Entertainment » Television

Nashville - The Complete First Season

by Michael  Cox
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Friday Sep 20, 2013
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It happens in the pilot episode of "Nashville: The Complete First Season". We hear that great Tammy Wynette classic "Stand by Your Man", and we instantly scan the scene for irony. We wait for a character to say something sarcastic.

It’s such a legendary song, such a classic. On one hand, Tammy sings it so well; the pure ache in her voice can’t help but make you feel something, but on the other, we can’t possibly take a premise like that seriously.

This song is a foreshadowing of what is to come in this series: successful, talented women choose to "stand by their men" and less successful men end-up standing behind their women. Sure it’s a guilty pleasure; sure it seems shameful to buy into the sentiment of it all but we do it anyway (when people aren’t watching) because the characters’ desperation is so sincere.

Doesn’t that sum up our whole relationship with television.

"Nashville" is a part of the trending new genre, "a musical series about dreamers questing to connect to a cheering live audience onstage." And the city in Tennessee is a prominent character in the show. In the special features one of the executive producers says, "Nashville is the center of the songwriting universe," and this show makes us believe that’s true (at least for white and blond people.)

Rayna Jaymes (Connie Britton) is an established country music superstar, but her latest album is not selling, and her tour is playing to half empty venues. Her record label suggests that she opens for Juliette Barnes (Hayden Panettiere), the young and sexy best selling singer of country/pop music - think Taylor Swift.

"This is not how songs get written," Deacon says to Juliette as she tries to seduce him.

"No," she replies. "This is what songs get written about."

Both women want guitarist Deacon Claybourne (Charles Esten) to sign on to their tour. A man with a lot of talent of his own but a troubled past, Deacon is Rayna’s ex-lover and a guy who Juliette would like to turn into her future ex.

The series villain is Rayna’s estranged father, the millionaire businessman Lamar Wyatt (Powers Boothe), who wants his daughter’s husband, Teddy Conrad (Eric Close), to run for Mayor of Nashville. This forces Rayna to stand by her man even though she’s suspicious of the whole pursuit, and, to tell the truth, her heartstrings still pull for Deacon.

"I don’t want to hold you back," Rayna says to Deacon. Even though he remains dedicated to her, she wants him to pursue his own dreams. "I want you to be happy."

"Darlin’," Deacon replies, "you know good and well there’s only one thing that’s gonna make me happy, and I lost that a long time ago."

The 5-disk DVD collection has all 21 episodes plus exclusive never-before-seen bonus features that highlight shooting on location in Tennessee and the real artists behind the music in the show.

"This is not how songs get written," Deacon says to Juliette as she tries to seduce him.

"No," she replies. "This is what songs get written about."

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