Wednesday, September 28, 2011

OPINION: HART OF DIXIE PREMIERE - Rachel Bilson is delightfully appealing!

Rachel Bilson as Zoe Hart + a warm-hearted feel good drama set in a small town with colorful characters + hunky guys to be the object of Zoe Hart’s affections should have been old school WB GOLD. It wasn't, but all hope isn't lost for HART OF DIXIE. Using voice over to establish Zoe’s pre-Bluebell, Alabama life was fine, but once her cardiothorasic fellowship dreams were dashed the narration should have disappeared as we followed her to Bluebell.  I didn't need to know every last thought that was going through Zoe's head.

I consider myself a savvy TV viewer so I was disappointed in myself when I did not see that Harvey Wilkes did not leave Zoe his small town practice after witnessing her magnificent speech at her medical school graduation but rather because…and this is a spoiler…he was her real father. The clues were all there.  Random guy(Harvey Wilkes) sending her postcards trying to get her to come to his practice(prior to his death of course), a father who Zoe said was awesome but was clearly absentee. Using Zoe's new found parentage as a reason for her to stay in town was a development I was on board with.

Obviously viewers are supposed to root for Zoe and George Tucker from the first moment they lay eyes on each other but the chemistry was lacking. There was nothing between them no matter how much they gazed at one another. Zoe's subsequent walk through the town square led her straight to Lemon Breeland, the woman destined to be her rival. Lemon , and this one is a real shocker,  is George's fiance. Lemon is also Dr. Breeland's daughter. Dr. Breeland was Dr. Wilkes’s partner in the medical practice and he is not interested in bringing on a new partner. Lemon was shown in three outfits and TWO of them prominently featured bright yellow. Seriously?

There wasn't a natural connection between Zoe and anyone in that town until she met Mayor Lavon Hayes.  An instant rapport was struck that was not romantic. I envisioned Zoe getting herself into all sorts of trouble and relying on Lavon to bail her out. It was the beginnings of the all too rare platonic friendship between heterosexual male and female characters. Their exchange had ease, humor, and started to give me some hope that things may have just gotten off to a rocky start.  

More Zoe is a fish out of water good times ensue ultimately leading to George getting run over by a car(don’t worry he’s fine) and Zoe being called into treat him. They have a playful exchange as she sets his dislocated shoulder and it happens…I see a connection. The snarkier they are with each other the more chemistry there is! Of course this is the moment Zoe learns that George and Lemon are engaged and decides to buy a box of wine, walk home while drinking it, and then make out with her neighbor Wade. Bad decisions all around, but to be fair I’d make the same bad decision. George and Zoe’s subsequent interactions have more depth and meaning now that we know they can’t be together and the revelation of a past between Lavon and Lemon opens the door for some potential sparks to fly later. Through helping a young mother give birth Zoe finds her inner bedside manner. We are supposed to think she was Cristina Yang 2.0 before arriving in Bluebell, but Rachel Bilson doesn't have tough as nails in her.

Rachel Bilson is so delightfully appealing that you can’t help but forget about the rocky beginnings and look at the potential emerging in the second half of the episode. I'm not convinced this show is going to be the second coming of Gilmore Girls meets Everwood(as some have said), but I will come back for the second episode with hope for the possibility of good things ahead.

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