April 6th, 2012
04:15 PM ET
Chances are, if you like Kerry Washington, "Grey's Anatomy," plot twists that involve politics and/or "gladiators in suits," you enjoyed ABC's premiere of "Scandal" on Thursday night.
Shonda Rhimes' latest effort moves away from the medical world of "Grey's" and "Private Practice" and into the realm of Washington D.C. -based crisis management, but "Scandal" nonetheless carries all of her trademarks. Rat-a-tat dialogue? Check. Damaged characters who work nonstop and refer to themselves as "not normal"? Check. A little romantic intrigue on the side? Check, and then some.
Rhimes' new one-hour drama introduces us to the incredibly well-dressed Olivia Pope (Washington), who runs a crisis management firm filled with lawyers who don't actually practice law.
We actually hear of Olivia's legendary status in the Beltway before we see her through the eyes of newbie Quinn Perkins (played by Katie Lowes), who's offered a job to join the team over drinks with the fast-talking Harrison Wright (Columbus Short).
"We’re the good guys," Harrison tells Quinn, "best job you’ll ever have. You’ll change lives, slay dragons… because Olivia Pope is as amazing as they say." And, reacting to a quip Quinn tossed out earlier, Harrison provides us with the quote of the night: "And I’m not a baby lawyer, I’m a gladiator in a suit."
The hour is consumed by the procedural-esque plot of a decorated war hero who seeks Olivia's firm's help after his girlfriend is shot, and a young woman who claims to have had an affair with the president. Olivia used to work for the pres, so she's tapped to handle the latter case while also working on the first.
But this wouldn't be a Rhimes show without personal drama, even for characters who, considering their work hours, should have no personal lives whatsoever.
Olivia is her associate Stephan's (Henry Ian Cusick) shoulder to whine on about whether or not he should get engaged, as the facial expressions of her other associate, Abby (Darby Stanchfield), convey that either something's already happened between her and Stephen, or it's going to.
We're told that "everyone in the office needs fixing," not the least of which being Olivia herself. In a well-played twist, it's revealed that our calm-under-pressure leader can crack like an egg...particularly when faced with a manipulative former lover, who just happens to be the president.
It's a fantastically soapy set-up, and it seems plenty of viewers bit: Entertainment Weekly reports that the premiere fared decently with 7.4 million tuning in.
The Huffington Post's Maureen Ryan says she's willing to tune in next week, as "Washington does a good job of carrying every story along in her energetic wake," not to mention that it's "a well-paced, generally well-acted show with some promising elements."
Clearly, the critics are feeling scandalous - how'd you like Rhimes' latest?
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