Hart of Dixie – Pilot

What happens if you rip one of the characters from Grey’s Anatomy and drop them into a cliché ridden version of Alabama? No one comes off well.

The characters of Grey’s Anatomy are not actually very nice people. They’re extremely ambitious in a field that’s all about competing with and trampling over your colleagues at every opportunity. They’re also extremely smart and very happy to prove that by showing off, patronising and ruthlessly mocking anyone who shows weakness. Personally I like that. However if you pick that sort of person out of that environment and put them in a different one, completely out of their context, they come across as utterly obnoxious, self-righteousness and bordering perilously close on outright offensive.

That gives you a quick insight into the problem with the central character of Doctor Zoe Hart. (See what they did with the title there? That’s the level of subtlety this show is working with.) She arrives in a new town and seemingly goes out of her way to insult and belittle everyone she meets. She may be a brilliant doctor, but she’s just not a very nice person. Her one redeeming feature is that she’s not as hateful as her mother.

Her new home meanwhile is presented as a cliché ridden backwards hole in Alabama, the only cliché it’s missing is the idea of southern hospitality. No one exactly jumps in to help the hopelessly out of place Dr Hart, cheerfully watching her make a complete idiot of herself. Of course there’s a fair amount of chicken and egg, but basically this is a pilot built around the idea of everyone jumping to conclusions, applying prejudices and no one actually managing to do anything to rise above those expectations.

The plot was as cliché as the town – every single step has been done a million times before and was sign posted from miles away as if they didn’t want to scare you with anything. The very first person Zoe meets is the Handsome Southern Gentleman who rescues her from the side of the road (because she may be smart and rich, but apparently she didn’t think to hire a car). There’s of course an instant spark of attraction, but no, it turns out he’s engaged to the saccharine sweet town princess who Zoe insults on sight. Ah, but then our hero rescues our heroine from a pet alligator and a muddy puddle (seriously!) and the spark is still there! I wonder where this might possibly end up. Not only was the pilot itself predictable but based on the storylines and relationships introduced I can pretty much map out the rest of the season, where the tensions will develop, what the big cliff hangers will be, how allegiances will come and go and the big resolutions.

It’s not like every show I watch has got a startling original premise to it, but this was taking it to extremes and to add insult to injury, it just wasn’t very entertaining. The dialogue was flat and delivered in an array of awful accents, the music painfully cheesy and too loud, the medicine was embarrassing… I genuinely can’t think of a single redeeming feature of the show.

Other reviews – apparently I’m wrong.
TV Fanatic – Overall, the Hart of Dixie premiere was pretty much what I expected. It drove home the point of how Zoe is a fish out of water, flopping around in a town that is as far away from where she hoped to be as possible. Based on the bits we learned about George and Lemon and Levon, though, it’s clear that all characters have interesting stories behind how they ended up in Bluebell.

CliqueClack – I’m not sure how anyone can not like Hart of Dixie. Sure, it’s a little saccharine, but it’s also quite genuine. The new CW drama is two parts Doc Hollywood and one part Grey’s Anatomy, mixed together and southern fried (just the way my grandmother would). Dixie is a superbly cast “dramedy” that really understands the type of show it is trying to be.

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  1. This review reminded me of what you wrote about “Private Practice” a while back:
    https://narrativedevices.com/2007/09/29/pilot-review-private-practice/
    I haven’t seen either of these, and a quick Google search didn’t turn up anything relevant; is this literally a spin-off, or just a new series in a similar style?

  1. May 19th, 2012
  2. September 4th, 2012
  3. May 16th, 2014
  4. May 23rd, 2015
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