the pilot project: “nashville”
(The Pilot Project, in which the Tivli blogger uses words and fake math to review new shows.)
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I love TV pilots. I really do. They are a completely unique entertainment experience. Each show starts with the televisual equivalent of a blank page, and we get to watch them frantically use their 22 or 43 minutes to fill up that page with a complete world that we’ll want to revisit next week.
So… is Nashville worth a return trip? Let’s find out! *throws cowboy hat*
Before we begin, there’s something you should know about ol’ Nash. It literally introduces you to EVERY PERSON WHO LIVES IN NASHVILLE (and reveals shocking secrets about at least half of them). Seriously, I have never met so many important and semi-important recurring characters in so short a time. Below you will find a complete list, graded with Tivli’s patented Fake TV Math.
Character guide after the jump (also pilot spoilers)!
The show does something oddly impressive - it gives the impression of crazy complexity while at its core remaining something that feels very simple. Each individual piece is clearly defined enough that I could follow it all, even when I stopped paying attention during the boring political scenes (so boring, you guys, even with Rayna’s creepy sister).
- Rayna James - Rating: 9.5
Connie Britton is always awesome. Rayna James is a modern country queen whose star power is fading in the modern crossover market. She’s strong in a quiet way with a potentially damaging stubborn streak, incredibly likeable with implications of a messy past. I was rooting for her from minute 1. She loses a couple points for being a terrible lip-syncer.
- Juliette Barnes - Rating: 10
“Evil Taylor Swift” is just a fantastic character idea, and her songs are just as generically catchy (I would buy “Boys and Buses”). There’s something very beleivable about the character, even though she’s obviously over-the-top in a lot of ways. Rayna’s young rival already has two affairs going, a drug-addicted mother, a secretly deep musical side… perfect for this kind of “Dallas + music industry” drama.
- Deacon Claybourne - Rating: 8
Loses points for his absolutely terrible romantic instincts and for having much more backstory than personality in the script. Gains a million points for being a guy who used to be on Whose Line is it Anyway. I have a feeling he’ll become more interesting (and more messed up) as the season continues. Beautiful voice.
- Teddy Conrad - Rating: 5
Rayna’s horrible, easily manipulated husband. He’s running for mayor now because Rayna’s evil dad wants him to. “I know you settled for me” is just a gross thing to say.
- Scarlett O’Connor - Rating: 7
Sweet, big-eyed dreamer. Deacon’s niece. Writes the amazing “If I Didn’t Know Better” song with Gunnar. Sometimes gets a bad case of “sexy pouty mouth” when she sings that distorts her incredibly lovely voice.
- Avery Barkley - Rating: 6
Scarlett’s apparently crappy boyfriend. It’s pretty obvious he’s going to hook up with Juliette soon.
- Gunnar Scott - Rating: 7
The too-good-to-be-true young musician who duets with Scarlett on her gorgeous poem song. The character is kind of a basic “good guy who helps the girl gain enough confidence to leave her crappy boyfriend” right now, but I like his easy confidence and that song was SO GOOD. His voice woke me right up from the mayoral blah blah.
- Coleman Carlisle - Rating: 10
The “good guy” mayoral candidate didn’t get much to do this episode, but he gets a 10 because he’s played by Robert Wisdom, aka Bunny from The Wire and Uriel from Supernatural. Robert always gets a 10.
- Lamar Wyatt - Rating: 2
As I’ve already said, I found all the political intrigue stuff crazy boring. The evil businessman who owns half the city… it’s just been done so many times. Nashville’s going to have to work hard so that this plot doesn’t feel like padding.
- Tandy Wyatt - Rating: 5
Rayna’s two-faced sister, who pretends to be on her side but is secretly just as devious as her father. I liked her cold, sociopathic eyes.
- Randy Roberts - Rating: 5
Friend of Rayna. Juliette’s producer and sometimes lover. I can’t tell if he cares about her yet, but I kind of like that uncertainty. If he does, his story could be pretty poignant.
- Watty White - Rating: 7
Kind old radio host, ally of Rayna, seems powerful in the Nashville music scene. I have a feeling he and Rayna are going to start a record label together or soemthing - and that I would be interested in watching.
Resulting Fake TV Math Acerage Rounded Score: 7
Yeah, that’s about right. Very good potential, some great actors, but it won’t necessarily grab you if you’re not already interested in the tone or subject. I’d watch a few more to see if it holds up.