Fall TV Pilot Preview: ABC's 'Nashville'

Nashville Cast PR image - H 2012

Nashville Cast PR image - H 2012

Just as Glee uses music to explore the underdog and Smash uses original songs to tell a story about Broadway, ABC's upcoming Nashville uses original country songs to tell a complex family drama set amid Nashville's music scene.

The Hollywood Reporter got a chance to screen the pilot before the series' official fall launch, and has five things to know about the Connie Britton-Hayden Panettiere drama ahead of its premiere.

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1. It's a family drama at its heart. Britton's Rayna James is part of a powerful Nashville family that's imploding thanks to poor record sales and a bad investment on her husband's part. Turns out Rayna's father, Lamar Wyatt (Powers Boothe), has plans to help the family dig themselves out that involves a race for office that isn't quite on the up and up.

2. Like the Harmons on FX's American Horror Story, Britton's marriage isn't perfect. The actress, who with former FNL co-star Kyle Chandler comprised one of TV's most realistic marriages, has ample material here as her character is tasked with supporting her husband and two young daughters. Britton's legendary country megastar has a second family with just as much history. Charles Esten's Deacon -- Reyna's longtime bandleader -- is a face and voice to watch with a complicated love triangle just waiting to explode. Prepare to fall in love with this good ol' boy with a penchant for picking the wrong woman.

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3. Britton sings (and says "y'all"!) before the opening credits roll. The former Friday Night Lights Emmy nominee and American Horror Story alum -- and her co-star, Panettiere -- both worked with vocal coach Valerie Morehouse (Colbie Caillat, Avril Lavigne, Regina King) to prep for Nashville and it shows.

4. The catchy original music will appeal to country and non-country music fans alike. Memo to ABC: free money if you go the Glee and Smash route by offering the original songs featured in each episode as downloads via iTunes. Musical highlights in the pilot also include a heartbreaking ballad from Esten, who also trained with Morehouse.

5. Heroes' Panettiere plays the bitch -- but her young "it" singer does have a major redeeming quality that provides insight into her less than perfect behavior that makes her character sympathetic in a way that viewers didn't quite get to see from Smash's manipulative Ellis.

Nashville will air at 10 p.m. Wednesdays in the fall. Watch a trailer below. Will you watch?

Email: Lesley.Goldberg@thr.com; Twitter: @Snoodit