Thursday, September 25, 2014

Sorry, 'Nashville'...I tried.

By Peter Rodman

I tried again last night.
I really did. 
Upon hearing that the season premiere of Nashville would air partially 'live' from the Bluebird Cafe, I made a special point of tuning in right on time.   And sure enough, there it was. 
Michael Rhodes, on bass! Errr...nobody else I could pick out!!  Okay...a guy, singing!!!
The first five minutes did not bode well for my evening.  The song was bleh...but across the room from the singer, the overacting had already begun in earnest.
As the crooner crooned, the camera kept cutting away, to introduce the season's first urgent storyline, of many.   

Okay, Okay, girl-in-the-audience-at-the-Bluebird!! We get it! You're upset!!!  You're so upset you might have to leave!!!  Oh left!!!!! Out the back way!!!?
The only real drama was trying to figure out if she ran to the bathroom or clear out back, behind the kitchen and down the stairs, the way we used to in the old days.  
Joe Ely, John Prine, Peter Rodman--circa 1993
[ the exact point in the Bluebird Cafe
where 'upset girl' would have easily knocked
us over, huffing out...]

Photograph by Townes Van Zandt
Copyright 1993 & 2014 The Peter Rodman Radio Archive.

Dang.  Wish I knew.  (I'll bet Prine and Ely and Townes  and Russell Smith would like to have known, too...)
Back inside, even the video camera operator (should we have even seen him?) seemed non-plussed by her huffing off.  (Maybe because she almost knocked him over. )

Not me, though...I wasn't leavin' no-how.
I hung on. 

I wanted to like this show.  It seems like everyone I know either loves it, works on it, or knows someone else who works on it, in some capacity.
...I have to like this show.

Within the next five minutes of the season premiere, there were yet another two (or three) cringe-inducing moments of over-acting by distressed females, staring wistfully into space--the way 'daytime' actresses always do, right before commercial.  
They obviously held deep emotional secrets--internalizing enough baggage to incur 'extra charges' from United just for over-emoting.
Whats-her-name, feeling angsty again, with whats-his-name.
When the third girl in 10 minutes did it
(Hayden whats-her-name), the male country singer guy actually looked at her and said, "I can't even stand to see your face anymore," and I had to agree. 
His too, by the way. (His cliched 'drunken stagger' entrance into the next scene, bottle in hand, was a real howler.)

Know what? 
It wouldn't even matter that no alleyways behind the Bluebird look anything like the ones portrayed on Nashville
I'm not one of these people who demands total accuracy. 
I don't even care if you hang pictures of Soupy Sales in your 'Bluebird cafe.' I even liked that the opening number avoided mentioning trains, prison, trucks, chewing tobacco or tailgating.  But...

It's the bad acting that really bugs me.
For example, remember that alleyway I was just talkin' about, four sentences ago?  The cut to a punch-out scene there (again, supposedly behind the Bluebird) was so jarringly bad (splicing into tape from live), they totally butchered both the overheard 'live' song and the transition to a obviously pre-done 'fight scene.'
It literally felt like I'd switched channels.  

This is prime-time TV, circa 2014?
Okay, so maybe I'm being too picky, bringin' up technical troubles.
But is it too much to ask for even minimally believable acting?  One guy punches the other guy in the face, eliciting only a smirk, and a wipe, and a spit-out capsule of 'blood.' 
No response, beyond that.
Yep.  That-there happens every dang day, down here in 'Nashville.'

I'm embarrassed to say, that 'fight scene' actually made me
River Pheonix and Samantha Mathis get
up close and personal in Bogdanovich's
ode to NashVegas,
'The Thing Called Love'

nostalgic for the less bad acting in that River Phoenix turkey from '93 about Nashville, The Thing Called Love. 

I'm serious.  
Literally everything about that movie was better (and more authentically 'Nashville') than this Dallas-like TV soap opera. 

In fact (and I am not kidding), 
These two are gettin' ready to make some music,
if ya know what I mean...
most 'Cialis' ads have far more intriguing actors and actresses--and trust me, I'm much more interested in what happens to them, after just 60 seconds.

...aren't you?  ; )

Sorry, 'Nashville'...but every time your actors take a fake swig of 'Jack,' or your actresses roll their eyes...I roll mine.   
So, they say on (the much better drama ) Shark Tank...

"I'm out."

This opinion column is Copyright 2014 by Peter Rodman.  
All Rights Reserved.

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