Fall TV Second Look: Nashville (ABC)

  • Publish Date: November 9, 2012
  • Comments: ↓ 4 user comments

Over the past month, we have been taking a second look at select new fall shows to see how critics' opinions are evolving. View all Second Look reviews here.

Drama | Wednesdays at 10p ABCNashville

Critics Users
84 6.7
based on 1 ep. 50 votes

Consensus After 5 Episodes
Steady Steady
... still the best newcomer this fall (as long as it avoids the election storyline)

How it's doing: After a fairly strong premiere—when it had Modern Family as its lead-in—ratings dropped each subsequent week, before a slight uptick for this week's fifth hour. Even with that modest increase, Nashville still trails all network competitors in its timeslot, and will likely have to improve its current numbers to earn a renewal at the end of the season. ABC has yet to give the drama a full-season order, though it would appear to be safe for now.

About that Metascore: Nashville is the best-reviewed new series—including broadcast and cable shows—this fall, though its 84 is the lowest Metascore for a top-ranked fall newcomer in several years. There wasn't a single bad review (out of the 32 we collected) for the pilot episode, though some critics were more enthusastic about the first hour than others.

Episode by episode

Below, we sample comments from critics and recappers after both early and recent episodes of Nashville. When possible, we have used symbols to provide a rough snapshot of week-to-week changes in quality according to each critic:

Improving IMPROVING: Indicates the critic has noted a general improvement in quality
Steady STEADY: Indicates that episode quality has remained steady (which could be good news or bad)
Declining DECLINING: Indicates a general decline in quality in that episode

A.V. Club / Todd VanDerWerff (eps. 1-2, 4-5) and Noel Murray (ep. 3)

Episode 1

"Nashville is a confident, smart take on a host of topics, and it boasts smart writing, a great ensemble, and intelligent direction. ... In almost every way, Nashville moves like a show that knows what it wants to be, and even if not everything's in place just yet, that has to inspire confidence." [Grade: B+]

Episode 2

Steady "This isn't a perfect episode of television, but it's as good a second episode of a network drama as I've seen in a while, brimming with confidence and potential." [Grade: B+]

Episode 3

Steady "This episode of Nashville was a step down from the first two weeks in the drama department, even though it was maybe the best episode yet in terms of the music and local color." [Grade: B]

Episode 4

Declining "The problem, I think, is that the show seems to relentlessly tease things without really paying them off. To a real degree, it's rehashing the conflicts of the pilot, over and over, and we have yet to see any of the relationships shift in even a minor way." [Grade: B–]

Episode 5

Steady "One of the things that's fascinating about the show at this point is how it's struggling to figure out exactly what it wants to be. The political drama is mostly falling flat... The soapy stuff also suffers from a strange lack of commitment, as if the show isn't sure just how crazy it can get with stories of sexy double-crossing and desperate druggie mothers. The music, by and large, works, but it's when the show turns into a straightforward, earnest relationship drama that it really sings." [Grade: B]

Blast / Vincent Scarpa

Episode 1

"It seems remarkably aware of the many pilot pitfalls, and manages to navigate around nearly all of them. Never does it feel ham-fisted, or dumbed-down, or rushed. The pilot is interested in planting seeds, which is the work of any introduction, but it does so with trust in its audience that they will be intuitive, patient." [Grade: 4.5/5]

Episode 2

Steady "The second episode is just as good—and, in some respects, even better—than the pilot." [Grade: 4/5]

Episode 3

Steady "They've demonstrated a real understanding of tone and character, something that many other shows take a full season to really pin down. That's saying a lot." [Grade: 4/5]

Episode 4

Declining "If Nashville is failing anywhere, it's in the time management department. When you have this many dynamics going on in several different spaces throughout the show, it's a real dance in trying to figure out which elements get more time than others. That's something I think Nashville is still working at." [Grade: 3.5/5]

Entertainment Weekly / Ken Tucker

Episode 1

"Rarely does a pilot present a world as completely as Nashville does in its first hour."

