May 15, 2012


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Written by: Mitch Salem
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CW’s good-humored not-Gilmore Girls small town romance HART OF DIXIE concluded its first season tonight with the same pleasant, likable, unthrilling touch it’s had since last fall.

Hart isn’t really about plot–to the extent it works, it’s all about charm.  The series set up its central situation in the pilot:  go-getter New York doctor Zoe Hart (Rachel Bilson) travels to the tiny, picturesque town of Bluebell, Alabama when her job and engagement fall apart, discovers that the general practitioner there is in fact her own secret father, and when he dies, she stays on, to gradually become a more caring physician and a better person.  Along the way, she flirts with romancing ne’er do well Wade Kinsela (Wilson Bethel) and town lawyer George Tucker (Scott Porter), the complication on the latter being that George is engaged to town belle Lemon Breeland (Jaime King), who consequently hates Zoe–and Zoe’s partner in the medical practice happens to be Lemon’s father Brick (Tim Matheson).  The only twist the show has come up with since September was the revelation that before Zoe came to town, Lemon briefly had an illicit romance with town Mayor Lavon Hayes (Cress Williams), who still pines for her.

The headline for the season finale, written by series creator Leila Gerstein and directed by Matheson, was simple:  Zoe gets laid!  Yes, after 21 hours and 55 minutes of television time, with a Bluebell virginity guarded as zealously as Jane Austen ever watched over one of her heroines’, Zoe finally did the nasty with Wade.  This was inevitably followed, 3 minutes later, by George turning up to say that he’d decided not to marry Lemon because he was in love with Zoe.  So… Season 2.

Hart of Dixie has its romantic triangle plot (or pentagon, with Lavon and Lemon included) because it has to be about something, but no one on the show seems to lose too much sleep over it.  The show gets by because all the leads are engaging company (even if Bilson has never been remotely believable as a hard-driven New York surgeon, therefore the idea that she needs to become somehow “nicer” doesn’t make much sense), and it has a good heart.  That’s been enough in the near-cable world of CW to earn it a renewal for next year, and so long as it can keep its level of warmth kindled high, Hart should be able to go on in its moderately entertaining way for a while.

About the Author

Mitch Salem
MITCH SALEM has worked on the business side of the entertainment industry for 20 years, as a senior business affairs executive and attorney for such companies as NBC, ABC, USA, Syfy, Bravo, and BermanBraun Productions, and before that, at the NY law firm of Weil, Gotshal & Manges. During all that, he has more or less constantly been going to the movies and watching TV, and writing about both since the 1980s. His film reviews also currently appear on and In addition, he is co-writer of an episode of the television series "Felicity."