When last we saw Rachel Bilson with any sort of regularity, it was as Summer Roberts in “The O.C.” But that was four years ago. Since then she’s bounced around with guest starring gigs on “Chuck” and “How I Met Your Mother.” But nothing long-term. With her new series “Hart of Dixie,” Bilson will have somewhere to stay, at least for a little while.
The show follows Dr. Zoe Hart (Bilson) in a classic “fish out of water” story. When her seemingly predetermined personal and professional life in Manhattan falls apart, she is left floundering. But due to the beneficence of a mysterious stranger, she ends up co-owning a medical practice in the most rural of rural towns, Bluebell, Alabama.
The rest of the pilot involves Bilson evaluating her decision to move to the Deep South and rankling a few locals along the way. And then there’s a medical case she must attend to. Of course it wouldn’t be a CW show without romantic conundrum involving cute boys like George Tucker (Scott Porter) and Wade Kinsella (Wilson Bethel), both of whom fancy Hart but have issues.
So will it succeed?
The CW is at its best when it creates a fantasy for women 12-25. It works with “Gossip Girl,” “90210” and “The Vampire Diaries.” “Hart of Dixie” is no different. Fans don’t tune in for the acting, which is lacking on “Hart of Dixie” (except Nancy Travis, who sadly won’t extend beyond the second episode). They tune in for the story, the characters and the romance. And in that, “Hart of Dixie” is right in The CW’s wheelhouse.
That said, there are parts of “Hart of Dixie” that need addressing. The pace lags at certain points. And some of the characters, sometimes even Bilson, are more like caricatures.
Will “Hart of Dixie” be a roaring success for The CW? Probably not. But it’s got enough going for it with Bilson, a reasonable concept and a crew of attractive 20-somethings that CW fans gravitate toward.