Summer Roberts is back…. y’all. Summer, I mean Rachel Bilson, says so long to The O.C. and hello, errr “howdy,” to Bluebell, Alabama. Maybe it’s my southern roots, maybe it’s the familiar twang of a country drawl, or maybe it’s the lure of a show sans vampires, whatever “it” is, a pilot boasting old fav Bilson promised to peak my interest. Desperately, I hope my interest hasn’t jumped the gun….
We begin our fish outta water tale with soon to be doctor, Zoe Hart (Rachel Bilson). After delivering a rousing grad speech, Zoe is met by Dr. Harvey Wilkes, a kindly gentleman who humbly offers our heroine a gig down South at his modest practice. She declines, but fast forward 4 years after the shiny of medicine has dulled. Now we find a change of heart, Dr. Hart that is. Will Dr. Hart ditch her city digs for some fresh air and wholesome country values? You bet your boots. Fresh off the bus, yes bus from New York City, we find our driven, down but not out, damsel in distress. Apparently planes or trains don’t quite reach the farthest corners of Alabama, dadgum. Coincidently, city slicker Zoe needs a ride into town and stumbles upon country cutie, George Tucker (Scott Porter). Side by side in Tucker’s beat up Chevy, the chemistry is palpable. Sighhhhh. I hate it when my doctorish dreams in the big city don’t quite work out as planned and I head south to find true meaning in the “simple” life, only to serendipitously meet ridiculously attractive country boys with contrived Southern accents!
Show creator Leila Gerstein and the producing dream team from The O.C., Josh Schwartz and Stephanie Savage, take us to the town of Bluebell where southern stereotypes are not sprinkled, but run rampant. Enter bad boy in a band Wake (Wilson Bethel), narrow-minded, gun-toting, antagonist Dr. Brick Breeland (Tim Matheson), and his daughter, simpering Southern Belle, Lemon Breeland (Jaime King). We soon discover Lemon, as Bluebell’s reigning blonde bombshell, is wait for it…. engaged to Zoe’s knight in shining armor, George Tucker. Zoe’s sassy banter with George and the looming prospect of gritty love triangle kept me from turning to reruns of Gilmore Girls. But seriously, Hollywood… When will ya’ll learn it’s best to employ writers who have actually visited the South? And I don’t mean visited the South via Scarlett O’Hara, Gone with the Wind, style.
With so many uhh, stimulating characters, one forgets the premise of the pilot did mention something about medicine. Aaahhha. That’s right; it is “doctor” Zoe Hart, after all. Fortunately, a medical case arises and the good doctor gets her hands dirty….literally dirty, in childbirth. Not so fortunately, Zoe’s time evaluating her life’s direction takes a turn down Regret Lane. Like all independent women, when plans fail, you grab boxed wine and find a make out buddy. Enter neighbor McHottie, Wake. After this debacle and somewhere near the show’s end, you start to wonder about the nice old dude whose consistent pleas, and untimely death, convinced Zoe to make the track down South. In one twist, all is revealed. Dr. Harvey Wilkes was Zoe’s biological father. How will this earth shattering revelation affect our dear doctor? Don’t get a bee in your bonnet. Episode two is right around the corner.
Oh Bilson, I feel as though I and other 20-somethings across the country would love to love you in this role. However, we are painfully aware that over the top accents, a few Chevy trucks, and belles in bouffant gowns, do not a successful Southern show make. On the flip side, there’s something warmly inviting about this pilot whose curious characters and colorful antics keep you more than mildly entertained. Reminiscent of The WB glory days of old, I applaud the creators for resisting the urge to toss in some magic spells or references to Twilight. So yes, it’s like dramatic monologues from Grey’s Anatomy meets sarcastic drivel from The O.C. meets bits and pieces from almost every scene of Sweet Home Alabama. But who cares, Monday nights, I just might start whistling Dixie.