With Breaking Bad over and fall well upon us, it’s time for network TV that doesn’t make you think very hard. That’s supposedly what summer is for, but I think we have to be realistic about our expectations for broadcast television — The Wire isn’t walking through that door at the CW, so an amusing, diverting show filled with ridiculous accents and the occasional alligator is what we have when we’re not watching Boardwalk Empire or Community.
If you spend a lot of time watching the best cable dramas, shows that are willing to deviate a little from classic TV structure, Hart of Dixie may be striking in just how conventional it is. In this second episode, Zoey is faced with her season-long challenge (bring in 30% of the doctor’s office’s revenue or be bought out by Brick) and conflicting episodic tasks (ingratiate herself with the townspeople by helping build a float for a parade; keep Breeland niece Betty’s M.S. secret). Rose, the town’s teenaged blogger, gets a small story about how to catch the eye of a boy from school and Lemon and Lavon have a tense phone call that makes sure we don’t forget their secret affair. That, more or less, is your episode.
If you’re an overthinker like me, you might complain that the way the parade/M.S. stories resolve was too over-the-top for Zoey to believably be able to overcome down the line. (She crashes the parade so that she can rescue Betty from a float before people realize that she has collapsed due to her M.S., but she cannot, of course, tell anyone why she ruined the festive occasion.) This isn’t a show that rewards overthinking, though. If you’re willing to just run with it, to chuckle at Wade’s so-Dixie “come on, girl” to Zoey, at Zoey’s “we don’t get ticks in New York just like you don’t get movies not made by Michael Bay here” dig, or at the fact that the local po’ boy shop (the Rammer Jammer) looks exactly like Merlotte’s in True Blood, then you can pleasantly snooze away the hour nestled in the comforting glow of a CW small-town drama. No meth, ricin, and melting people in acid here.