Pilot Reviews Scandal

Scandal 1×01 – Sweet Baby

"I'm not a baby lawyer. I'm a gladiator in a suit."


I’d been waiting for Scandal since the moment production was launched over a year ago. The premise of a crisis manager coupled with Shonda’s involvement as well as the talented Kerry Washington immediately intrigued me and so I watched this pilot with quite a bit of anticipation.

Now that I’ve seen it, I don’t think I’ve ever been this unsure over whether I liked a pilot or not.

On one hand, I undeniably enjoyed the hour and feel like I will stick with the show for a few episodes. On the other hand, I seriously hated how forced and gimmicky everything felt. My main concern is that it felt too much like Shonda took her Grey’s Anatomy template and applied it on to a different workplace setting. I know the quippy banter and the dramatic monologues are inherent to Shonda’s signature style but it was just so distracting and exposition-y. Did we really need so many people building up Olivia as some sort of God every time her name was uttered? We get it, she’s good. A well-made teaser could have easily conveyed that (instead of the horribly heavy-handed one we got with the new girl and her interviewer).

Kerry Washington is an interesting little thing. She’s talented and extremely charismatic, but she also straddles a very delicate line and can come off as quite pompous in some cases. I know that’s part of the character but I fear she might not remain very likeable in the long run (much like other Shonda heroines). As for her lackeys, I enjoyed Abby the most especially with her being very visilby in love with the now-engaged Stephan. I actually felt like I’ve known those two for a while which is an impressive accomplishment.

However, I absolutely hated the new girl who feels like she was forced into the show by the network in a bid to have a character the audience could relate to. She was nothing more than an exposition device and the actress has the charisma of a mop. I shudder at the thought of her having a pivotal role this season.

I think the pilot’s highlight for me was Olivia’s relationship with the President. It’s a gutsy choice by Shonda to be sure, and since I’m a sucker for long term story arcs I have a feeling I will love this one. Olivia’s scene with the President in the Oval Office was particularly compelling (and slightly creepy).

Ultimately, while I found Scandal‘s pilot to be quite flawed, there were enough enjoyable bits to ensure I’ll be sticking around for a few episodes before really passing judgement.

It’s all up in the air now.

Nad Rating


  1. Let me just say that i was coerced into writing this. Facial expression were used, name-calling employed, duress exercised.
    I sadly agree with most of what Nadim said. But that's WHY i loved the pilot. You don't watch Shonda shows to get West Wing-y or House-d or Dexter-ed, you watch them coz they're the slightly less embarrassing gossip girl. I loved the dialogue coz i'm a sucker for rapid-fire quips and self-conscious dramatic spins.
    My eyes rolled so much in their sockets at that fade-in/fade-out expositiony thing Olivia was doing before interrogating the soldier that they actually hurt afterwards. I got eye cramps. “We talk to the client”—YA DON'T SAY!
    I second your idea that if they had just opened with her negotiating getting the russian baby back, it would have spared us a lot of the worshiping at the altar of Olivia and a lot of the bad ass music.
    For me the highlight of the pilot was Abby and not O-LIPS-ia. The actress is so graceful, that i would have just settled for an entire pilot of watching her reading from a dictionary. She's awesome. I absolutely hated Desmond. Turns out the actor is pretty bland when he's not yelling PENNYYYYYYY!! And his friendship with Lips felt so forced. I'm neutral to the tech guy, which by itself should be considered a bad sign. As for the walking exposition device that is the clumsy girl whose name i shall never remember unless she does smthg gutsy soon, well that about says it all. Please don't insult mops, ok? Leave them out of this. They're just trying to take it one day at a time.
    On the other hand, the chemistry between Olipsia and the president is palpable. This could definitely go places. It allowed the hour to go from wooden/self righteous Olipsia to a more human version to whom the viewers can relate. Also, really? Making out in front of a window, right under a camera? Raise your hands and feet if you can just see the blackmail storyline coming a mile away.
    But, again, why is all this a bad thing? Guilty pleasures deserve trophies too. They succeed in areas less campy tv can never go. You watch them to not-think and forget the world for 42 minutes. We need more stuff like this. They're fun to watch, even more fun to trash.

  2. Hahahah Mario hilarious (except for the part about being coerced, I have no idea what you're talking about).
    My god that fade in/out scene was PAINFUL! Eye cramps indeed!
    But you know, I think you kind of convinced me! This was very good guilty pleasure television. I just wanted it to be a higher quality production so I guess that's why I was disappointed!
    OLIPSIA?!! Genius! I'm so glad I thought of it!
    Thanks for commenting. It was a delightful and unexpected surprise!

  3. Gossip Girl comment…. hurtfullll 😛 (I haven't bee tuning in but I find the Dair ship quite a draw – so I only watch their scenes)

    Seriously, her lips are something! O-lips-ia is right on! love it!

    I agree with Mario, needless to say. Guilty pleasure is right now, the only reason I watch TV. You get to live life vicariously, which is my only means to, ummm, living these days. Who doesn't wanna be a gladiator in a suit (though I prefer dress/snazzy outfits like the one LIPS was wearing).

    As for the characters… loved the vulnerability of Abby, ginger and tech guy were blah, Desmond is desmond with short hair – you just gotta love him regardless of whose name he's yelling out, and finally – the ultimate gladiator in a suit: loved him. That said, I am not surprised that the most kick ass characters on the show are black, as I think this is what Shonda set out to do.

    Back to va-gay-gays (studying about them, that is)

  4. HAHAHA brilliant. And WORD for that living vicariously comment. It's nicer to come home to Seattle or Mystic Falls or Chicago.
    and you might wanna spell your vajayjays with a jay. Yes, i know, the spelling would be off, but it's small price to pay. 😛
    Shonda always took pride in the fact that when she cast grey's, it was the only tv show in hollywood that didn't specify the color of the skin of the characters in the pilot draft. Do you think that's still her policy?

  5. You look like a vampire in your second account picture. Hot.
    Anyway, back to your point: Since i'm a black guy in certain areas of my life, i resent your accusations of racism. We are cool, deal wid it. (<--see?)

  6. By the Hammer of Thor! I am a man of honor! You can find photographic evidence on sites where it's ok to publish such things. And there are many.

  7. I didn't get how this infallible detective god was wrong about Mr President.. twice (herself and the supposed mistress) and this is only episode 1. Im curious as to how her gut instincts will work for her later on…

  8. Haha so true. The show gets SO much better Mo. Yalla watch and comment. You will fall in love with Olivia Pope and the gang.

  9. First time i watch the show.. maybe because it comes from shonda and after her huge success in Grey's anatomy we are expecting the same, so if i may say this pilot wasn't on the same expected level.
    It has some interesting and weird moments, it looks so fast in dealing with certain issues, the whole episode was about sally's murder it feels like olivia solved it in the last few minutes and convinced him to reveal his gay side..
    i loved the way that she claimed that amanda now is her client, that was an interesting opening part in the end that keeps us anxious to know what is gona happen in the next episode..

    Overall, i can't say that i loved the show so far, but i've found the pilot a bit interesting, that's why i'm gona watch the next episodes to see if i am gona be hooked!!

  10. You read my mind. I felt exactly the same way. She solved everything way too easily and they made her too much of a God. Nevertheless, please stick with the show because every episode keeps improving and by the end of the 7 episodes, you will utterly ADORE this show 🙂

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