Wednesday, April 11, 2012

SCANDAL: A VERY PROMISING START


So I finally watched the pilot of SCANDAL, the new drama from Shonda Rhimes. The series premiere was gripping, with a promise of a lot more to come. Here are my thoughts on what went down…

Olivia Pope… The opening scene of the series reveals just how big this name is. And then we go on to see how that is. Here is a woman who can walk into the Oval Office and greet the President just as confidently as she can pass orders to those who work under her. Here is a woman who can tell some of the most dangerous people in the country that the money she’s offering them is enough for an exchange and that it will be enough for them. Here is a woman who won’t take any nonsense from anyone. Yet, she is also a woman who will help her employee pick out an engagement ring to give to the woman he loves. She’s a woman who can convince a celebrated war veteran to come out of the closet, even though it goes against every view he’s publicly embraced. She is also a woman who puts up a strong front and ‘doesn’t believe in crying’, but can still have a weak, vulnerable moment about a love that she lost. Olivia Pope is just the kind of protagonist to be the backbone of a show that’s powerful, engrossing, and entertaining even. And still, she’s not all there is to SCANDAL.

When I first heard that Shonda Rhimes (GREY'S ANATOMY, PRIVATE PRACTICE) was making a show based on crisis management firm, and the woman behind it, I was firstly thrilled that there was going to be more from Rhimes (especially after OFF THE MAP got canceled). I would’ve watched the show anyway, being a fan of all her work till date; however, the premise itself sounded enticing and exciting, and different from a lot of other subjects covered on television. And after months (maybe over a year even), the wait ended. SCANDAL was here, and as I read up on the show, watched the promos and interviews, and learned more about what and whom it was based on, my curiosity and excitement grew. Hopes and expectations ran high, and I was not disappointed. From the packaging to the opening; the editing to the music; the dialogues to the performances… everything gripped me.

The show starts with a new employee who considers it a great honor to be working for Olivia Pope, yet struggles to understand Pope’s ruthless ways and how everyone just goes along with what she says. There’s a case that falls into their office—a celebrated war hero with political ambitions, who seeks their help in proving his innocence involving a murder. As always, the backdrop of the show involves the stories of each of the characters and the pilot manages to flesh it out well enough to let us know what they’re about, and still arouse our curiosity to know and watch more. Olivia Pope has baggage of her own, obviously (Rhimes’ leading ladies must be damaged in some way). But it’s good to see what the character has done with her baggage, and how she copes with it in a tough situation. Additionally, Kerry Washington does a fine job of playing Pope. (I’m sure she can be better, and I’m sure she will, once the more challenging parts arise.) And when the episode ends, the bomb that is dropped and the way it is delivered could even give you goose-bumps.

It’s a show that has a lot going for it: a fresh premise, a strong protagonist, an exciting pace, crisp storytelling, great visuals. Most of the other complementary must-haves—the background score, the editing, the transition shots, the sets, etc—add serious value to the entire experience. In parts, things did seem a little too far-fetched. And at times, it even seemed a little too convenient, with things just falling into place for Pope and her team, without too much of a struggle. However, if you can focus on what’s good (which is most of it), you could be in for an entertaining journey. I’ve already listed a number of reasons why this show deserves a solid chance. I may have only seen the pilot, but knowing what Rhimes is capable of, I foresee great things in SCANDAL's future.


What did you think of the SCANDAL pilot. Do share your views here...

3 comments:

  1. I agree with your review mostly though for me parts of the pilot were a little slow and sometimes things just fell in place way too conveniently but since it's a pilot I can let it slide. I think the show even if it not great and brilliant yet definitely has the potential to be thanks to Kerry Washington. She is a one man show and a super protagonist who was just brilliant. I would like to know a little more about the rest of her team as for me a strong supporting cast is equally important. Not a fantastic pilot but a strong start from Shonda. Loved seeing all the places that I had visited in DC too they really are as awesome as they look on TV. Also I think Shonda can't go for her staple quota of romance like Grey's and PP as after all this is the political hub of America and people can't afford to be as frivolous as in GA and PP. Inspite of that I would like to see where she takes the whole romance between Mr President and Olivia Pope. All in all like the show and definitely hoping it gets better with time. Also not a fan of them posting all the evidence on that make shift board, doesn't go with their whole image of gladiators in suits.

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  2. The best part about the pilot was the last line of Olivia Pope's dialogue. It promised a war that could have very terrible consequences for everybody involved. Agreed, that some things were a little far-fetched and a little too convenient but I guess we all need to start a little easy and wait for future episodes to unravel the more exciting and especially detonating parts of the story. I am obviously hopeful, just as you are, that Rhimes will make this one hell of an explosive show. fingers crossed.

    NB: Loved your post.

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  3. @wildcherry... I mostly agree with you on all you've mentioned. Although I know for a fact that Shonda is planning to have some steamy sequences and storylines, a la the on-call room in Grey's. I need to catch up and see how the show is building though. Also, I think the make-shift board is quite lame too. It seems unprofessional--something that college students would do. A plain and simple white board like they have in shows like Dexter and Castle would've been fine.

    @Perfect Imperfection... I agree about Pope's final line. It showed us just how big the 'scandal' factor can get. I'm looking forward to the "detonating" parts too (nicely put). I have high hopes for this show for sure.

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