October 3, 2012



HART OF DIXIE:  Tuesday 8PM on CW

WHERE WE WERE:  The bedroom of Dr. Zoe Hart (Rachel Bilson) in Bluebell, Alabama, where the New York transfer was finally getting some action after an entire season of dithering.  On what was supposed to be the wedding night of George Tucker (Scott Porter), for whom Zoe had been pining, with his longtime fiancee Lemon Breeland (Jaime King), Zoe had at long last jumped into bed with Wade Kinsella (Wilson Bethel), with whom she’d been sparring all season and whose dual careers include running a bar and shirtlessness.  Everything was fine until George turned up at Zoe’s door to announce that he’d called off his wedding with Lemon because he was finally ready to admit that she was the one he loved.

WHERE WE ARE:  The next morning.  The events of the 2nd season premiere, written by series creator Leila Gerstein and directed by Tim Matheson (who also plays Lemon’s father and Zoe’s medical partner Brick Breeland), were almost all concerned with the aftereffects of the previous night.  While the town reacted in shock and blamed Zoe as the homewrecker of the piece, George discovered what Zoe had been doing when he interrupted her, but still wanted a relationship with her.  Wade, meanwhile, would only grudgingly admit that they’d had “B-” sex and professed to no deep feelings whatsoever.

With Zoe taking the episode to decide what she wanted to do (which turned out to be continuing to have hot sex with Wade while waiting for George to fully recover from the break-up of his 15-year-long relationship), the emotional center of the hour turned out to be Lemon.  In what could end up being a smart move for the series, the idea seems to be for Lemon to start transforming from stereotypical Southern belle to a more substantial character, who here rejected her father’s help and took a job–albeit a sitcommy job as a waitress working for Wade.  Still, it’s something, and should give King more to do in future episodes than act alternately bitchy and insecure.

The other major development was the introduction of a potential buddy for Zoe, in the so-far recurring role of Ruby (Golden Brooks), a former Bluebell resident who founded a successful cosmetics business and is now back in town.  Her wrinkle is that she was the former and possibly future girlfriend of town Mayor Lavon Hayes (Cress Williams), who until now has been Zoe’s de facto BFF.

Hart of Dixie is… pleasant.  It’s sort of what Gilmore Girls would have been like if Amy Sherman-Palladino had never existed, sweet and sometimes charming and funny, but never particularly memorable.  Bilson is an engaging, charismatic lead, too often made to hit the same two or three beats over and over:  nostalgically longing for New York, looking like a fool in the face of some town humiliation before responding with spunky determination, and stuttering with longing for one of the show’s two guys.  It can only be to Hart‘s benefit if it can make Zoe into more of a rounded and believable human being.

It’s difficult to judge the success of any CW show that doesn’t have the word “Vampire” in its title, as most of the network’s series are crowded around the 0.4-0.5 level of rating.  Hart did well enough to be renewed (it didn’t hurt that its producers include Josh Schwartz, who gave the network Gossip Girl), and this season is being asked to open the night for the new Emily Owens MD, which features a similarly flighty young physician as its lead.  It seems unlikely that the numbers for Hart will be markedly more successful than they were in its first season; however, on the creative side it appears to be trying to take some helpful medical advice.


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."