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'Nashville' spins like a hit and 'Arrow' hits mark
The biggest surprise of the fall TV season: some really interesting dramas to watch

 'Nashville' features Hayden Panettiere (left) as new talent and Connie Britton as the queen with the slipping crown.
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Date published: 10/15/2012

By Rob Hedelt

SURPRISE, SURPRISE: Well-made dramas are becoming the calling card of this fall's TV premieres, with ABC's "Nashville" and the CW's "Arrow" joining the ranks of those worth watching.

There are still those that don't work at all, with NBC's new "Chicago Fire" joining that club.

"Nashville" is the newest, freshest and most fully formed drama to arrive so far, benefiting from two great leading ladies and subplots so deep it will take a season of country songs to explain them all.

That will happen, because this show is about a country superstar whose age and lack of fresh new music is starting to hurt her brand.

A young upstart (read, maybe, as Taylor Swift) with a sexy image and and unbridled ambition is nipping at the heels of the country queen.

The two are played by Connie Britton ("Friday Night Lights") and Hayden Panettiere ("Heroes"), and that's a really good thing.

Britton is the perfect choice to play Rayna James, the country superstar whose records and concerts aren't selling like they once did.

She's beautiful and believable doing the singing. But beyond that she's an actress who can deliver the part of a superstar at a crossroads, torn by the demands of job, family and desire to once again be queen of country music.

Just as good as newcomer Juliette Barnes is Hayden Panettiere, who makes the ambitious young singer someone who'll do anything to succeed.

The show is done well, so the two lead roles have more than one dimension.

Rayna's the sympathetic, decent one, but she's got some skeletons in her closet. Like the love she maintains but never acts on with her band's guitarist, Deacon.

Juliette's not above sleeping her way to every break, but she's also a bit of a tortured soul, haunted by a drug-using mother who is always turning up for money.

Toss in Rayna's power-broker father (Powers Boothe), her failure of a husband (Eric Close) and two unknown musicians on the cusp of greatness, and there are plot lines aplenty.

But Britton's the one who'll make folks come back. She's the one with the kind soul viewers will root for here, bless her heart.

And she can shake it when she needs to make it.

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What: "Nashville" When: Wednesdays at 10 Where: ABC

What: "Arrow"

When: Wednesdays at 8 Where: The CW What: "Chicago Fire" When: Wednesdays at 10 Where: NBC