September 14, 2007

TV: Nashville (Fox, Friday 9/8)

Fox's Nashville is a reality soap, in the mold of MTV's Laguna Beach, about a group of pretty young wannabes trying to make it in the country music biz. (And I do mean pretty -- these are very attractive people.)

There are five principal characters, and four of them are singers. Mika's the small-town girl from Kentucky, new in town. Rachel's been struggling for awhile, but can't get anyone to take her seriously; they think she's just trying to cash in on the family name (her father is NFL legend Terry Bradshaw). Matt had a minor hit a few years back -- big enough that he got to sing it at the Grand Ole Opry -- but couldn't follow up, and is back to working the Nashville bar circuit. Chuck is on the verge of getting a major-label record contract, if the execs like what they hear at his upcoming showcase concert.

And then there's Clint. He's not a musician, but he uses his family's money to throw ritzy parties and hang around the edges of the industry, mostly as a way to meet hot chicks, all of whom he treats like crap. As the series opens, Rachel has just broken up with her boyfriend back home to be with Clint, only to have him flirt with every girl in the room at one of his parties. Later, he meets Mika and zeroes in on her as well; clearly, a Rachel-Clint-Mika triangle is going to be part of the mix.

On the plus side, the singers are talented (though lord knows you can't throw a stick in Nashville without hitting a talented singer who never made it big) and they're pleasant to look at. (If anyone's trying to decide what to get me for Christmas, I'd be happy to find Matt under my tree.)

But so many of the scenes feel staged. It's not that anything's been scripted, I don't think, but there are definitely conversations where you can sense that a director has said to them, "why don't you two have this conversation for us?" And in those scenes, they're all trying so damn hard to pretend that they're being natural and spontaneous (but being sure to hit the dramatic points that need to be hit in this conversation) that the dialogue winds up sounding like nothing anyone would ever actually say.

I've got nothing against soap opera, but if Fox wants to give us one, I'd prefer that they go to the bother and expense of hiring actors and writers, because real people just aren't that interesting.

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