by Julian Spivey
The sixth season of “Scandal,” delayed to the spring due to Kerry Washington’s pregnancy, premiered on Thursday, Jan. 26 with a predictable and fast-moving episode.
The season picks up on Election Night with First Lady and Republican candidate Mellie Grant (Bellamy Young) believing she is about to be elected the first female President of the United States, before being shocked by Frankie Vargas being the winner. This all happens before the title card is even displayed.
I think “Scandal” chose to blow through the Presidential campaign and election far too quickly, which was also my take on the end of the show’s fifth season. I would’ve liked to have seen the drama and action spread out at least over a few episodes – but that doesn’t appear to be the way things are done in Shondaland. There’s a good chance that Washington’s pregnancy delaying the season until the end of January led to creator Shonda Rhimes speeding up the process to time the premiere’s Election Night shocker with the inauguration.
The big shock of the Election Night episode “Survival of the Fittest” wasn’t that Mellie lost the election, but that Vargas was assassinated during his victory speech. Except if you’re a fan of “Scandal” it wasn’t really that shocking, but rather predictable. The “surprise” of Vargas’ Vice President pick Cyrus Beene (the always entertaining Jeff Perry) being the one to have Vargas knocked off was also too predictable. Sure, there was a thought that it may have been Olivia’s father Rowan Pope (the excellent Joe Morton), who’s in a battle for the ages with Cyrus for TV’s biggest villain, but the death of Vargas didn’t have much for him to gain.
The only real question about the death of President-elect Vargas is … who is the shooter? We know the man arrested for doing it is a patsy. But, the show gave a big clue that it might be Jake Ballard (Scott Foley), who mysteriously went missing right after the election results and showed back up instantly as the fake shooter was detained. The shooter could easily be Jake, but in typical “Scandal” fashion this could also be a MacGuffin.
The most interesting aspect of the season six premiere of “Scandal” was the choice President Fitzgerald Grant (Tony Goldwyn) had to make following the death of Vargas. Despite Vargas winning the election, the results would eventually come down to the Electoral College that didn’t necessarily have to go with Vargas’ VP choice. Fitz could’ve put in a good word for Mellie and gotten her the Presidency, as Attorney General David Rosen (Joshua Malina) said it would, but after being involved in fixed elections before Fitz was ready to make the right decision – despite not knowing he played right into Cyrus’ hand.
The only real question after the premiere of “Scandal” is can Olivia (Washington) and her team find a way to stop Cyrus from taking the oath of office, which should set up an interesting series of episodes down the road. I just felt like everything that happened in the premiere could’ve been seen from a mile away.
by Julian Spivey
“This Is Us” has been such a surprising hit out of the gates for NBC that the network made the rare decision to renew the show for not just a second season, but also a third on Wednesday, Jan. 18. Each season will feature at least 18 episodes.
President of NBC Entertainment Jennifer Salke told Deadline: “’This is Us’ is as good as anything we’ve ever had, we’re thrilled to renew it for two seasons and there’s no doubt it will have a long life at NBC.”
The show, which features a cast of Milo Ventimiglia, Mandy Moore, Sterling K. Brown, Justin Hartley and Chrissy Metz, is about two generations of the Pearson family and uniquely features two different timelines throughout the series.
“This Is Us” is no doubt one of the two or three best new dramas of the 2016-2017 network television season, and by far the buzziest. But, there’s one thing about the series that irrationally bugs the hell out of me and has since its debut was met with so much success and critical praise and it really has nothing to do with the show at all. This irrational irritant popped up again on Wednesday when the network decided to give the show two more seasons before its first even wrapped.
When “This Is Us” debuted the popular thing to do among critics was to compare the show to NBC’s previous realistic family drama “Parenthood,” which aired six seasons from 2010-2015. Other than being realistic portrayals of family life the two shows don’t hold many other similarities with “This Is Us” featuring two different timelines.
“Parenthood” was one of my all-time favorite TV dramas and while six seasons is a fantastic achievement for network television the show never really got the respect it deserved from NBC. Only half of its season received a full order of 18 or more episodes and the show was always seemingly on the chopping block come time for renewals and culminated in a final season where prices were cut so much for its survival that all the cast members had to appear in fewer episodes.
Fans of “Parenthood” were always on pins and needles come the spring when the fall schedules for the next season were announced and it was truly unfair for the network to do for such an amazing show.
“This Is Us” may become a classic TV drama, it’s too early to tell, but it’s kind of irritating to see the show get so much love from NBC when an arguably better series struggled so much and for so long just to survive. I understand it’s a ratings business and “This Is Us” first season is averaging more than twice the number of live viewers than the final season of “Parenthood” did two seasons ago, which is strange to me in general with the similarity of the two shows being family dramas, but it’s still something that draws a slight bit of jealousy from me.
“This Is Us” has been fantastic in its freshman season and I hope it continues to provide great entertainment, but “Parenthood” – I got your back.