Case Number 26553: Small Claims Court

HART OF DIXIE: THE COMPLETE SECOND SEASON

Warner Bros. // 2013 // 929 Minutes // Not Rated
Reviewed by Judge P.S. Colbert // November 8th, 2013

The Case

Having survived the most ill-fated television wedding day this side of the mass murder-fest that closed the fifth season of Dynasty, New York City transplant Dr. Zoe Hart (Rachel Bilson, L!fe Happens) and her Bible Belt neighbors are back for twenty two episodes of Hart Of Dixie: The Complete Second Season:

* "I Fall To Pieces"
* "Always On My Mind"
* "If It Makes You Happy"
* "Suspicious Minds"
* "Walkin' After Midnight"
* "I Walk The Line"
* "Baby, Don't Get Hooked On Me"
* "Achy Breaky Hearts"
* "Sparks Fly"
* "Blue Christmas"
* "Old Alabama"
* "Islands In The Stream"
* "Lovesick Blues"
* "Take Me Home, Country Roads"
* "The Gambler"
* "Where I Lead Me"
* "We Are Never Getting Back Together"
* "Why Don't We Get Drunk"
* "This Kiss"
* "If Tomorrow Never Comes"
* "I'm Moving On"
* "On The Road Again"

Though they're not necessarily to be taken literally, these titles (the perfect mix of classic and contemporary hits for a CD called Now That's What I Call Country-Pop Lite Favorites!) provide a pretty good litmus test for the uninitiated: if any handful of the songs listed above set your fingers to snapping and your toes to tapping, you're more than likely to find the mythical town of Bluebell, Alabama a nice place to visit.

This is the piquant sort of community where freshly squeezed lemonade seems to grow in cut-glass pitchers; where the debutantes doll up like meringues for the annual "Founder's Day Parade" in antebellum styled gowns with matching parasols. 'Round these parts, good buddies blow off steam in scenery-destroying bar room brawls, but you know what? The buddies always seem bounce back like Weebles, as does the scenery, which gets put right the next day, when the entire community pitches in to clean up -- after sharing a good chuckle or two over the whole incident, that is.

These folks tend to go gaga for Grits, Gumbo cook-offs, and gossip about the principal characters of the series -- young hot bodies that are constantly coupling and uncoupling with each other, a-whoopin' and a-hollerin' when they're happy, and drinking tumblers full of whiskey when they're sad, but you know what? All of that booze -- not to mention the French fries, crullers, and pecan pies they regularly devour -- never seems to affect their livers, their waistlines, or their complexions. (Heck -- black eyes, split lips and bloody noses heal overnight, why should junk food have any effect?!)

You've never met such an adolescent bunch of legal adults. No fooling; this crowd are all about leering, sneering, pulling faces, doing double-takes, and taking so many comic prat-falls that I'm wondering if any of 'em actually have bones. You name the slapstick tactic, and the good rabble of BlueBell will oblige.

And could someone please explain to me how young, ambitious Dr. Zoe Hart (an eerily talented Thoracic surgeon, mind you) expects to get these genteel rural folks to respect and take her seriously when she's constantly making her way across town in short shorts and stiletto heels? Call me sexist if you want to, but you'll only be shooting the messenger. As far as I know, Daisy Dukes (custom-tailored or not) and f-me pumps are considered business attire in one profession only.

Unremittingly soapy and silly, Hart Of Dixie has nevertheless won me over by means of some strange and powerful lure I'm at a loss to explain. The scripts are full of forehead-slapping dialog and developments, and after conducting a fairly exhaustive two season search, I've found no evidence of reality in a single moment of the big, bright and colorful goings on. Yet, series creator Leila Gerstein (Gossip Girl) made a very wise decision to broaden and develop some of the first season's more odious and one-dimensional characters during their sophomore year; none more so than Lemon Breeland (Jaime King, Sin City).

The daughter of Zoe's uncooperative and ultra-competitive partner, Dr. Brick Breeland (Tim Matheson, Wolf Lake), and the fiancée of handsome attorney George Tucker (Scott Porter, The Good Guy), the apple of Zoe's eye, the icily beautiful blond Lemon seemed designed specifically to checkmate Dr. Hart at every turn. Instead, events turned drastically against Ms. Breeland at the end of last season, when torrential rain ruined two wedding sites before George canceled the nuptials, due to his growing feelings for the new doctor in town. Oh, the heartbreak! Oh, the betrayal! Oh, the humiliation!

A lesser series would have gone the conventional route, with a jilted bride fixated on feelings of humiliation and betrayal, thus inciting her to become more vengeful than ever. I don't want to give the game away here, but suffice to say that Lemon's second season trajectory takes her in different and altogether unexpected directions.

Again, a lesser series would have made an instant hash out of this situation, causing its loyal fans to throw up their hands in disgust, and tune out permanently. Instead, the shrewd guidance of Ms. Gerstein and company behind the scenes, combined with Ms. King's perfectly tuned performance result in one of the most interesting (and believable) character transformations I've ever seen.

Similarly successful transfusions of humanity breathe life into Dr. Brick and -- almost on par with Lemon -- Wade Kinsella (Wilson Bethel, Wyatt Earp's Revenge), Zoe's stud muffin neighbor, constant irritant, and occasionally, the recipient of her drunken booty calls. While Bethel could easily ascend to the sex-symbol stratosphere by virtue of his shirtless body and raffish grin, the show-runners have smiled upon him, and the young, buff actor more than rises to the task.

Plainly put, Season One was a damned good start, and Hart Of Dixie: The Complete Second Season is a damned sight better than that. Though it didn't end with a cliff-hanger, the final episode (which incidentally features a cameo from hot Country music group Gloriana) had me positively itching to find out what happens next -- What more can a season-ender hope for?

From start to finish, Warner Brothers has done a fine job on transferring the season to disc; the optics are clear, crisp, and faithfully deliver the lushness of the surroundings to home screens. On the other hand, I hoped for a little more oomph from the set's audio, which is kitted out with Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround. Oh, it's functional enough, but especially considering the show's near-constant musical accompaniment, I mainly found myself wondering why it wasn't done on a standard stereo track, considering the output. English SDH and French subtitles are available, but that's all she wrote -- unlike the first season set, this one features nary an extra.

I've no idea how Hart Of Dixie goes down with folks in the Cotton State, but I suspect its main appeal is to metro-sapiens like myself, who enjoy a little deep southern flavor as long as it doesn't mean having to endure the heat, the bugs and the politics that go with it.

The Verdict

Not guilty.

Review content copyright © 2013 P.S. Colbert; Site layout and review format copyright © 1998 - 2014 HipClick Designs LLC

Scales of Justice
Judgment: 90

Perp Profile
Studio: Warner Bros.
Video Formats:
* 1.78:1 Anamorphic

Audio Formats:
* Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround (English)

Subtitles:
* English (SDH)
* French

Running Time: 929 Minutes
Release Year: 2013
MPAA Rating: Not Rated

Distinguishing Marks
* None

Accomplices
* IMDb
http://us.imdb.com/title/tt1832979/combined