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The Home Team / A lonely Westport defender of 'Nashville'

Published 10:51 am, Friday, January 25, 2013
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I'm writing this on a Wednesday morning. I'm in kind of a good mood because later on this evening, I'll get to check in with Rayna Jaymes and Juliette Barnes and Deacon Claybourne and see what kind of trouble they're getting themselves into on "Nashville" this week.

Though the ABC television series is a major hit nationally, in this neck of the woods it appears to have just a cult following: Me. Nobody I know watches the show, and, for sure, I'm the only one in my family who's a fan. As a stubborn and at times perverse individual, there's the possibility that I watch "Nashville" for this reason alone, though I like to think there's more to it than that. It is, in fact, the only show I watch. There used to be two, but "Homeland" took a break during the Christmas holiday and seems to have forgotten to come back on. Of course, I'm not counting sports, which I watch pretty much constantly.

My wife, on the other hand, watches 87 shows regularly. Okay, I see she's correcting me now. Make that eight. She's constantly telling me that some of the best stuff going on in the arts these days is on TV -- especially on cable. She says she watches the intelligent shows. "Girls." (Lena Dunham is absolutely brilliant, yada yada yada.) "Downton Abbey." "The Good Wife." "Boardwalk Empire." I'm wondering: Is "Revenge" also an "intelligent" show? "Scandal?" "Grey's Anatomy?" She also tells me she has a "queue" of shows waiting for when she has more time in her "next life": "Breaking Bad;" "Mad Men;" "The Wire."

So here's the odd part. Though she's a big fan of TV, and though she regularly watches all these shows, the only show I do watch, she doesn't. Why not? Because it's "stupid." It's "ridiculous." It's "corny, melodramatic, and predictable." It's "Dallas," except that it's set in Nashville. Above all, it's not "nuanced." By way of illustration, she points out that whenever Lamar Wyatt (Powers Boothe), the wicked, conniving, power-crazed big daddy on the show comes on the screen, the score becomes heavy-handed and ominous, lest we forget how evil and duplicitous and sleazy he is.

This is all true. I can't deny it. The cat-fighting between dueling country stars Rayna Jaymes and Juliette Barnes is totally cliche. The flickering-but-not-quite-snuffed-out romance between Rayna and Deacon is totally hackneyed. And ambitious Avery Barkley dumping his BFF bandmates when he's offered a big solo recording contract by a music-biz mogul in Atlanta? Saw that one coming from a mile away.

But for me, "Nashville" has got some powerful things going for it. For one, it's got Connie Britton. I love Connie Britton. You know, Tami Taylor -- or "Mrs. Coach" -- from "Friday Night Lights?" She was also, though people tend to forget this, Diane, Jack Bauer's love interest, in season five of "24." ("Friday Night Lights" and "24" are among the select few shows I've watched in recent years.) Connie is gorgeous, she's an amazing actress, and on top of all that, as comeback country star Rayna Jaymes, she can really sing. (Hayden Panettiere, as Juliette Barnes, ain't bad, either!)

The show also features great, original country music. And I mean great. "The Wrong Song," the rollicking duet sung by Rayna and Juliette, is fantastic. The entire CD, "The Music of Nashville," is my current go-to album; I haven't played anything else on my iPod for the last few weeks.

And, of course, there's Nashville itself -- one of my favorite cities in the entire US of A -- with scenes set in and around the Bluebird Cafe and the Ryman and Tootsie's and Jack's Bar-B-Que and a host of other iconic spots in Music City.

So, my dear wife, make all the fun you want. You just keep watching "Downton Abbey" and "The Good Wife" and "Girls" and all your intelligent, quality shows.

Just don't come looking for me on Wednesday nights. I'll be watching "Nashville."

"The Home Team" appears every other Friday. You can also keep up with Hank's adventures with his dog, Ricky, on his blog, "Beagle Man," on the Westport News website, at http://blog.ctnews.com/beagleman/. To reach Hank, email him at DoubleH50@gmail.com or follow him on Twitter @BeagleManHank.