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.