‘Nashville,’ ‘Arrow,’ Take 2: More Flat Than Sharp

Both “Nashville” and “Arrow” got off to reasonably good starts ratings-wise, and enjoyed generally favorable reviews — especially in the former’s case.

So given my own mild misgivings about them — which you can find here and here — how did the singers and zingers fare in their second weeks, creatively speaking?

There were some sharp notes, but both struck me as a little bit flat.

Nashville1“Nashville” clearly has formidable assets in Connie Britton and Hayden Panettiere, but most of the supporting players remain either out of step with them in tone (see Powers Boothe as Britton’s power-mad dad) or not particularly interesting. And I’m already bored with Britton’s band leader and old flame (played by Charles Esten) being caught between the two divas.

Frankly, I’m still mystified why the show received such unreserved praise, when I can think of other Southern-fried soaps
Nashville2— TNT’s “Dallas” reboot comes to mind — which feel more inherently juicy. Moreover, after people got prematurely enthused about its debut ratings, “Nashville” looked considerably weaker — predictably — without an hour of “Modern Family” leading into it. (We’ll see what DVR numbers do, of course, which has become a necessary disclaimer.)

As for “Arrow,” the show has found two fronts in which to layer on mystery — what happened on the island, and the power brokers the protagonist is out to stop — but with every new beat, the series feels more and more like “Batman’s Creek.”

Even the conceit of Oliver Queen (Stephen Amell) having to pretend to be what he’s not in order to obscure his secret identity by playing the churlish billionaire has “Batman Begins” written all over it. Then again, when you’re trying to fashion a second-tier comic-book character for mass consumption, why
Arrownot borrow from the best?

While Amell is just fine — and I kind of enjoyed seeing Kelly Hu as a stock villain under a blond flapper wig in this most recent hour — my biggest complaint so far is the action isn’t particularly exciting. Everything is so rapidly edited, dark and murky it’s hard to appreciate what’s happening, and they have yet to find a way to make people getting shot with arrows all that riveting.

As a recovering comic-book fan who’s quite familiar with the character, I really should be the target audience (OK, the father of those within the target audience) for something like this. So the fact “Arrow” again failed to pierce my hardened critic’s heart and find the little boy inside isn’t a particularly good sign.

That said, this is on the CW, and while I confess to admiring Amell’s abs, I don’t swoon every time he bares them. (Although this might sound like nitpicking, one more point: Seriously, would it kill him to put on a mask? How long before someone knocks his hood off and goes, “Omigod! Oliver Queen!”)

The bottom line is both shows offer a pretty good demonstration about the wisdom of keeping one foot on the floor when judging new pilots, until a series demonstrates what it has in its playlist and quiver, respectively.

So if either show has a country hit or Cupid’s arrow in its arsenal, I suggest they unleash them sooner rather than later.


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