Thursday, April 5, 2012

Self-Important 'Scandal' Isn't Worth Staying Up Late For


Darby Stanchfield, Kerry Washington and Henry Ian Cusick
Star in ABC's "Scandal."

What is it with ABC and one word titles for TV shows? Since fall of 2011, we have had “Suburgatory,” “Revenge,” and “Missing.” Sometimes the network likes to add the word “the” to the title including “The Chew,” “The Revolution,” “The Bachelor,” “The Bachelorette” and “The River,” but they aren’t fooling us. Tonight, April 5 marks the debut on the latest one word wonder, “Scandal” which sounds more exciting than it really is.
Boasting that it is from the creators of “Grey’s Anatomy” and “Private Practice,” (as if that is a good thing), “Scandal” is a soapy mess. Unlike the similarly titled, “Revenge” which is known for its’ camp, “Scandal” is much too serious for its’ own good.
Kerry Washington plays Olivia Pope, an incredible spin doctor who protects the public images of our great country’s elite including the president of the United States, Fitzgerald Grant (Tony Goldwyn). However, she won’t just protect anyone. They have to be honest with her. She expects them to look her in the eyes and not lie. She apparently has a super-human ability to known when someone is lying just by looking at them. Uh-huh.
In this line of work, it is considered a real honor to work under such a powerful woman. Quinn Perkins (Katie Lowes) is the new recruit to have this honor, but doesn’t receive much help on her first day in the office. Somehow, trying to figure out her daily duties is part of her job description. Her new co-workers are no help. They are too busy working on their appearance and looking important.
Olivia’s staff isn’t without their faults though. First, there is good-looking Stephen Finch, (Henry Ian Cusick). He has had his share of women, but he is trying to settle down and start a family. However, he isn’t sure if he really is in love with the woman he is dating. In the pilot, he debates if he should propose to her or not. He’s not sure if he can be faithful to her. Quite the dilemma. Good thing he works for a knowledgeable person like Olivia to help him make up his mind. Then there is Abby Whelan (Darby Stanchfield), an annoying investigator who is hopelessly and obviously in love with Stephen but no one in the office can tell. Olivia herself is trying to get over a secret love affair. (Apparently her lying detecting skills didn’t work so well when dating the married man!) Oh, and they are all helping someone wanted for murder with literally blood on his hands.
“Scandal” is weak in so many ways. None of the characters can be taken seriously nor are any of them very likeable to even care about them. It is just the latest example of “fuzzy integrity” where one character fights to do the “right” thing while doing the “wrong” thing at the same time. The pilot’s big reveal is supposed to be shocking, but you see how it’s going to end a mile away. In fact, just about everything in the episode is predictable. Like its’ sibling shows, it is bound to show extended scenes of characters moping around and somehow the writers will figure out a way for one of the characters to be flown to Seattle to be treated by the “Grey’s Anatomy” staff in a future crossover episode.
All in all, for a show with so much soap, you end up feeling pretty dirty. However, if you choose to watch the show, you can catch it on Thursdays at 10:00 p.m. on ABC.

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