Showing posts with label connie britton. Show all posts
Showing posts with label connie britton. Show all posts

Saturday, July 28, 2018

Nashville Finale

Yep, I stuck with it.

I almost didn't. The show went off the rails sometime in the middle of the fourth season, and the storyline became more and more implausible. When ABC cancelled the series in 2016, I assumed it was the end, and the "last" episode tied things together nicely. Then CMT announced it would pick the show up, and I had a decision to make. Did I want to continue? CMT's scheduling is messy and hard to disentangle. I'd watched Hulu for free from time to time; now I bit the bullet and purchased a subscription, expressly to watch this show that confounded, perplexed and sometimes bored me. When one has invested four years of their life in characters that now seem like "real" people, it's not easy to just dump them off a cliff. Plus, I'm not a quitter.

I never believed Connie Britton as a country superstar. For one, she is not a good singer. That's no knock; I'm not a good singer, either, but then again, I don't portray one on TV.  Rayna was never, ever my favorite character. 

I started out hating Juliette Barnes, but it's a tribute to Hayden Panetierre's acting chops that Juliette eventually became sympathetic and, in fact, cherished.

Only diehard fans will remember that Avery was a complete and utter jerk in Season One. The supposed breakout characters were Gunnar and Scarlett. My six-season record is intact of hating Scarlett. It's not the Australian actress's fault. The show runners encumbered her with a preposterous, intelligible accent and a neurosis that was not endearing, but rather, grating.

I would be remiss if I failed to mention Deacon (Charles Esten), who was an alcoholic songwriter and a weak would-be singer; and of course, the Stella Sisters. Esten's main claim to fame before Nashville was as a recurring cast member of Drew Carey's improv show. Now he appears on the Opry, because music fans like recognizable faces. When Connie Britton quit the show, Deacon assumed the main character role because Hayden Panetierre was coping with post-partum syndrome and somebody had to be the star.

When Daphne "forgot" that she had a real father and coolly replaced him with Deacon, I began to have my doubts. But I, like Dallas viewers in the seventies, suspended my belief and chilled.

Other characters have come and gone. Will was always gay, but married Aubrey Peeples (not literally), who went on to fall in love with Goldie Hawn's son, who fell to his death off the roof of a skyscraper...which served to advance the Juliette story. I vaguely remember an early episode in which Juliette's mom shot and killed somebody who was a pain in the ass to Juliette, but the sixth season told us that Mom was bad and that's why Juliette joined the Church of Scientology (er, the Church of Coherent Philosophy).

Things keep chugging along in the Nashville universe.

A word about the music, which ostensibly, the entire series was about: No way in any known universe was the music on Nashville "country". That's not a bad thing. Through the years, the show's music directors have included T Bone Burnett and Buddy Miller, who know good music, but don't cleave to the current fad of country-which-is-sort-of-rock-really.  The songs featured on Nashville would never be played on Hot Country Radio. Never. I liked the songs. Some were, in fact, awesome. And Hayden, by the way, if you ever want to forego acting and take up a new pursuit, I'll buy your album (and I never buy albums).

Here is my initial review of Nashville from 2012.

Did I cry when it ended? You bet your cowboy boots I did.

Am I sorry I stuck it out? Nope. Through all the BS and fast-forwarding, Nashville had heart. 

It's important to finish what we start. And sometimes the journey is worth it.

Friday, January 12, 2018

The Downfall of TV's "Nashville"

I viewed the very first episode of Nashville skeptically. I was curious what alternate country music universe the writers would create. I thought the Juliette Barnes character was created to depict a naughty Taylor Swift. Deacon Claybourne was a renowned songwriter -- believable -- but singer/songwriter? Not so much. I know that Charles Esten now regularly appears on the Grand Ole Opry, but I think that's just a pity booking, because he's frankly not a great singer. Funny how an actor who was previously best known for being a sketch player on Whose Line Is It Anyway is suddenly a "famous" country singer. The most preposterous casting was Connie Britton as a Reba-ish country music superstar. Because Connie Britton can't sing, hard as she tried.

However, like all soap operas, Nashville sucked me in. I can't exactly pinpoint why. The show certainly created, then killed off, many characters over the years. It completely misused the late Powers Boothe, who was an extraordinary actor. There were multiple mothers who died, a dad who went to prison, and his little brat daughter who's now decided that Deacon is her "dad". I guess real dad can go to hell. I understand that actors sign short-term contracts and are eventually gone, but don't insult the viewers' intelligence.

