly quite impressed with Hayden in this role. She comes off as a devious whore quite effectively. I'm going to stick with this show and see how it goes. Powers Booth, as usual, plays the ultimate creepy villian. Is it me though or is the man dangerously skinny?? Great pilot, I dont mind the Dallas vibe at all, theres always room for more than one nighttime soap, umm I mean drama.


It's a bit confusing to start with a lot of actors and trying to figure out who's with who and a two hour show might have been better. And then the guy running for Mayor don't Know where that going. I will have to see a few more shows to understand where they are going and get to know the actors and what their up to. Look like it could be interesting but the Jury is still out!!
People said it looks like Dallas never liked that show didn't watch it.


You can't judge a series by its pilot.... The pilot is made to sell the show to the networks... What was the best pilot from last season..... Oh Yeh.. Pan Am which quickly died.. Networks should give a show a bit to find its way.. The October timeframe is tough since some of the middle America audience that likes Country may have been following baseball or watching CSI... Let's see how many recorded and will watch later like I did... Frankly... just like politically polling, TV polling which is essentially what ratings are with small samples, is a flawed system since so many in the "Demo" consume in so many ways that are tough to measure.. I think the best ratings are the older-skewed that watch stuff as it happens and consume advertising..


"If I Didn't Know Better" was definitely the highlight of the show musically and it seems clear that Hayden's character is a fully realized mess which should translate as FUN, but is this really "Dallas" in Nashville or "Smash" at the Grand Ole Opry? Only time will tell but I'm good for a couple more episodes to see if and where anything goes, plus the series HAS to be musically sound and fresh to make it a must see and a must listen for that matter. Powers Boothe has always been creepy, especially after his turn as "Jim Jones," so maybe he will be Nashville's JR Ewing, but make no mistake-this show has nothing to do with the GREAT Reba McEntire OR Taylor Swift, fan or not, so it will need to make it on it's own! There was a lot of information in this first episode but I'm game, especially if we can have a few more moments as compelling as the duet sung by Claire Bowen and Sam Palladio! Did you hear that tenor/falsetto voice of his? WOW! And Claire had plenty of style all her own as the perfect complement. If I didn't know better, I'd thing that THEY were the stars of Nashville?


I WANTED to love it, being a huge fan of Friday Night Lights, didn't watch Heros so Connie B was my main reason for watching, but sadly it was just ok for me. It is too bad this is not a Jason Katims show (Boston Public, FNL, Parenthood) he really knows how to correctly pace things and let the characters develop. Like some other reviews I felt there was just much going on. I like a fast paced show, but this was really too much of everything too fast. There were like 50 plot lines and they each felt like they got 1 min each. I know pilots are often shot with the TV execs in mind to get them to green light a project, so here's hoping the 2nd eps will give us some more time with each story arc, otherwise I am not sure this one will stick for me


This series is a Dallas in Nashville. Look out for Lamar (JR) think he will do some damage.

Sarah silva

The best part was when Claire Bowen and Sam Palladio were singing.
This was one of the first shows I added to my fall tv list when I read about it months ago and I really wanted to love it, but I just liked it. The singing was fantastic and the story line was good. I will tune in again and see where it goes. I watched this show live and recorded Chicago Fire and will watch that and see which one I want to watch live.


I am interested in how they will move this along. There seemed to be alot thrown at the wall especially with Hayden's character in bed with one/going after Deacon and the way she was with the head honcho and for me she did not carry it that well. An awful lot thrown into one episode and I did not geel sorry for her having a poor excuse for a Mom/she is too ugly behind and for me not rootable at all and one like that should have some vulnerability. Now CB and the rest I truly liked/I am guessing there was and continues to be love for CB's character from Deacon and the husband dynamic is also intriguing. I will tune in again but not sure how long they will pull me in.


LOVED the show as I love country music. I do agree, the guys looked alike & it was a bit "Dallas" with Powers Booth being the big bad daddy. The music industry that they are portrayinig is true to life. Rayna is the established artist falling out of favor of Juliette. As much as I love this music, unfortunately, Music City USA (Nashville) & the record heads/labels have never been able to balance the two out ... my opinion is that they don't want to. It's like Vince Gills sings WHO will be the "Next Big Thing" - that song was out about 10 years ago.

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