Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Review: 'Nashville' Episode Two

I think Tom Green would have said something like "Her head is on his bum."
After a strong premiere, ABC's Nashville failed to top itself in week two. In a way, it's not unexpected. The show set up so much plot last week, it probably needed a follow up episode devoted to shading in the details of all the characters' stories, but it didn't make for anything terribly exciting.

As the show opens, the audience is dropped into a Juliette Barnes music video shoot in front of the Musica statue at the Demonbreun roundabout here in Nashville. Juliette overhears a production assistant of some sort making a dig about her music and its appeal for teenage girls. She demands he be fired. The war for Deacon rages on as Rayna's people propose that she and Deacon go on tour together booking smaller venues and singing songs from the old days, and Juliette continues her efforts to nab him for her band... or something, by giving him a $50,000 Martin guitar and wooing him in the wilds of (no doubt) rural Williamson County. They start of writing a song together in the back of her truck and wind up not. That's one of the puzzling things about Deacon. His character seems too sharp and world worn to involve himself in this type of mess, but I guess it proves that a dude can't resist a topless blonde. Back in the Bluebird, Rayna's producer Watty offers to produce a demo for Scarlett and Gunnar after last week's duet, but Scarlet is reluctant because perhaps she feels guilty that hipster boyfriend Avery can't make it out of the 5 Spot, and all she had to do to attract some attention was crack open her notebook. Teddy's campaign basically serves an expository function in this episode as both Teddy and Rayna are interviewed for the "vulnerability study" and we learned about Teddy's bad real estate deal and the fluid start and end dates of Rayna's relationships with Deacon and her husband. Fun fact: Deacon had a drug problem.

So as you can see, there were no new twists or plot developments in this episode, which is bad because it allows some of the show's weaker spots to gain visibility. There's a logic gap in Juliette's story, for example, regarding what exactly she wants from Deacon, beyond a guitar player or a way to screw over Rayna. My best guess is that it has to do with her desire to be taken seriously outside of the teenage girl demographic, but we don't really know why she wants that, only that it's an emphasized theme. This frustration over perception leads to two of the night's most cringe-worthy lines. Juliette first tells Deacon, "Don't be fooled by this shiny exterior, there's more than meets the eye," and then later when she shows up unannounced at his house and says, "There's something about you that makes me want to grow up." Gross.

The other weak spot is the Bluebird triangle. They are so boring, and Scarlett seems to have barely anything more than a vague awareness that Gunnar exists, so this potential romantic cataclysm is not even that fun to watch.

To the show's credit, Nashville is developing a knack for killer final performances. After a scuffle between Rayna and Deacon earlier in the show about you can imagine who, Rayna shows up at the Bluebird to watch Deacon sing. Also present is Juliette. So when Deacon intros a talented friend who is  going to come up and sing with him, nothing is quite as sweet as Juliette getting ready to stand up and Deacon saying "Rayna Jaymes." The pair sing one of their old songs. If you're wondering why Rayna and Teddy have no chemistry, it's because it's all with Deacon. They sing together and inevitably dredge up old feelings, but it's a great moment. The lines on their faces match each other and you lament they ever split.

Overall, a lackluster showing this week. Hopefully now that all the ground work has been laid, we can get on to some actual plot. Sitting tight for now, folks.

Stray observations: 

+ Avery and Scarlett's house looks like it belongs to a nice, affluent middle aged couple living in the Belmont/Woodmont area. In other words, out of their price or taste range.

+ A shot of Teddy burning some papers and drinking is not enough intrigue to keep people watching.

+ Avery is an awful hipster.

+ The Musica statue is a terrible place to shoot a music video unless GIANT frolicking naked people are your thing.

+ Using songs actually written by Nashville songwriters is great. This week, check out Trent Dabbs and Kacey Musgraves who penned tonight's "Undermine."

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