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Featured TV on DVD Review: Nashville: Season One

October 3rd, 2013

Nashville: Season One - Buy from Amazon

Nashville started last season and for most of the year it was "on the bubble" as far as ratings went. I was always fairly sure the show would be renewed, because it was not only selling ad time for the network, but also selling CD soundtrack. Has it done enough to warrant more people checking out the second season?

The Show

Before we get into the review, this show is a soap opera. There's no way to describe the plot of any episode beyond the few two or three without getting into some spoilers. Fortunately, just going through the characters and a bit of their interpersonal relationships will take ten times longer than most reviews are.

Nashville focuses on the music industry with Rayna Jaymes, a titan of the country music scene. She's been widely successful, but her husband, Teddy Conrad, had a land development deal that failed leaving the family not broke, but short on cash. Instead of selling their house, Rayna has to go on tour again, leaving her two girls, Maddie and Daphne (Lennon Stella and Maisy Stella) with their father in the meantime. However, this plan doesn't work as well as she had hoped, because the taste in country music has changed. Her label wants changes that she's not happy with.

Specifically, Juliette Barnes is the new taste in music and the rising star . Juliette is young, very popular, but troubled. Her mother, Jolene, is an addict, and Juliette wants nothing to do with her. Jolene claims she's cleaned up her act, but Juliette doesn't believe her. Juliette also has other problems, namely an image problem. She's incredibly bossy with her manager, Bucky Dawes, and pretty much anyone else under her. Her public image takes a number of hits in the season, while the record label wants to help her improve her image, by making her play with Rayna. Neither one is happy with this. One of the ways Juliette tries to get at Rayna is by poaching Deacon Claybourne, Rayna's longtime guitarist and friend.

Rayna also has to deal with a difficult family life. Her father, Lamar Wyatt, is a rich and powerful business man in the Nashville area, but he has always been a terrible father to Rayna. Her mother died when Rayna was only 12 and their marriage wasn't great to begin with. (She had an affair.) Lamar sees a lot of his wife in Rayna, and he doesn't like it. He always liked his other daughter, Tandy, more. Additionally, he wants more than money; he wants power. He sees a way to get power is by encouraging Teddy to run for Mayor, which puts him directly against Coleman Carlisle, who is a longtime friend of Rayna's. This turns out to be a problem, because Teddy had some skeletons buried and the stress of the campaign takes its toil on the marriage.

We also meet a younger generation of country music hopefuls, starting with Scarlett O'Connor, Deacon's niece. She's come from Alabama to Nashville, but she's not particularly interested in being a singer. She's more of a poet, but she's there to help her boyfriend, Avery Barkley, but their relationship hits a snag when she gets a potential big break before he does. Scarlett gets more support from Gunnar Scott, who works at the same country bar as she does. Gunnar's girlfriend, Hailey (Chloe Bennet), also wants to help Scarlett succeed, but there's a conflict between these four people, as romantic entanglements arise.

(On a side note, I really like Clare Bowen's accent and I went online to check if she was really from the south. Turns out she's from the really south, Australia. I also read a lot of people complaining that she didn't sound like she was from Nashville, but her character is actually from Alabama.)

Like I already said, Nashville is a soap opera. It's a soap opera about country music. If you don't like either, you might avoid the show altogether. However, this is actually very compelling drama. A lot of this has to do with the writing, which is top-notch for a network drama. It even picked up a WGA nomination for best new series. The acting is also excellent, as both Connie Britton and Hayden Panettiere earned Golden Globe nominations. There are some plotlines that are a little aggravating. For instance, Juliette Barnes tends to have a lot of moments where it seems like she will have some personal growth, only to slide right back to her old self. Also, the show has one or two or several love triangles, which is a tired plot device.

Overall the good far outweighs the bad and the season ended on a cliffhanger that will certainly leave you itching to see more. (And now that I have finally seen the full season, I can check out my DVR of the first two episodes of season two.)

The Extras

Extras are mostly on the final disc, but there is a six-minute featurette on the first disc about shooting the show in Nashville. Stellas Go On "Tour" is a nine-minute look at Lennon and Maisy's day on set. On the Record has two short featurettes on two of the songs from the show. There are also seven deleted scenes and two minutes of outtakes. That's not a lot of extras, but it is enough to not seem barren.

The Verdict

I am not a fan of soap operas, nor am I a huge fan of country music. The main reason I asked for a screener for this show was because of Lennon Stella and Maisy Stella (they're Canadian and I have a well-known pro-Canada bias). I was hoping Nashville would be an okay drama and the soap opera aspects wouldn't make me hate the show. However, it was a whole lot better than I was expecting it would be. There are not a lot of extras on the DVD, but enough that it is easily worth picking up.

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Filed under: Video Review, David Alford, Powers Boothe, Connie Britton, Charles Esten, Jonathan Jackson, Hayden Panettiere, Robert Wisdom, Judith Hoag, Sylvia Jefferies, Clare Bowen, Eric Close, Sam Palladio