SCANDAL Double Take: Courtney K and Amrie kind-of, sort-of, agree

Courtney K’s Take:

“I’m not a baby lawyer. I’m a Gladiator in a suit.”

And with that, my eyebrow is raised. That’s a terrific line.

Set in the D.C. area, SCANDAL involves a team of those “Gladiators in suits” who deal in backroom negotiations specifically to “solve problems”. Those problems involve everything from kidnapping, murder, sex scandals; you name it. All the unsavory antics of the movers and shakers in the political scene. The members of Olivia Pope & Associates are fixers with consciences. They want the truth and they also have a handy knack of keeping all of it out of the public eye.  A mix of public relations experts, investigators, a tech wiz and master manipulators, you never want to be on the business end of their conversations; you want to be their client. Sort of like HOUSE; as much as I find his character’s core to be prickly, if I get sick, take me to Dr. House and I mean now!

In the pilot episode, Olivia Pope states “I have one rule, do not lie. If you lie, all bets are off.” And I instantly like her. She’s brash, she’s put together and when she speaks, there is a level of conviction that a character who is going to do some unsavory things needs to still be likeable on a law drama. Her gut instinct is not to be reckoned with. She’s got it and I’m buying it!

There’s a lot of discussion in the show of white hat vs. black hat. But just like life, truly they all are wearing gray. The storylines skirt along that blurred line separating the law and what’s right.

The cast is legit. All solid actors who haven’t really had the limelight to themselves. Kerry Washington plays Olivia Pope, she leads the show and the team of rag-tags; Henry Ian Cusick, Columbus Short, Darby Stanchfield, Guillermo Diaz and Katie Lowes are along for the ride as her trusted team.

As a fan of THE WEST WING and LIE TO ME; I enjoyed watching SCANDAL. The pace is lightening fast along with the dialogue, which appeals to the Gilmore Girl fan in me.  Premiering after a new GREY’S ANATOMY on ABC (tonight 10/9c), SCANDAL provides the missing element to ABC’s Thursday nights; the dirty underbelly of politics. I’ll be watching it for sure!

Amrie’s Take:

I don’t know yet what it is about SCANDAL that has me putting it into the “give it a second look but I don’t quite love it yet” column. Right off the bat, Kerry Washington slays it as Olivia Pope, and I’m immediately drawn to her strength and power, wanting to be just like her in the face of enemies and adversaries. The supporting cast features a few of my personal favorites – Henry Ian Cusick is lovely, Guillermo Diaz is always at the top of my “give this guy a show” list. Guest stars like Michael Cassidy and Brendan Hines are around every corner, and another personal favorite, Liza Weil, is amazing.  It should also be noted that Tony Goldwyn and Jeff Perry are KILLING IT as the President and Chief of Staff.

It comes back to the question: What is it, then, that is holding me back?  I like the writing.  I like the idea, that this team of negotiators and scandal cover-uppers/fixers, are out to, in their own way, make the world a little safer for important people in the public eye.  This is something we haven’t seen too much of in the past, and unlike HOUSE OF LIES on Showtime that is about doing something sort of related to managing possible crises, this show spells it out for us (possibly too much in the way of exposition) and so we’re left with little to no doubt about what they’re doing.  They talk fast.  Really fast, which I can appreciate because on more than one occasion I’ve gotten the hey, hold up, slow it down look from colleagues and friends. It just feels like it needs some sharpening up around the edges for me to get on board completely.

Under the surface, this feels like a great show trying to bust out from a mediocre start, and I anticipate being along for however long the ride is.  I just hope that viewers flock to this Shonda show much like they did for GREY’S and NOT like they didn’t for that other show most recently associated with Shondaland (OFF THE MAP, which she didn’t write/create, so that should help).  Oh and fan favorite Josh Malina shows up every episode to play the strong arm of the law that Olivia walks all over – so that’s always something to look forward to!

What about you – are you watching?  Amrie had the chance to be on a conference call with the supporting cast of the show last week – while her recorder crapped out about 13 minutes in, our good friends from TVEquals have the video here.