While out at CMA Music Festival, MusicRow had the opportunity to screen the June test pilots* of two shows coming to ABC next season, Malibu Country and Nashville. Kenny Chesney’s documentary about the making of his June 19 release Welcome To The Fishbowl was also available for viewing in the Convention Center’s screening room. Don’t worry, no spoilers included.
*Disclaimer: Both ABC pilots were viewed during the 2012 CMA Music Festival where viewers were asked to submit evaluation forms aimed at revising sample pilots into final primetime cuts. MusicRow’s review is based on these tentative versions previewed by sample audiences.
Malibu Country (premieres November, Fridays at 8:30/7:30 CT)
The pilot episode traces the story of Reba McKenzie (Reba McEntire) as she moves from Nashville with her mother (Lily Tomlin) and two children (Juliette Angelo and Justin Prentice) to her ex-husband’s ‘loveshack’ in Malibu.
The kitschy décor of the country beach house was as clichéd as the screenwriting, which was penned by Reba show writer Kevin Abbott. Since the set looked a Disney show, it was awkward when the pilot broached more mature subjects such as divorce, marijuana and homosexuality. Through attempts to highlight Reba’s difficulty adjusting to stereotypical differences between Southern culture and the California coast, the seriousness of some issues were handled a little too lightheartedly, even by sitcom standards, which was unsettling for the viewer.
The show veered into slapstick comedy, particularly for Reba’s character. Luckily, the acting was not lacking, with one particularly compelling scene featuring Tomlin and McEntire.
A few nods to McEntire’s real-life celebrity were made during the show, which got a great reaction from the crowd. The episode also seemed to pique the audience’s hope for new music from the star. “Here’s To The New Me,” the title track for the opening spot was featured throughout the show.
Nashville (Fall, Wednesdays at 10/9 CT)
The pilot of Nashville is a showcase for the city. The show centers around Rayna James, played by Connie Britton, attempting to regain footing in the music scene after an award winning 21 year career at Edgehill Republic Records. Political and entertainment lines are intertwined to create a dramatic web of intrigue. The well-written story follows a relatable character surrounded by corruption, greed, and money.
Eli Young Band’s “Even if it Breaks Your Heart” plays in the opening scene with a swooping shot of Nashville’s downtown skyline. The Loveless Café is featured, including when Britton’s character is sporting a t-shirt from the famed establishment.
Shots and mentions of the Terrazzo, walking bridge, Ryman, Grand Ole Opry, 650 WSM-AM, The Bluebird Cafe and Tootsies beg the question: what other local spots will receive a placement?
Welcome To The Fishbowl
Kenny Chesney’s Welcome to the Fishbowl, a documentary about the making of the album of the same name, will appease fans until the music hits shelves next week (6/19).
The 40-minute Shaun Silva-directed video is available for purchase on iTunes for $4.99, or rental for $3.99 standard/$4.99 HD.
Tacklebox and Soul Shine Films follow the recording process track-by-track from Nashville’s Ocean Way studios to Buddy Cannon and Justin Niebank mixing the album at an Island beach house.
“While He Still Knows Who I Am”
“Feel Like A Rockstar”
“El Cerrito Place”
“I’m A Small Town”
“Welcome To the Fishbowl”
“Always Gonna Be You”
“Sing ‘em Good My Friend”
Chesney signs off by saying, “I hope I can bottle up the energy in this album and bring it to you on the road.” We’ll be excited to catch the Brothers of the Sun tour to see if that promise is lived up to.
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