Fans of ABC's Nashville caught a lucky break when CMT picked the series up following its initial cancellation. The show's future was up in the air too long for comfort for those who were dying for a resolution to the big Season 4 finale cliffhanger, so news that it would have a new home on a new network was definitely welcome. Still, fans shouldn't expect the show to look the same when Season 5 debuts in January. Some key changes will happen to the country music drama.
One of the biggest changes will be the fact that the stories per episode will actually be much shorter. New showrunners Marshall Herskovitz and Ed Zwick decided that what the series really needed was more time for the music. Fewer pages of each script means that the songs and dances will be able to play out for longer each week and add a grander sense of scale to the Nashville music scene. It makes sense that the move from ABC to a network originally based on country music would shift some of the focus away from plot and onto performances.
Another major change will be the focus of the plots that do make it into each episode. Marshall Herskovitz went on in a chat with TVLine to explain that Season 5 will be more about the characters and the complexities of their relationships than about crazy plot twists and "Gotcha!" moments. There may be a lot less craziness next season.
Season 5 will expand to explore more music styles than ever before as well. Joseph David-Jones has been cast as a new character whose music is modern and eclectic, which should be a major departure from what some fans have some to expect of Nashville. Combined with the departures of two Season 4 regulars and the rumored exit of female lead Connie Britton, the show may end up going in a very different direction.
Luckily, Hayden Panettiere and Jonathan Jackson will be reprising their roles as Juliette and Avery, so we don't have to worry that Season 5 won't resolve the killer cliffhanger. The final moments of Season 4 revealed to Avery that Juliette's plane had sent out a distress signal and then disappeared. The Nashville crew actually filmed another (and much happier) ending for Season 4, but they went with the cliffhanger in the hopes that the show would be renewed. They got their extra season, and we'll get to see just what happened to Juliette at the end of Season 4.
Unfortunately, we still have a while to wait before Nashville makes its CMT debut. The Season 5 premiere will be a two-hour event that airs on Thursday, January 5 at 9 p.m. ET on CMT. Hulu will have episodes available for streaming the next day. Check out our fall TV schedule to see what you can watch during the wait for Nashville Season 5.