Kerry Washington as Olivia Pope
Henry Ian Cusick as Stephen Finch
Columbus Short as Harrison Wright
Guillermo Diaz as Huck
Darby Stanchfield as Abby Whelan
Katie Lowes as Quinn Perkins
Tony Goldwyn as Fitzgerald Grant
Jeff Perry as Cyrus Beene
Kate Burton as Sally Hewitt
Liza Weil as Julia Tannen
Joshua Malina as David
JoBeth Williams as TBA
Dirty Little Secrets
Hell Hath No Fury
Enemy Of The State
Crash & Burn
Grant: For The People
Scandal has a couple of unique distinctions about it. To start off with, it marks the first venture of Grey’s Anatomy and Private Practice creator Shonda Rhimes outside of the foray of medicine when it comes to television, and secondly, Scandal ranks among the rare and distinguished group of what I like to call “perfect pilots.” It takes a lot to get the very first episode of a series right, but Scandal has done it, and Scandal is going to leave you instantly wanting more.
I first saw the pilot for Scandal back in the early summer of 2011, when ABC announced that they had officially picked up the show, but before they had announced when it would air. Had I know I would be waiting almost exactly a year before the show would see the light of day, I would have made myself hold off on watching the episode because let me just tell you that seeing the first episode of a show that gets you hooked and leaves you wanting more and then having to wait an entire year to see what happens next… Well, it’s cruel and somewhat painful, but it’s exactly what happened when it came to Scandal. Yet, finally, the day is quickly approaching and on Thursday, April 5, Scandal will premiere and hopefully captivate millions of viewers nationwide.
The series centers around Olivia Pope, portrayed by the flawless Kerry Washington, and her team at Olivia Pope & Associates in Washington, DC. The team is made up of lawyers, but they don’t work at a law firm. Instead, Pope and her team make the problems of the rich, famous, and powerful disappear. But Olivia also has ties to the White House, having formerly been staffed there, and they are ties that keep her constantly drawn back to the action behind the scenes at the White House, including a connection to the President that may turn out to be more than just professional.
Thankfully, Washington, DC is nowhere short of secrets, and even though everything about Scandal‘s premise may scream “procedural” to you, Scandal is not your typical procedural. Interwoven with the “case of the week” are integral and fantastic character moments and a multitude of overarching story elements for all of the characters, which would seem to suggest that should Scandal be on the air long enough, it could come to out-grow its “case of the week” format altogether. Everything about the show is smart and sassy, from the dialogue right on down to the sets. The White House recreation for the show is so fantastic that you won’t have a hard time believing we’re watching the actual White House, and I had no problem being convinced that they were actually in Washington, DC the entire time.
The cast for the series could not have been chosen more perfectly. Kerry Washington plays Olivia with such a fierceness and intensity that you can’t help but to do anything but fall in love with her and be on her side when it comes to everything. Yet, despite that, Washington and Rhimes also wisely lets us see a more vulnerable side to Olivia, allowing us to sympathize and connect with our heroine. I’ve said it before, but I’ll say it again: she may just be among the most badass women on television, and she’s most certainly one of my new favorite television characters.
Henry Ian Cusick, whom many will know from Lost, takes on quite a different role here. I got the definite feel from the pilot that his character, Stephen, is, in a sense, Olivia’s best friend and right-hand man. He spends the first episode getting counseled on romance by Olivia, which leads to many a great scenes between the two. Darby Stanchfield’s Abby, however, would appear to have her heart set on Stephen as well (despite the fact that he is with somebody else), and though she doesn’t appear to have said anything to anybody about it (yet), it’s quite obvious what she wants from him. But more than that, Abby, as the team’s investigator, also gets some of the best quips in not only the pilot but all of the first three episodes I have seen, and it’s hard not to love her for them.
Columbus Short takes on the role of Harrison, who is seen at the beginning of the pilot recruiting Katie Lowes’ Quinn to come work at Olivia Pope & Associates in one of the most unorthodox interviews you’ll ever see on TV. It is Quinn’s first day of work that serves as the launching pad for Scandal, but don’t let that fool you: Quinn, just like the viewers, gets thrown right in to the action, and Scandal refuses to let up once it takes a hold of you.
And finally rounding out Olivia’s team is Huck, played by Weeds‘ Guillermo Diaz. He’s the team’s “hacker extraordinaire” who’s tough, yet sweet. All I can say is that I’m thrilled to have Guillermo back on my screen on a weekly basis. It’s always great to watch him, and I always end up loving his characters no matter what, so I couldn’t be more happy that he is a part of Scandal.