Episode 2

Steady "This week's episode... revealed more of the series' strengths and weaknesses. ... Alas, the entire political subplot involving Rayna's dad (Powers Boothe) and Rayna's husband (Eric Close) sounded imported from an old episode of Dallas. "

Episode 3

Steady "That Deacon is the third element in each woman's emotional triangle is the shrewdest unifying device of Nashville. ... The fact that Deacon figures only implicitly (so far) in the series secondary plot — the political machinations of Powers Boothe and his will to voting-booth power — is an indication that this area of the show's storytelling has to try harder. And this week, it did."

Paste / Adam Vitcavage

Episode 1

"It was a solid debut, perhaps the best of the season, and while it's catered to a niche demographic, it shouldn't be written off without giving it a try. Country music isn't my personal preference, but well-written and superbly acted shows are. And that's just what Nashville is." [Grade 8.6/10]

Episode 3

Steady "[Nashville is] definitely one of the best network dramas around even after only three episodes." [Grade 8.5/10]

Episode 5

Steady "The one plot that I really don't care for is Teddy's run for mayor and his secret dark past. I think last week I was excited from some drama to blow up, but it just drags the other plots down. It feels like it is just being used to eventually create drama for the sake of causing drama." [Grade 8.4/10]

Toronto Star / Rob Salem

Assessment after 3 episodes

Steady "The soapy intersecting plots remain trashy fun, and the cast could not be better." [Grade: B+]

TV.com / Price Peterson

Assessment after 4 episodes

Steady "The second, third, and fourth episodes continued the high-quality writing, but an obvious element of telenovela plotting began to set in (shoplifting! Affairs! Drug addiction!) that made Nashville seem sliiiiightly less grounded than it did in the pilot. ... [But] for now Nashville is one of network TV's best series, bar none." [Individual episode grades: 5/5, 4/5, 4/5, 4/5]

TV Fanatic / Dan Forcella

Episode 1

"With a quickly established set of complicated characters, engaging original music built within this authentic setting and endless possibilities for intriguing stories down the road, Nashville is the best new show of 2012." [Grade: 5/5]

Episode 2

Steady "The only storyline I'm not quite feeling at this point is the political stuff." [Grade: 5/5]

Episode 3

Steady "So yeah, it was another great hour spent in Nashville." [Grade: 4.5/5]

Variety / Brian Lowry

Episode 1

"While there's promise in the pilot and especially the casting, the show feels a trifle disjointed, as if compelled to load up on a surplus of elements and subplots."

Episode 2

Steady "Frankly, I'm still mystified why the show received such unreserved praise, when I can think of other Southern-fried soaps -- TNT's 'Dallas' reboot comes to mind -- which feel more inherently juicy."

What do you think?

What do you think of Nashville? Is it getting any better or worse as the season progresses? Are you sticking with it?

Comments (4)

  • frkygrl84  

    I fell in love with this show within the first ten minutes of the pilot and would hate to see this show get axed. I love all the talented actors and the fact that they all actually sing the songs which is the main reason I enjoy the show so much. The only thing negative that I have to say about this show is that the political side is very boring and hope that this does not continue to be a main part of the plot each week. I really do hope this show continues to improve and look forward to next weeks episode and hopfully many more.

  • Gio86  

    A horrible overrated country mess.

  • fredinwhiterock  

    Great show. I love the music industry and relationship conflicts. I am not interested in the political subplot continuing. The writers should write out Rayna's husband and make her a free agent.

  • sugarbaker  

    I think Nashville is one of the BEST new TV shows on this Fal. I am SO sick of Doctor and Lawyer shows that it is nice to see a Music drama on. My only problem is that in my occupation I have to rely on "On Demand" from Time Warner Cable in Erie PA to watch the show and for some reason the network is not allowing On Demand to air Nashville anymore! PLEASE put the show back On Demand!

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