Thursday, September 27, 2012

'Scandal' Premiere Review - 2.01 White Hats Off

        On the premiere of ABC's Scandal, Quinn's identity is revealed and the team realize she could be their biggest scandal yet; a senator seeks Olivia's help when his personal life is about to become a public diagrace; and Mellie and Cyrus put President Fitz in a very compromising position during a live television interview.

        When this show debuted last April, I really enjoyed it even though it was primarily a fantastic lead performance surrounded by non-distinct supporting characters. As the series grew, some characters really broke out and others were still void of personality but were watchable. As the show enters its second season, it no longer quite feels like just the Kerry Washington show but more of an ensemble - even though Washington is still the most engaging character and the best performance.
        This series' first season really benefited from only producing seven episodes. It allowed for a great overarching story with believable twists at the end of each episode while still keeping some procedural roots in each episode. Season two is starting off with a 13 episode order, so I am a bit cautious as to whether or not they can maintain the mystery for that long. Additional episodes for the season could also be ordered if the show truly breaks out. This show works really well following the cable model of episodes but I could also see it working on a standard broadcast network schedule. Only time will tell if it succeeds or not.
        This premiere was weirdly structured in that it felt like three distinct stories that never really overlapped but just existed in the same area of time - Quinn's trial, the scandal with the senator, and the president's issues with Sudan. Each had about the same amount of time given to it with a bit more emphasis on the Quinn trial - and I'm not quite sure it was executed as well as it could have been. The senator scandal felt tacked on as a story that would start and end in the episode and to keep the people busy.
        The way this show delves into politics is different than anything else on television because they do it as more of a soapy story. The main foundation of the political story in this episode was pure introductory to what that cast of characters will be doing throughout this season. None of it was bad but it was more about the exposition so we can have great amounts of quality later. I am exciting by the story but I do want to see more from it before coming to a firm conclusion.
        I loved how quickly the premiere addresses the Quinn mystery as well as how swiftly it resolves it. That was by far the most engaging of the three stories as it involved the most main characters and dealt with several issues that will shape the thirteen episodes of season two. Quinn's trial easily could have been stretched out to last several episodes but they made the decision to have it start and conclude in the span of one. Now, instead of the trial taking up most of the time for the serial elements, we will see how many characters will react to the non-guilty verdict. The reaction is probably were the better dramatic material is so it should be interesting to see how the story develops from here. Quinn was my least favorite character from the season one because she just stood out too much in her naivety from the rest of the Olivia's associates. That writing also didn't give Katie Lowes a whole to play with as a developing character. I won't say that I'm surprised here but I definitely liked her better in the premiere than anything from last season. The scene in jail where she wants to change lawyers did a great job of showing her range and I hope the writers will play with that some more.

So what did everyone think of the premiere? Was that closing scene one of the biggest shocking teasers ever? Share your thoughts in the comments.