Over at the White House, we have Grey’s Anatomy‘s Jeff Perry playing Chief of Staff Cyrus Beene. He’s a tough character to peg down. Do we like him or do we not? Can we trust him or can we not? There’s something about him that doesn’t seem quite right, and yet, here he is anyway, aiding the President, as portrayed by Tony Goldwyn. It’s not hard to believe Goldwyn as the President of the United States. He fills the role fantastically – so fantastically, in fact, that it becomes difficult to figure out how to feel about his character as well. The whole time I was watching the pilot, I knew that there was no reason I should like this man. And, yet, I couldn’t help but feel for him and love him anyways. There’s something very charming about Goldwyn’s President Grant, and perhaps it’s that charm that helped me like his character in the end.
And we can’t stop talking about the cast without mentioning Liza Weil, whom many will know from her Gilmore Girls days. Though not officially billed as a series regular cast member, Weil plays a huge part in not only the pilot, but the series itself, as a former secretary of the White House that is harboring some dangerous secrets about the President – secrets she wants to let out. It’s a big departure from her Paris Gellar days, but it is fascinating to see her on the screen again, and not only that, but it is also fascinating to get a look inside the mind of someone who is doing what she does. How does one cope with telling the President’s secrets? How do you come to that decision? And how do you make peace with it?
It’s all tackled in Scandal. Olivia Pope says it herself when she states that “Dirty little secrets always come out.” The show is escapism in its purest form. While giving us a look into what goes on behind the scenes in Washington, we’re transported into a new world that’s not too different from our own, but just different enough that we can soak up all of the goodness it has to offer. The writing is top-notch, and the dialogue is fast and quippy. The characters are all smart and well-defined, and it isn’t hard to fall in love with a single one of them. But, and perhaps most importantly, the stories presented within Scandal grab you and don’t let go. They’re fresh and fascinating, and though some aspects of them may seem like they’ve been ripped from the headlines, they are presented in ways you never could have imagined.
At the time of the writing of this review, I’ve seen Scandal‘s pilot episode, entitled “Sweet Baby,” three times, as well as seen the two episodes that follow it once. Yet, I am still clamoring for more and can’t wait to see Scandal‘s pilot again when it finally airs on television on April 5 and I can finally share the extent of my love for this show with everyone else. The 2011-2012 television season has introduced a lot of great new series into the mix (I’m looking at you, Revenge), but throughout it all, Scandal has remained my favorite and most-loved new show of the season.
There’s a lot to love in Scandal, and I’m so excited for you all to be able to see it too. It’s been a long wait for the show to finally premiere, but the wait is finally almost over, and trust me, the wait has been well worth it. Get ready to get Scandalous. Thursday, April 5 at 10|9c only on ABC.
Reneehere: Gotta tell me about Shonda Rhimes' Scandal. It's got Desmond! Is it any good?
Henry Ian Cusick shall forever by my Constant. And yes, I've seen the first four episodes of Scandal and am totally obsessed! It gets crazy good after the first episode, so you do need to stick around past the premiere (April 5). As Shonda herself points out, the series is also not really very much like Grey's Anatomy or Private Practice but rather "a totally different animal. It's part of my evolution as a writer, hopefully. You just change as a writer as time goes on. It's very juicy. I hope that audiences think so, too." By the way, I'll be hosting a "Shondaland" event at the TV Academy soon, so make sure you fire away your burning Q's for Grey's, Private Practice and Scandal peeps to @kristindsantos (Twitter) or email@example.com (email).
Fantastic 1st episode. It kind of dragged a bit at the beginning but when it picked up, it really went full steam ahead. I have always liked Kerry Washington and look forward to seeing her every week *fingers crossed*.
I look back on my initial comment and think maybe it was a bit much because this show truly keeps getting better. I look forward to finding out more about the team. Quinn not existing until 2008 Huck a part of the C.I.A? Well that's not all that surprising but still I like that they are delving into the background of everyone. Poor Amanda, I knew something was going to happen to her at the end of the episode.
Such a great episode last night. I had a feeling from last week that Amanda's baby wasn't going to be the President's. Makes me wonder exactly who she was in cahoots with. Huck has become my absolute favorite character on the show but Cyrus has the most delicious lines. He plays the villain role perfectly.