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“Nashville” Is Almost as Good As Its Promos

I like some country music and even have WYRK as one of my favorite channels in my car.

I like politics. (But you know that)

I love Connie Britton.

Connie Britton” Can’t Lose With Her Starring

Those are three of the reasons I am singing the praises of “Nashville,” the new ABC series that premieres at 10 tonight on Channel 7. I don’t love it as much as many of the critics that are highlighted in ABC’s promo campaign that calls it the No. 1 program of the fall.

It isn’t quite “Smash” to me. In a way, “Nashville” just uses some elements of the NBC musical soap series about the politics of Broadway in the city and adds to them in a country setting. 

There are too many clichés in the soapy pilot of “Nashville” for me to love it. But Britton’s performance as an aging country star who has to consider being the opening act for a sexy, young wannabe who has Autotune to thank for her popularity easily sells the show.

I’ve been a big fan of Britton for a long time, most recently for her performance as the almost perfect wife in my favorite series of a few years ago — NBC’s “Friday Night Lights.”

If you’re not familiar with that low-rated series about how high school football is life in Texas, you should know that Mitt Romney has been recently spouting the show’s slogan “clear eyes, full heart, can’t lose” as he attempts to reinvent himself.

In “Nashville,” music is life. And with Britton on board, just about any show can’t lose. She uses some of the same facial and vocal mannerisms she used on “FNL,” but her sympathetic character is far from the perfect wife.

In tonight’s fast-moving and delicious pilot, country star Rayna Jaymes (Britton) is dealing with the manipulations of the sexy, flirtatious No. 1 crossover artist Juliette Barnes (Hayden Panettiere of “Heroes”); Rayna’s powerful, rich, political father Lamar Wyatt (Powers Boothe, who has the best voice in the cast); and her weasel husband Teddy Conrad (Eric Close of “Without a Trace”).

How much does Rayna have to overcome? Her own little elementary school girls are Juliette fans. Juliette isn’t even the best young singer in the show. Scarlett O’Connor (Clare Bowen) is the Taylor Swift character, a waitress who is a sweet young poet and reluctant singer who is everything Juliette isn’t – smart, talented and sweet.

The pretty-looking cast also includes Charles Esten as Rayna’s lead guitarist Deacon Claybourne, whose complicated relationship with the star is worthy of a country song.

“Nashville” looks beautiful and the dialogue is so snappy at times that it more than compensates for all the clichés about power, stardom, politics and the triumph of style over substance in all things entertainment — especially music.

And did I mention it has Connie Britton, who The New York Times recently noted went to Dartmouth with Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand?

The only downside is that Britton’s professionalism often overwhelms Panettiere, a young actress who has the tendency to overact in a role that also gives her some vulnerable moments dealing with mommy issues.

But like her character, Hayden will wow young viewers. And that, after all, is what popular entertainment is all about these days.

All in all, the soapy “Nashville” has several intriguing story lines and can’t lose in a city like Buffalo that loves its country music.

Rating: 3 and a half stars out of 4

“Nashville” competes with NBC’s “ER” and “Third Watch” wannabe “Chicago Fire” at 10 tonight. This Dick Wolf production would have made many Top 10 critics’ lists – about 15-20 years ago when the idea of ordinary heroes facing personal obstacles and saving lives looked original.

“Chicago Fire” is so old and moldy that it could go directly to WBBZ, the local station that carries classic TV shows of bygone eras.

Jesse Spencer: He Can’t Save “Chicago”

Jesse Spencer (“House”) stars as Matthew Casey, a firefighter who is rivals with a buff Rescue Squad guy, Kelly (Taylor Kinney), who blames him for the death of a firefighter.

The cast includes Eamonn Walker (“Oz”) as the fire chief and David Eigenberg (“Sex and the City”) as a firefighter fighting finances that have him in the red.

Monica Raymund plays a paramedic, Gabriela Dawson, who can face down guy-toting criminals when she isn’t saving children’s lives.

It is easy to see just about everything coming, except in some smoky scenes when it is hard to tell who is saving who.

Though “Chicago Fire” has some moving moments near the end, they don’t compensate for the unintentionally funny scenes dealing with failed romances and foreclosures.

Save yourself an hour of your life, avoid “Chicago” and head to “Nashville.”

Rating: 1 and a half stars   

pergament@msn.com

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4 responses to "“Nashville” Is Almost as Good As Its Promos"

  1. “Scarlett O’Connor (Clare Bowen) is the Taylor Swift character, a waitress who is a sweet young poet and reluctant singer who is everything Juliette isn’t – smart, talented and sweet.”

    Apparently you don’t know much about Taylor Swift. She has far more in common with the Auto-Tuned, overhyped, self-righteous pop/country superstar than the “sweet young poet.” Sure, she can write her own songs, but the similarities end there.

  2. Mark Scott says:

    Well, any show that ends with Bruce’s “Blood Brothers” — as Chicago Fire did — can’t be all bad.

  3. Carl says:

    As far as Chicago Fire goes…Emergency! did all that CF does, and did it BETTER. MUCH better.

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