No Love for Hart of Dixie
- Tuesday, October 11, 2011
90210, Gossip Girl, The Vampire Diaries and other series feature young and beautiful women and men who desire to hook up in glamorous settings with perfect lighting that highlights their gorgeous features and forms.
All are on the CW network which targets a young female audience and thus its shows feature characters that would appeal to that demographic. Sometimes the stories are compelling, as in Supernatural, a long-running carryover from the WB, but generally speaking, the CW isn't known for being Emmy-bait.
Which makes the new fall series, Hart of Dixie, fit right in. Starring Rachel Bilson as a young doctor newly arrived in the bucolic hamlet of Blue Bell, Alabama, it's yet another fish-out-of-water story of a in-a-hurry city slicker professional who winds up in a sleepy small town and has to learn a new set of values while pondering romance along the way.
With one of the more obviously contrived character names, Zoe Hart trains to be a thoracic cardiac surgeon and gives the valedictory address at her medical school. Afterwards, she is greeted by a sweet old codger by the name of Dr. Harley Wilkes who asks her to join his medical practice in Blue Bell, AL.
She politely refuses and heads off to pursue her dream of being a heart surgeon but is thwarted when her chief of surgery tells her she lacks the empathy for the job. "If you want to be a heart surgeon, then you're gonna work on your own," he says as he admonishes her for not taking the time to read The Notebook to one of her patients when asked.
Telling her she needs to take a year as a General Practioner somewhere, Zoe replies, "Diarrhea and Diaper Rash? Ewww." The chief of surgery denies her the fellowship she was sure she'd get and Zoe decides to take Dr. Wilkes up on his offer to practice in Blue Bell.
By this point in the pilot, I was struggling to believe that this woman had been through college and years of medical school, internship and residency but I was stuck at the sophmore year of college.
Bilson appears to be 20 years old, very attractive and with the flat delivery of the teenage fast food clerk who takes my order at McDonalds.
Lacking the professional demeanor a doctor would acquire after years of arduous training, she belongs at the mall, not in surgery. Bilson is nice to look at, but her performance fatally undermines the audience's ability to believe in her character.
But realism is not what the series is about because the pilot's silly departure from from normal continues. Zoe takes a bus out to the boondocks of coastal Alabama sitting next to a Doritos munching redneck until she's dropped off on the two-lane blacktop to pull her suitcase behind her into town, which apparently has no bus stop.
I'd think a doctor at this point could afford to rent a car from the Mobile airport and actually drive to Blue Bell but then Zoe wouldn't have had the chance to meet George Tucker, who pulls up in his pickup and asks her if she needs a ride. The city girl assumes he's a hillbilly axe murderer until he explains he's a lawyer.
Played winningly, (and believably) by Scott Porter, George is Zoe's first friend, and possibly something more, in the small town. As it turns out, she'll need friends as she soon discovers that Dr. Wilkes died months before and left her the practice. But that's not all, he has a partner, Dr. Brick Breeland (old pro Tim Matheison) who's outraged to learn this pretty young thing owns half the practice.
He makes her feel unwelcome and Zoe's poor interpersonal skills don't help. Soon she's experiencing a mixture of warm southern hospitality from the practice's nurse, played by veteran actress Nancy Travis, and icy condescension of Lemon Breeland, Brick's steel magnolia daughter who's engaged to George and instantly sees Zoe as a rival. Maybe it's the supershort skirts Zoe wears that contribute to the Breelands' dislike of Dr. Hart for both personal and professional reasons.
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