Then there is the most annoying character ever created, Scarlett O'Connor. Clare Bowen needs a better voice coach to help her simulate an Alabama accent. I've often had to rewind my DVR recording to try to figure out what Scarlett said, in case it was an important plot point. In the actress's defense, though, she was given a thankless part to play -- a simpering, self-pitying, self-indulgent scold.

I guess when it comes down to it, I stayed because of Juliette and Avery. Expanding Jonathan Jackson's role was a deft move. Man, some of the scenes in which he cried, heartbroken, broke my heart.

The other thing that drew me in was the music. When T Bone Burnett was the musical director, there were some good songs -- not really country -- kind of a T Bone kind of country. When he left the series, he had this to say:

"Some people were making a drama about real musicians' lives, and some were making a soap opera, so there was that confusion,” he told The Hollywood Reporter. “It was a knock-down, bloody, drag-out fight, every episode.”

Reportedly, when Nashville was canceled by ABC and subsequently picked up by CMT, the mandate was to make more room for music. Could have fooled me. The show barely features one verse/chorus of a song now, and frankly, that's a good thing. I fast-forward through the "musical" numbers, because the songs are sucky.

The thing about soap operas is, you hang on and hang on, because you don't want to miss what might happen. I watched Days Of Our Lives and The Young And The Restless for years; and frankly, the story never ends. At some point, however, real life invades and one has to finally give up. I'm guessing Bo and Hope are no longer tooling along on his motorcycle (unless they're part of the local AARP club). Jack Abbott (the real Jack Abbott -- Terry Lester) has sadly passed away.

Nashville will, however, end. So I'm going to bear it out -- this last season, or half-season. The problem with the show is, there are no longer any stakes.

When ABC decided to cancel the show, it created an ending that was satisfying. Then enough people bitched, and CMT picked up the show. So the happy ending was flung aside. Then Rana died. As bad and unconvincing a singer as Connie Britton was, she's a good actress. She did essentially carry the show. CMT thus decided that Rana's eldest daughter would be the new ingenue, and sorry, but Lennon Stella can't pull it off. I understand that the Stella Sisters are good -- as a duo -- but Maisy's character is too busy stabbing her real dad in the back and adopting street urchins, so she's apparently no longer allowed to sing. And Lennon can't carry it off as a solo.

I've only seen the first episode of the sixth season so far. I watch Nashville on Hulu, because I refuse to be a slave to network TV and its interruptions to try to sell me things I don't want, so there is a delay before the next episode is available. All I know right now is, Juliette is falling prey to a guy who is either a stalker Doctor Phil or a Scientology-like self-help cult leader. It could go either way.

And I don't actually care, but I'm going to see it through to the end.

The downfall of Nashville was that it forgot the music.

Surprisingly (or not?) is that Hayden Panetierre is the best country singer the show ever found.


 Connie and Charles could do a good performance, given a good song:

This was probably the song that roped me in:

"Nashville" was supposed to be about country music.

Too bad they forgot.


Friday, May 9, 2014

Nashville ~ On The Record

Here's what I like: Nashville (the TV show) - the music. The soap opera aspect of the show simply frustrates me. If you watch Nashville, you've probably noticed the disconnect. It's as if the writers forgot what they wrote only one episode before.

Take, for example, this week's saga. Deacon sidles up to Teddy at Rayna's concert and asks him to ruminate on his (their) daughter's birth. Now, mind you,only an installment or two before, Deacon had punched Teddy's lights out because Teddy and Deacon's "girlfriend" had engaged in a rendezvous in said girlfriend's SUV. Well, I guess, a few days later, all has been forgiven, because now Teddy is more than happy to wax nostalgic about their (shared) kid's entree into the world.


And everybody? Stop telling me how Deacon and Rayna really "belong together". I don't give a damn. I like the character of Deacon, but I'm sick to death of him latching onto the crumbs that soulless woman sprinkles across every middle-aged male country singer's county line. I'll accept that Connie Britton is a good actress - everybody keeps telling me she is - so all I am left to conclude is that she is supposed to come across as a heartless bitch.

Don't even get me started on Juliette and Avery. He's a decent guy, and she's just ripped his existence to shreds for no logical reason, especially seeing as how she "loves" him.

Scarlett? What can I say? Every viewer hates her - do the writers get that? The writers keep trying to get us to sympathize with her, but they are apparently staring blindly at some shiny object, while we're all left to hurl heavy objects at our TV screen. Scarlett's whiny and a self-imposed victim. Good singer, though.

Sign me up for Team Gunnar. Sure, he hasn't had much of a storyline lately. They all assumed he was too boring, so instead they tried to pump up Will and whatever-his-fake wife's-name-is story. But Gunnar is at least a songwriter and normal.

