By LIZ MINIET
Now that #Nashies won the battle to save their beloved “Nashville,” what will they find as the show launches season 5 on a new network, CMT?
After watching the one-hour sneak peek that will air at 9 p.m. Thursday (Dec. 15) on CMT, I can tell you that if you had shown me the episode without telling me the show had changed networks, I still would’ve known something was up. “Nashville” spent four seasons on ABC, a network that has become known for the brisk pacing of shows like “Scandal” and “Quantico.”
The season 4 finale of “Nashville,” which was seen as a possible series finale because ABC had canceled the show, moved at breakneck speed as it tried to tie up various loose ends. (You can see our recap here.) However, a successful #BringBackNashville campaign by fans and the producers succeeded, with “Nashville” landing on CMT (with a next-day streaming deal with Hulu).
Now, “Nashville” is moving at a slower tempo, which is intentional. In a change that preceded the show’s move to CMT, new showrunners came on board: Marshall Herskovitz and Edward Zwick, perhaps best known to TV viewers as the creators of “Thirtysomething” and “Once and Again.” In a recent interview with TVLine.com, Herskovitz promised “less adrenaline, more emotion.”
So, what can I tell you about the return of “Nashville”?
Let’s talk about the season 4 cliffhanger: The plane carrying Juliette Barnes (Hayden Panettiere) was missing. As the new season starts, we learn Juliette has been in a major plane crash. The event has an impact on some of the other characters, particularly Rayna (Connie Britton), who’s questioning the direction of her life, particularly her career. That means some soul-searching worthy of a country song. (The key one for this episode is “Wayfaring Stranger,” also the title of the episode.)
If I tell you more about what happens to Juliette, I’m pretty sure the folks at CMT will tell Santa to fill my stocking with nothing but kale.
As Rayna deals with her label, Highway 65, hitting some bumps in the road, she goes to Silicon Valley to perform a special concert for tech big shot Zach Welles (Cameron Scoggins), a superfan who shows more than a polite interest in her music-making. I guess we’re seeing the start of a storyline for season 5.
In the “sneak peek” hour, you get plenty of Rayna and her family, which is a mixed blessing. Hey, #Nashies, don’t worry, her marriage to Deacon (Charles Esten) survived the move to CMT, and daughter Daphne (Maisy Stella) is standing up for herself a little more — which is a good thing because Maddie (Lennon Stella) is STILL Maddie. Know what I mean?
The slower tempo means the show lets the actors get deeper into their stories and their characters, but in this first hour, don’t expect to get much more than a glimpse of favorites such as Scarlett (Clare Bowen), Gunnar (Sam Palladio) and Will (Chris Carmack). I guess that’s why the official two-hour premiere at 9 p.m. Jan. 5 is two hours.
“Nashville” season 5 sneak peek
9 p.m. Thursday (Dec. 15), CMT