WASHINGTON, January 24, 2013 —With a seemingly endless parade of D.C. controversies constantly before us, it’s no wonder that ABC’s Scandal is steadily picking up new viewers. The last four original-episode airings have been among this program’s best, winning the Thursday night 10 p.m. time slot in the process. This victory is especially notable because Scandal’s primary rival, Elementary, follows on the heels of a strong CBS line-up that also includes The Big Bang Theory, Two and a Half Men and Person of Interest.
What’s also encouraging is that Scandal marks a major improvement over junk like American Idol (again airing tonight) and the increasingly drab and dreary tribe of its fellow so-called “reality shows” we jumped on in yesterday’s edition of this column.
Scandal’s protagonist is Olivia Pope, (played by Kerry Washington) a Washington “fixer” called upon to do damage control when one of the nation’s elite figures faces a potential public scandal. (Sound familiar?) The program is loosely based on the career of former President George Bush’s press aide Judy Smith who serves (surprise!) as a co-executive producer of Scandal. There’s no doubt her contribution helps bring a distinct and believable level of authenticity to the show, likely confirming every cynical opinion Americans currently have when it comes their elected leaders in Washington.
Which brings us back to the show itself. Olivia Pope is a former White House Communications Director who has left to start her own crisis management firm, Olivia Pope and Associates. The members of her staff have all benefited themselves from her unique fixer skills in the past. This makes them extremely dedicated and loyal employees, something rare in today’s dog-eat-dog political environment in the Washington of today.
The result of this spicy combo of politics and personnel is an intelligent political drama that deserves a wider audience. With so many dumb and dumber reality shows airing in primetime, the lines between art and life have become blurry in recent years. At least Scandal admits it is fictional drama, all the while adding a little fuel to the fire of American discontent with life inside the beltway. There’s certainly nothing new about that. But making all of this entertaining is what really makes Scandal worth watching.
All times are EST:
ABC: Last Resort: (New) A brutal battle for control leaves the Colorado vulnerable to capture by a third party with a manipulative plan.
CBS: The Big Bang Theory: (Repeat) Sheldon’s relationship with Stephen Hawking is
threatened over a game of “Words with Friends,” and Penny secretly enrolls in a
FOX: American Idol: (New) Auditions continue in Baton Rouge in the search for the next superstar.
NBC: 30 Rock: (New) As her new kids arrive, Liz scrambles to save TGS from cancellation; Jack finds a new NBC president.
CW: Vampire Diaries: (New) Jeremy is furious when Klaus tries to control him by putting Matt’s life in danger. Damon coaches Jeremy as he prepares to take on Klaus’ new vampires, but they find that Kol (guest star Nathaniel Buzolic) has beaten them to it.
CBS: Two and a Half Men: (Repeat) Alan and Lyndsey decide to spice things up in the bedroom.
NBC: Parks and Recreation: (New) Leslie and April work as trash collectors to prove a point about gender in city government. Meanwhile, Ron has his hands full while he baby-sits Diane’s kids.
ABC: Grey’s Anatomy: (New) A new doctor at Seattle Grace puts others on edge; Arizona struggles with phantom limb pain; Meredith is faced with her worst fear.
CBS: Person of Interest: (Repeat) A cold case leads Reese closer to finding Finch and his kidnapper.
FOX: Glee: (New) The girls of the glee club organize a Sadie Hawkins dance.
NBC: The Office: (New) Dwight tries to stop Darryl’s defection; Erin and Pete use Facebook to boost sales.
CW: Beauty and the Beast: (New) Vincent (Jay Ryan) barely escapes being caught by his former fiancée, Alex (guest star Bridget Regan) and must deal with the repercussions of his past. While Cat (Kristin Kreuk) is in the hospital, she is forced to confront her feelings for Vincent.
NBC: 1600 Penn: (New) Skip bonds with Becca’s baby daddy; Emily gets into a protocol showdown.
ABC: Scandal: (Repeat) As Gideon looks into Amanda’s past, Olivia and Fitz’s start on the campaign trail is revisited.
CBS: Elementary: (Repeat) Sherlock assists with a double homicide that has the same M.O. as a series of murders that took place 13 years ago
NBC: Rock Center With Brian Williams: (New) In a rare in-depth television interview, Gen. Martin Dempsey, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, discusses the lessons learned from the Petraeus scandal. Dempsey tells Rock Center Special Correspondent Ted Koppel that the scandal has made him reevaluate how he examines both competence and character within the ranks.
New episodes of:
The First 48: Missing Persons at 9 p.m. on A&E
The Millionaire Matchmaker at 9 p.m. on BRAVO
Mysteries at the Museum at 9 p.m. on Travel Channel
Anger Management at 9:30 p.m. on FX
Beyond Scared Straight at 10 p.m. on A&E
Kathy at 10 p.m. on BRAVO
Property Wars at 10 and 10:30 p.m. on DSC
Sweet Genius at 10 p.m. on Food Channel
Archer at 10 p.m. on FX
Buckwild at 10 p.m. on MTV
What Not to Wear at 10 p.m. on TLC
For movie lovers:
There’s Something About Mary on AMC
Made in America on CINEMAX
Ghostbusters II on ENC
Sex, Lies and Videotape on FLIX
Reign of Fire on FMC
Road to Morocco on TCM
The Last Legion on IFC
This Means War on HBO
The Sitter on MOMAX
Resevoir Dogs on SHO
Zookeeper on STARZ
Resident Evil on Syfy
Dead Again at 9:40 p.m. on FLIX
Contraband at 10 p.m. on HBO
Reversal of Fortune at 10:15 p.m. on SUND