Can ‘Nashville’ be saved?



By Amy Amatangelo, TV Gal ®

Okay Nashville, listen up. I already have one musical show I’m watching as it makes its march towards its series finale. That’s right. I’m drinking the champagne, dancing and ignoring the iceberg straight ahead as the Smash sinks.

I don’t know if I can take another show not living up to the promise of its pilot and disappointing me in every episode. In the words of Chandler Bing, I couldn’t be more Nashville’s target audience. I love country music. I love singing on television. I love big, sweeping prime time soaps. I still think there’s a chance I can be Connie Britton when I grow up. You couldn’t find a viewer who wants to love Nashville more. But lately the show seems to be taking that sentence as some sort of dare and testing the limits of exactly how much I can take before I quit the show.

The rocky first season Nashville proves how utterly challenging it is to produce a consistently compelling TV series. I don’t want to break up with Nashville. So I’m offering up my six point plan for saving the show.

  1. Stop coming up with annoying characters. Just stop it. We all know I can’t stand Scarlett with her wide-eyed naiveté, exaggerated accent, penchant for lacey white clothing, desperate whininess and bad hair extensions. I would love to see a show where Jimmy from Smash and Scarlett run off together and never return. But silly me. I thought Scarlett was the worst Nashville could come up with until it introduced Dante. Seriously, what is with this guy? He went from being a sober coach to a controlling Svengali in one episode. Not only is he annoying, HE MAKES NO SENSE.
  2. Slow down with the plot lines, please. Plot lines ricochet around with seemingly little purpose. How many times have Rayna and Deacon decided they aren’t friends? Juliette got married, had that marriage annulled and she’s already on to her next disastrous relationship. Scarlett and Avery broke up. She finally got together with Gunnar. And now Gunnar’s going to become some sort of danger junkie?  No thank you. Gunnar is one of the show’s best characters. Don’t you dare ruin him.
  3. Let the dream go.We aren’t going to care about the political plotline. Believe me, it hurts me to say it. I love Eric Close (have since Now and Again) and I want to care about Teddy, really I do. But you make it so hard. I mean how much am I supposed to care about a land deal? And, honestly, am I supposed to care that Peggy betrayed him by leaking the story of his divorce.
  4. Figure out what you are going to do with Avery: For most of the season, Avery has been marooned in his own story line and moved around like a chess piece. Often, it feels like the show only checks in on him because of some contractual obligation to do so. Making him a roadie on Juliette’s tour doesn’t solve the problem. Nor does the fact that he’s a different character in every episode.  Is he Juliette’s dastardly ex-boyfriend? A man willing to sleep his way to a career? A musician with a strong sense of artistic integrity? Don’t know and, most of the time, don’t care.
  5. Give Juliette a purpose: Hayden Panettiere’s poor little rich girl act is getting old fast. I love a bitchy Juliette. She’s fun to watch. But so far there’s still not that much to Juliette.
  6. Stop wasting Connie Britton: Britton is one of the best television actresses around. She’s managed to make me still care about Rayna amid bad writing and poor plotting. But my love for Mrs. Coach can only take me so far.

What do you think can be done to save Nashville? Talk about it below.

Earth Day Giveaway!

saving the ocean cod

By Amy Amatangelo, TV Gal ®

I don’t often talk about world events in my blog. I figure you have plenty of other places to go for that news and commentary. But, as you know, last week was a very difficult week for the city I call my home. I feel so blessed that all my family and friends are safe and that none of them were affected by this tragedy. But, like so many of you, I cannot stop thinking about those who were not so fortunate. Those who lost their lives and those whose lives are irrevocably changed. My thoughts and prayers are with them and with the city of Boston.

I’m so delighted that I have something fun and uplifting to share with you today. Thanks to Chedd-Angier Productions, I have two copies of Saving the Ocean to giveaway in celebration of Earth Day. In this 10-part PBS series (click here to find where it’s playing in your area) , marine biologist and author Carl Safina travels the globe to talk with the people who are making a positive difference in the ocean and in marine life.

So often when we talk about the environment, it is in negative terms about all the things that are going wrong. Saving the Ocean takes a wonderful look at all the things that are going right.  Safina pets whales, plays with baby sharks, and confronts the deadly lion fish. He is always looking at the solutions and his enthusiasm is infectious.

We could all use something a little inspiring this week. In the comment section below, tell me what you are doing to celebrate Earth Day or the little things you do to help the environment. I will pick two winners at random from the comments. You have until Thursday, April 25 at 5 p.m. ET to post your answers.

Thanks and Happy Earth Day!

Still Mad about ‘Mad Men’

mad men

By Amy Amatangelo, TV Gal ®

I’m still mad about Mad Men. No show pulls you in to its evocative world quite the way Mad Men does. At the end of the episode, I always feel a bit transported to another place and time. And no show quite devastates me the way Mad Men does. I’m still recovering from the way Joan was made partner last season.

But by now you’ve probably heard how we, as TV critics, are not supposed to tell you, well anything really, about the sixth season premiere of Mad Men (tonight at 9 p.m. on AMC).  My friend Mo Ryan wrote a great piece about it this week.

I have never been a critic to spoil big surprises for the viewers. I want you to have the almost same experience I have when you watch an episode. But if executive producer Matthew Weiner doesn’t want me to talk about new characters or new relationships, it’s impossible to review the premiere properly. I mean there’s only so many words I can devote to the state of Pete’s sideburns (they’re not good people, they’re not good).

Instead I thought I would give you six points to ruminate on while you watch the premiere.

  1. Mad Men gives good guest stars. There might not be an “Oh my God! Rory Gilmore’s on Mad Men” moment but there are plenty of surprising guest star turns that positively delighted me. One person looked so different that I had a very delayed reaction to figuring out who it was.
  2. After you watch Sunday night’s premiere, email me and let me know what clued you in to what year it is. I’m wondering if we will all pick up on the same thing. This revelatory type of storytelling of merely hinting at the month and year is quite effective. It truly gives the viewer the sense that we are dropping in on the characters’ lives versus they are telling a story to us.
  3. I’m so glad Peggy is still on the show and that her departure from the firm didn’t go the way of Sal Romano. I know it’s probably true to life that Sal would disappear from their lives but I still miss him on the show. Maybe this will be the season we finally get to see how Sal is doing. We’ve been able to check back in on so many other characters.
  4. Betty, who really didn’t get her fair amount of screen time last season, gets one of her more intriguing storylines in tonight’s premiere.  We see see her acting much more like a concerned and protective mother than we ever have.
  5. Mortality looms over the premiere. This has always been a recurrent theme on the series. Now it practically takes over in an absolutely not subtle way.
  6. I fear Don’s story arc is getting repetitive. I’ll be curious to hear if you feel the same way.

After you watch tonight’s premiere, email me through my contact page or post your comments below and let me know your thoughts.