Nashville: The Complete First Season
September 30, 2013
R.J. Cutler, Paul McCrane, Lesli Linka Glatter, Mimi Leder,
Starring: Connie Britton, Hayden Panettiere, Clare Bowen, Eric Close, Charles Esten, Jonathan Jackson, Sam Palladio, Powers Boothe,
Nashville is a television show stacked with pedigree. Created by Callie Khouri (Thelma & Louise), this night-time soap chronicles the turbulent lives of two competing country musicians played by Connie Britton (Friday Night Lights) and Hayden Panettiere (Heroes). The show also takes a look at the music scene in Nashville and in an attempt to portray it with some authenticity; Khouri enlisted her husband T-Bone Burnett to serve as executive music producer and composer. Throw in Powers Boothe as an overbearing patriarch, and you’ve got the makings for a pretty interesting show.
Rayna Jaymes (Britton) is a country superstar whose popularity has waned some. She is currently cash poor thanks to her husband’s (Close) failed financial enterprises. On the flip side, Juliette Barnes (Panettiere) is a rising star challenging Rayna’s spot on the charts and setting her sights on Deacon Claybourne (Esten), Rayna’s lead guitarist and ex-lover. Ticket sales are down and Rayna isn’t pushing as many copies of her albums as she used to, which causes her handlers to recommend that she tour with Juliette, much to her chagrin.
The rest of the season explores the ramifications of Rayna’s decision and the heated rivalry between the two music stars. Also thrown into the mix is Deacon’s niece Scarlett (Bowen), an aspiring singer/songwriter paying her dues while carefully navigating a love triangle between her boyfriend Avery (Jackson) and her writing partner Gunnar (Palladio). As if that wasn’t enough drama for the show to juggle, there is Rayna’s husband’s run for mayor and the possible rekindling of her romance with Deacon. That may be a problem because Juliette is aggressively pursuing him, both professionally and personally, while dodging her drug-addicted mother – a secret that, if exposed to the press, could derail her career. The most compelling subplot has to be the potentially rekindled romance between Rayna and Deacon. Connie Britton and Charles Esten have fantastic chemistry together and you really end up rooting for them getting back together.
From the first episode, Nashville hits the ground running, presenting a fully-realized world and populating it with compelling characters. Initially, Rayna comes across as a fusion of Faith Hill and Trisha Yearwood, while Juliette is a much bitchier spin on someone like Taylor Swift. As the season goes on, however, these two characters are fleshed out and given elaborate backstories. The supporting cast also gets a chance to develop, in particular, Scarlett and her struggles.
Nashville starts off focusing on the bitter rivalry between Rayna and Juliette, but over the course of the season a grudging respect develops between them as their fortunes are reversed with Rayna on the ascendancy and Juliette on the descent. While I’ve never been a fan of country music, I’ve always been fascinated by it and the nexus point, which is Nashville. This show does a nice job of depicting a heightened, melodramatic version with the cast doing their own singing and sounding quite good thanks, I’m sure, to the Burnett’s guidance.
The first disc includes, “Nashville Comes to Nashville,” which examines how they shoot the show on location, adding to the authenticity. Creator Callie Khouri felt that no show or film she saw really captured the town and its music scene to her satisfaction. The cast praise the city and its abundance of culture.
The fifth disc starts off with “Stellas Go on ‘Tour’!”, which takes a look at the actresses that portray Rayna’s daughters on the show. They take us through a typical day shooting the show. Of course, they love going to makeup and then trying on all kinds of snazzy clothes. Basically, we get to see them have a lot of fun.
“On the Record: B-Sides” features two songs that were featured prominently on the show – “Consider Me” and “If I Didn’t Know Better.” Cast and crew, as well as the musicians, talk about the genesis of these songs and how they got on the show.
Also included are seven deleted scenes from various episodes that don’t really add too much and were rightly cut.
Finally, there is a short collection of bloopers that sees the cast blow lines and goof around.