October 11th, 2012
05:02 PM ET
It was ABC's new drama "Nashville" that brought the heat in Wednesday night's ratings, beating other freshman drama, NBC's "Chicago Fire." According to critics, those were ratings well deserved.
Entertainment Weekly has already called "Nashville" - which stars Connie Britton as aging country singer Rayna and Hayden Panettiere as Juliette, the fresh country upstart threatening to take Rayna's throne - as the fall season's best new series.
"One of the great pleasures of 'Nashville' is that it arrived fully formed, with a sure sense of what it wants to accomplish" EW's Ken Tucker said. "It's really entertaining, and much more than merely entertaining."
USA Today's Robert Bianco was similarly taken, calling "ABC's countrified soap ... the seaon's most promising new series."
"Nashville" is "a sprawling story, held together with music," Bianco said. "The test going forward will be whether the show can keep these plot lines spinning without having them spin out of control."
And while The Atlantic's Kevin Fallon has been disappointed by the flaws in musical TV shows like "Glee" and "Smash," "Nashville" just might be musical TV's saving grace.
The singing is great and so is the writing, managing to keep the plotlines "grounded even as they veer into soapiness," Fallon said. "That's why ABC's 'Nashville' ... is so encouraging ... It succeeds where 'Glee' and 'Smash' have failed. Finally, there's a sophisticated, adult musical series on TV."
NBC's "Chicago Fire," by contrast, didn't win as many heartfelt praises. The series, executive produced by Dick Wolf, revolves around the work-life drama of a Chicago firehouse. Without a doubt there's plenty of eye candy to enjoy, critics say, but the substance is lacking.
The Los Angeles Times' Robert Lloyd found its action scenes to be "impressively staged," but unless we'd need to live in a "world without cable drama" to see "Chicago Fire" as "compelling and realistic. As it is, it walks the line between shameless entertainment - hot guys, hot girls, the fires within, the fires without - and intelligent storytelling."
Zap2It agreed that the action is "Chicago Fire's" strong suit, noting that "there's no shortage of drama to mine there." But the verdict was middling: "It's not terrible, and it is full of eye candy, so maybe that should be considered a win for NBC."
For what it's worth, it sounds like the show improves post-pilot. What's your verdict on "Nashville" and "Chicago Fire"?
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