Oct 11, 201209:37 AMThe Telegraph
The Premier Blog of the West
TV Recap: Top 5 Things You Need To Know About The Premiere Of 'Nashville'
A country music icon fears her stardom may be fading — while a younger rival hopes to overshadow her — in the premiere episode of Nashville, the new ABC series about chasing dreams and spinning schemes in Music City. If you missed all the drama Wednesday evening, here are the Top 5 things you need to know before tuning in next week.
FALLING STAR: Not so very long ago, folks referred to Rayna James (Connie Britton) as “the future of country music.” Lately, however, she’s had cause to worry whether she’s past her prime. Her latest album has tanked, she’s not selling out concerts the way she used to, and the bean-counters at her record label are “suggesting” she should ditch plans for her upcoming tour, and “co-headline” with sexy young up-and-comer Juliette Barnes (Hayden Panettiere). Rayna doesn’t take kindly to that suggestion. For one thing, she doesn’t think Juliette has enough raw talent to qualify for a gig as one of her backup singers. And she’s more than a little miffed when Teddy Conrad (Eric Close), her husband, opines that maybe, just maybe, it wouldn’t be such a bad idea for her to accept second billing to a new talent on a potentially career-reviving tour.
RISING STAR: Juliette is an amorally ambitious sexpot, no doubt about it, and she wouldn’t be nearly so successful without a lot of help from the guys who “fix” her tracks in the recording studio. (“Thank God for autotune,” one of them remarks.) But she’s bright enough to know what she needs — and ruthless enough to go after what she wants. First she borrows Randy Roberts (Burgess Jenkins), Rayna’s producer, to oversee work on her own recording session. (Randy gets a dandy fringe benefit for his temporary employment — a roll in the hay with the sexy singer.) Then Juliette sets her sights on Deacon Clayborne (Charles Esten), Rayna’s long-time guitarist, bandleader and confidant (and ex-lover). Juliette knows Deacon is a great songwriter, and she proposes that they make some sweet music together. Deacon hesitates — after all, he does feel loyal to Rayna — but Juliette can be very, ahem, convincing.
DARK STAR: Rayna vows that, no matter how long and serious her career lull might be, she will never — repeat, never — accept financial help from her rich and powerful father, Lamar Wyatt (Powers Boothe), a Nashville power-broker and string-puller who uses strong-arm tactics only when smooth-talking fails. (“He’s always there,” Rayna cracks, “when he needs you.”) But Lamar is on much better terms with Tandy (Judith Hoag), his other daughter, who’s gainfully employed as his assistant (and well-positioned as his heir apparent). With a little help from Tandy, he’s able to convince Teddy to run as his hand-picked candidate in the upcoming election for mayor of Nashville (which, with his typical grandiloquence, he describes as “a thriving, prosperous city, an industrial and cultural juggernaut) Rayna isn’t at all happy about her husband’s decision to enter politics, and not just because she already promised old friend Coleman Carlisle (Robert Wisdom) that she'd kick off his mayoral campaign. She strongly suspects — with ample cause — that Lamar will use Teddy merely as a pawn in a scheme to control Music City (and, not incidentally, manipulate her). But Teddy is desperately eager to jump-start his self-esteem after making some disastrous financial investments. So he more or less shames Rayna into supporting his campaign by pointing out how long he’s stood by her side while she pursued her dreams.
TAKING FLIGHT: Scarlett O’Connor (Clare Bowen), Deacon’s niece, works as a waitress at Nashville’s celebrated Bluebird Cafe, where unknown singer-songwriters are encouraged to perform during “open mike” nights. She’s a sensitive and unassuming young woman who writes poetry. Gunnar Scott (Sam Palladio), a promising singer-songwriter and Bluebird regular, is immediately attracted to Scarlett and thinks her poems would work great as song lyrics. One thing leads to another, and the couple winds up performing at the Bluebird a song they’ve co-written. It’s quite possible that this collaboration won’t sit well with Avery Barkley (Jonathan Jackson), Scarlett’s musician boyfriend. But Nashville living legend and gray eminence Watty White (J.D. Souther) just happens to be in the audience when Scarlett and Gunnar take the stage on open mike night. He likes what he hears, and he calls Rayna so she, too, can listen to the couple’s performance on her cellphone.
INTIMATIONS OF COMING ATTRACTIONS: Rayna meets with the new boss at her record label, and things don’t go well. He wants a decision on his proposal that Rayna tour with Juliette. Rayna responds: “You can kiss my decision as it’s walking out the door.” Meanwhile, Juliette has to deal with unwelcome phone calls from her mom, a bedraggled addict — crystal meth appears to be her drug of choice — who demands a cash infusion. Rayna has another unpleasant encounter, this time with Lamar, who claims he’s the one who really launched her career by secretly bankrolling her first record. (He also drops a hint that Teddy may not be the father of one of Rayna’s daughters.) Even so, Rayna dutifully appears by her husband’s side as Teddy announces his candidacy. Lamar smiles. Or maybe he’s just showing his teeth.