“The Fien Print” on ABC’s NASHVILLE

Even we can enjoy a good soap. (Hey, can’t always be supercool, y’know?) And wouldn’t it be wonderful if this turned out to be just that? Gotta love the smell of betrayal in the morning! Yeah!

Take Me To The Pilots ’12: ABC’s ‘Nashville’ – by Daniel Fienberg

The Pitch:“Take ‘Dallas,’ replace oil with country music, transplant it to Nashville and… BAM!” Or, if you prefer… “You know how NOBODY saw ‘Country Strong’? We could ditch the title, turn it into a TV show and nobody would ever know.”

ABC’s “Nashville” has every element in place to be a potentially great show. Or at least it has every element in place to be a fun primetime soap in an underutilized location with perhaps a little extra substance. And maybe the problem that I have with this pilot, which is solidly written by Callie Khouri and solidly directed by R.J. Cutler, is that it just has too many elements in place and no way to do justice to all of those elements in 42 minutes. Every time I got into one plotline or another, I was abruptly yanked out and forced into another and just when I settled in and decided I was interested in that plotline, it was off to something else. I got no cumulative impact out of the pilot at all, but I could see how I’d happily watch a series that ACTUALLY focused on Connie Britton’s Reba-esque Raya (kinda an inverted Mrs Coach, as a woman whose long overshadowed husband decides he wants his own profile) or Hayden Panettiere’s Taylor Swift-esque Juliette (kinda an emotionally wounded, sexually voracious singing dwarf) or Powers Boothe’s Lamar (kinda JR Ewing, only played by Powers Boothe) or the sweet dynamic between Sam Palladio and Clare Bowen (like a country-tinged “Once”).

What I didn’t buy was the attempt, at least in the pilot, to pretend like all of the storylines had equal value, when they clearly don’t. Boothe and Britton are, of course, two actors who I’d watch do just about anything and this has the potential to be the best project for Britton since “Friday Night Lights” and for Boothe since “Hatfields & McCoys” (yes, I’m well aware that those projects were two years and one year ago). Panettiere doesn’t have their chops, but she’s actually perfectly cast in this role and I love the visual dexterity required to frame her in a way in which she looks full-sized.

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EDITED TO ADD: Speaking of NASHVILLE, this just in. The original showrunner, Jim Parriott, has been replaced by Dee Johnson. Hmm…