Nashville’s A Pretty Good Show

Nashville‘s one of those shows that I was kind of interested in when I first saw commercials for it, but it fell to the wayside by going on opposite my beloved The Challenge. However, this weekend, we found ourselves visiting the inlaws who have On Demand. While flipping through available TV shows to watch, we stumbled upon Nashville and gave the first two episodes a watch. For the most part I dug it, but did have a few problems.

First, though, the positive stuff. I love how complex this show is. Sure, it leads very easily and quickly into melodrama, but I love playing catch-up with such a large cast, the connections between the characters and their deep dark pasts (which everyone seems to have). I also like how the series doesn’t take the easy way (at least so far). The main point of contention in the first episode is whether Connie Britton’s Rayna Jaymes, an aging country star, will go on tour with hot young thing Juliette Barnes (Hayden Panettiere). Instead of saying yes, which I kind of expected, she makes the hard and possibly suicidal decision not to. I like that kind of bob and weave storytelling.

I also think Panettiere is wonderful in her role. Yes, she has the bitchy star thing nailed, but how hard can that be? Then you start to see what else is going on with her: her mom’s a meth head, she’s clearly addicted to sex and the power that comes from it and she wants to prove to the world that she’s a legit musician and not just a pop starlet. There’s a lot going on with her character and she conveys that when it makes sense, but not always because that would betray her inner self.

I’m a little less impressed with Britton. I haven’t seen her in anything since Spin City (I know, I know, Friday Night Lights is awesome, I just don’t want to watch it right now), but I thought her delivery betrayed a more comedic sensibility than a dramatic one. There was something about her that I wasn’t liking throughout the first episode and a half and then I realized what it was: her eyes do like four things every time she’s thinking about something. It’s never just a quick glance to the side while lying or avoiding the truth, it’s like, up, down, left, right, blink, talk. It’s nuts! I also laughed out loud when Barnes sent a guitar to her guitar player/former boyfriend and she spreads a line like “What the hell is that” out like peanut butter on Wonder Bread.

But that’s not such a big deal to me, really. For the most part, I dig Britton and the rest of the cast. My bigger problem is a general sense of unbelievability with the story. If my wife had such a terrible relationship with her father — who is the most obviously evil person in the history of history — there’s no way I’d get in his pocket as a mayoral candidate, especially after telling her that we can leave this rich person lifestyle behind and go do something else with our lives. I also think there’s no possible way a political candidate for anything would be able to make it past the fact that his wife had a very public romance with the guy she still works with, not to mention the fact that they wrote beloved love songs that they’re about to go out on tour to sing again.

I try to suspend my disbelief when it comes to these things, but if the basis of the story is shaky, I have trouble coming back and enjoying the series on a regular basis. I think I can get past it though. I mean, this show is about music and people at different stages of creating music and the fame that can come along with it. I’m a sucker for that kind of thing and will come back for more if the show proves successful and sticks around.

Halloween Scene: Scream 4 (2011)

Let’s see, I’ve blogged about my history with the Scream franchise a bit when revisiting the first and third installments recently, so you can head over there for a little more backstory. Basically, much like the Mission: Impossible franchise, this one was huge when I was growing up and really getting to understand and love movies. You couldn’t be a teenager and avoid them and I was cool with that because they were right in my horror wheelhouse. When I heard that Wes Craven and Kevin Williamson were re-teaming for another sequel, I was curious but not intensely so. I tend not to get as excited about these things as I used to.

That doesn’t mean I don’t enjoy them, though. I actually had a great time watching this movie even if I had to break into three parts and only watch when the kid was sleeping. Craven and Williamson did a great job of using elements from the first film, commenting on them in this one and switching things up. In other words, it’s not a beat for beat remake along the lines of Hangover 2, but instead done in the same spirit and universe as the original.

This time around, the walking catnip for nutjobs Sidney Prescott returns home on a book tour only to find that a new person(s) running around killing people as Ghost Face. In this reality the Stab movies are almost up to double digit sequels and so people are very well versed in horror both real and fictional. Dewey and Gale, now married, are also involved though there’s trouble in their domestic paradise.

Things move along at a good clip with SPOILER a series of false openings starring pairs of stars talking about horror movies, usually before one kills the other. The kills were on par with what I wanted to see in something like this and I thought the cast, including all the younger kids brought in for the new generation, were really fun to watch. I like the kid that was supposed to be the new Randy, Emma Roberts did well and a friend and I both agree that Hayden Panettiere is mesmerizing. I was most surprised by how brutal some of the pre-kill fight scenes were. I didn’t watch a movie for Friday Fisticuffs last week, but I think this movie has plenty of good ones. I’d check and see if one in particular towards the end was on YouTube, but it’s a huge spoiler, so I’ll skip it.

I did have one problem with the film, but it’s not really the movie’s fault. I think I’m losing my taste for fiction that involves people going nuts for stupid reasons. I know it happens, but with the proliferation of procedurals, horror movies and real life news stories, it can be a little difficult to take so many reasons to kill. I had a hard time buying Stu’s motives in the original film and had equally hard time accepting that the killer this time was doing it just to be famous. Again, this stuff happens, people can be broken and damaged and do incredibly awful things to one another for no good reason, but seeing so many of these explanations gets a little tiring. The straw that really broke the camel’s back for me was an episode of Bones I caught recently where the killer did her thing because someone messed with her bushes. Seriously? While these things might make sense in their own little worlds, being a consumer of pop culture and being inundated with them can be a bit taxing.

However, I still liked this film and possibly more than the original. Scream is held up as this huge milestone in horror, the movie that not only made the genre’s films more self aware (whether that’s good or bad remains to be seen and lies in the eye of the beholder) but also gave my generation a horror movie that had a big budget and was also just plain good. On the other hand, I’m not sure how good it is on repeated viewings. I’m the type of person who definitely holds things in esteem because I was familiar with them when I was younger. So, I almost feel a little bad for not liking parts of Scream, but don’t have that connection with the newest one. That sounds like a bad thing, but it’s not. It’s an easier watch, it’s got a cast that’s equal to or better than the original and I think the creators really found a sweet spot in both of their crafts.