Nobody puts Gunnar in a corner. We all kinda like the "normal" people.

Which leads me to the original point of this post - THE MUSIC. Did you catch the Ryman episode? The one with the actors actually performing songs from the series?

If you missed it, check out YouTube.

Annoyingly, I've had some of those damn songs stuck in my head for a couple of weeks now - because they're really good songs. That, however, doesn't negate the irritation of having them swirling around in my brain.

So, taking the advice of some "expert", I've decided to banish those earworms by featuring some of those songs here.

And who better to start with than Gunnar?

This, however, is the song that has been bedeviling me. Stupid perfect song. Perfectly written. Perfect chorus, perfect verse, perfect transition. Damn.

I need to rid myself of this song - because it's too damn perfect:

Trust me - just buy this live album. Help me out here. Maybe if you listen to it enough times, I will finally be rid of it.

I can't take much more of this excruciating, sublime madness.

Sunday, October 14, 2012


I generally deplore night-time soaps, which is, face it, what almost all so-called "television dramas" are nowadays.

It's not so-much that the shows are poorly-written and trite (well, that's a big part of it), but I don't like to commit myself to watching every episode.  TV should be fun and relaxing; not something to cross off one's to-do list.

That said, I thought I would give Nashville a whirl.  It got glowing reviews on Entertainment Weekly's site (that political hack-rag), and the show is ostensibly about a topic I am semi-interested in.

I will say that the premiere was compelling.  It kept my interest for the entire hour, unlike other shows I've been sucked into trying, which I ended up deleting from my DVR queue after 10 or 15 minutes of utter boredom.

About the show:  It's patently obvious that Hayden Panettiere's character, Juliette Barnes, is modeled after Taylor Swift; not in the "slut" aspect (hopefully!), but in the auto-tuned crappy pop singer vein.  A running dialogue throughout the episode made clear that Juliette's brand of styrofoam music is leading country down the path to ruin, but hey!  That's where the money is!  So....

Connie Britton's Rana is, I'm assuming, a fine-lined used-to-be flavor of the week Faith Hill.  Because Rana is certainly no Martina or even Reba.  Rana bemoans Juliette's "adolescent crap", as she watches her inappropriately-dressed-for-the-Grand-Ol-Opry performance.  Yet, what did we hear emanating from Rana's tonsils just a few moments before, up on that stage?  Maybe not adolescent, but certainly "crap".  (The musical director, and I'm talking to you, T Bone Burnett, needs to come up with better songs.)

Rana professes to adore Rose Colored Glasses, in a radio interview, and she no doubt does, but the 1990's gestation from whence she launched her career was more about "Breathe" than "Stand By Your Man".

Much of the premiere was devoted to a minor storyline involving Rana's diabolical JR-dad, played by Powers Booth, who I love (see "Hatfields and McCoys"), but who I detest in this incarnation.  It's not Powers' fault that his Lamar is a caricature; that's how the part was written.  But the whole backroom political wheeling and dealing just detracts from what the focus of the show should be - the music industry.

The most preposterous scene in the premier involved Deacon's niece, Scarlett, and her little notebook of poems, which her shy admirer, Gunnar, magically turned into "songs".  He, in fact, exclaimed to her, "These aren't poems!  These are songs!"  Malarkey (as Joe Biden would say).  Trust me, poems are not songs.  First of all, a poem generally does not have a chorus....or a bridge.  But ah, this is really fantasy land, so we'll call them "songs".

Rana's producer, Watty White (ick of a name - Watty?), played by JD Souther, who is no slouch when it comes to music (!) is, to me, the most believable character in the show.  He acts like a real producer would; no over-the-top exclamations; just serious; thoughtful.  Watty is in the Bluebird audience, when (magically!) there is time to kill, since nobody had signed up to perform (okay......come on.....).  Thus, Gunnar coaxes Scarlett to join him up on the stage to perform one of the "song-poems".   Scarlett tells the crowd that she's never sung into a "real microphone" before; yet, she gives lie to that deceit when she immediately transforms into a sultry jazzy Lena Horne before our eyes.  Kudos, though, to Sam Palladio and Clare Bowen for, without a doubt, the best song and best performance of the lot.  I don't know what the name of that song is, but I think I might have to look it up.  And wow, that Sam sure has a big vocal range!  Song isn't country, though, but good is good.  That's all I ask in my music nowadays.

It could be interesting to see where this show goes.  I hope they tone down the evil Daddy stuff, and go with their strengths - commentary on the "business" of country music.

Nashville is far from realistic, but it's TV, after all. 

I give the premiere a solid B.


Oh, here it is!

Written by John Paul White & Arum Rae