Tune up the guitars and warm up your vocal cords, because Nashville is officially heading back into the studio for a fifth season. CMT announced today that it will become the show’s new home after ABC dimmed the lights and shut off the sound mixers at the end of Season 4. New episodes of Yahoo TV’s favorite guilty pleasure — and one of the all-time “Best Bad Shows” — will debut on CMT and then stream on Hulu the next day. (Lionsgate, CMT, Hulu, and ABC Studios are all partners in this next season.) The announcement will be made public in the titular city later today, with Charles Esten and other cast members on hand to thank fans for welcoming Rayna, Deacon, Maddie, Gunnar, Scarlett, and Juliette (we hope…) back to the small screen.
As previously reported, thirtysomething duo Marshall Herskovitz and Ed Zwick will assume showrunning duties from Dee Johnson for the planned fifth year. And, guys, here are some of the ground rules we hope you’ll set for the show’s return.
1. Bring Juliette Back to Terra Firma
The series finale — make that season finale — ended on the discordant note of Juliette’s Nashville-bound plane getting lost in the skies while estranged lover Avery waited patiently on the ground with their daughter. As funny as it is to imagine a Lost/Nashville crossover — where Juliette ends up on the Mystery Island that’s now under the protection of Hurley — let’s resolve that loose end as quickly as possible. Preferably in the happiest way possible.
Related: 5 Things ‘Nashville’ Is Doing Right
2. Make Maddie Less Mad
We’re all in favor of Maddie continuing to explore her independence, but last season’s overwrought emancipation storyline too often made her come across as clueless at best and selfish at worst. She’s a teenager, so rebellion is inevitable, but let’s try to keep said rebellion less contrived.
3. Spring Teddy From Prison
Rayna’s former husband and Nashville’s former mayor has done his time, and deserves to be back in the regular cast mix. Maybe he can finally tell us who has been in charge of the town since he’s been in the slammer!
4. Prepare for the Next Generation
Earlier this year, Yahoo TV’s own Ken Tucker presented a compelling pitch for a revamped version of Nashville that focused more on the town’s younger generation, while Rayna, Deacon, and Luke graduated to Hall of Fame status. It’s pretty clear that the show’s marquee stars aren’t going anywhere (at least not yet), but Zwick and Herskovitz might want to think about laying the groundwork for the possible day when Scarlett, Gunnar, Avery, and Will take over the spotlight full-time.
5. Dial Back the Pop Star Stunt Casting
It’s one thing to have actual country musicians passing through the fictional Nashville. It’s quite another to find a reason for Christina Aguilera or Elton John to make a pit stop. Now that Nashville is on the country music-focused CMT rather than the broad-based ABC, that kind of naked ratings stunt no longer seems as essential. Although if Tay-Tay calls, we completely understand if Herskovitz and Zwick feel compelled to answer.