Premieres Friday on Fox.
Musician Chuck Wicks
Thirty-two years ago, Robert Altman made a movie called "Nashville" that used the country-music capital for a rumination on politics, alienation and American society in the '70s. Now Fox has made a series called "Nashville" that uses the country-music capital for a rumination on romance and hooking up.
Need I be more explicit about which one most deserves your attention?
All right, those of you who love "Laguna Beach" -- whose producers have also made "Nashville" -- may want to argue about the relative importance of a new "docu-soap" and a movie made before many of you were born.
But even as it chronicles the attempts by some young people to make it big in music -- among them, Chuck Wicks, above, and Rachel Bradshaw, daughter of football's Terry -- the soporific premiere has very little about music, and even some of that sounds out of date. I liked the point where Wicks, preparing for a showcase, was advised not to lean down toward his guitar, because it looked too singer-songwriter-y.
But I was baffled by music pros discussing how remarkable a singer with male-model looks was in a business that had been dominated by the likes of Waylon and Willle. You'd think they had just transported in from, oh, 1975, unaware of George Strait and his matinee-idol peers and successors.
Of course, "Nashville" is about the music business in roughly the same way that "Laguna Beach" was about that city's interest in tourism. In sum, hardly at all. That was clear in a scene where three of the women strip down to their bathing suits, stretch out to tan and discuss their vague plans -- a scene that could just as easily have been in "Laguna Beach." The people of Fox's "Nashville" have plenty of time to tan and shoot pool, because they're not working all that hard. Because they're on a TV show, they have career options genuinely struggling singers don't generally get. So, instead of working, they're spending a lot of time eyeing each other, either hungrily because they sense possibilities, or angrily because an opportunity has moved on to someone else. (By the end of the first hour, you already have a would-be player and a seemingly spurned beauty.)
And even with all that maneuvering, it's a bore.