It’s Handled: Top Moments from ABC’s ‘Scandal’

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For the past six years, I’ve made it a point to never be busy at or around 9 p.m. on Thursday evenings. Whether rushing home from choir rehearsal; or, leaving a work event early, before the clock struck 8:59, I’d be positioned in front of a TV screen. Remote in one hand; a smart device in the other.

This weekly ritual centered around ABC’s culture-shifting political soap, Scandal. Being Shonda Rhimes’ second TV series after the successful Grey’s Anatomy, no one expected thunder would strike twice. The initial reception for the show was timid. It teetered on the edge of D.C. thriller (a la House of Cards), and soapy drama of Empire proportions. And if that wasn’t enough, its lead was an African American actress.

While Seattle Grace’s Meredith Grey became a feminist icon, a black woman leading a network drama was a different animal. An African American woman had not lead a drama series since Diahann Carroll’s nurse in Julia. And let Hollywood tell it, people wouldn’t be interested in a black show. But as Field of Dreams stated: if you build it, they will come.

Viewers – mainly black women – came in droves to witness and make history with the series. And in a single season, the synergy of twitter and television became live-tweeting. It tapped into a pulse of TV viewership totally unprecedented. Thus birthed ABC’s TGIT – the biggest must-see TV block since NBC’s Seinfeld- led comedy run in the 90s.

Six seasons later, the twisted tale of Olivia Pope and associates is coming to an end. April 19th the series finale will air, closing an astute chapter in television history. I’ve compiled my favorite moments – from legendary monologues to the ever-so annoying Fitz-infused lip quivers.

1. Amanda Tanner meets Olivia Pope

      1. The pilot introduced us to Washington D.C. crisis handler, Olivia Pope (Kerry Washington). Her first assignment – dismantling the rumors of an intern’s affair with the president. It was the first of many verbal assaults Olivia catapulted toward an adversary.

2. Meet Papa Pope

The end of season three finds Olivia possibly outed as President Grant’s mistress. As she thinks she has it all under control, her father – portrayed by the magnificent Joe Morton – arrives. He would have a series of memorable monologues, but this one ripped into Olivia’s from stem to stern.

3. Assassination, Attempted

Season two opened with a BANG. After discovering Fitz’s affair, Mellie is reluctant to play nice and attend a state dinner. We assume it’s because she knows what wicked this way comes. Fitz ignores her whining, and exits the limo to the press. Seconds later bullets ring out as he’s shot in the head.

4. Fitz with Blood on his Hands

As you may have guess, Fitz survived the assassination attempt. But when he finds out the who and why behind it, he flips his lid. To protect his legacy he silences the one person with the ammunition to bring him down. The bastard would later deliver the eulogy at his victim’s funeral.

5. Mellie’s Secret Pain

Just as Fitzgerald thought he had severed ties from his power-hungry wife, Olivia drops a bombshell in his lap. A pain Mellie kept hidden from her husband for years finally came to the surface. And like a woman, she swallowed it like it was nothing. This was before the MeToo movement and the call for Capitol Hill’s reform on sexual harassment in the workplace.

6. Liv and Fitz’s Closet Freak

Another staple of the series was the Cinemax-level sex scenes shared mostly between Olivia and her part-time lover Fitzgerald Grant. Here the two slip away from tumultuous situation in the White House to release some tension … in a computer server closet.

7. I Am Huck

In a stunning season two arc, we learn gladiator Huck’s backstory. Suffering througha mental episode, he shuts down verbally, only reciting three numbers. It’s Olivia who is able to reach him. We would later learn the tragedy Huck experienced at the hand of B6-13 years before joining Olivia’s team.

8. Jake kills James

Despite attempting to murder his lover before, Cyrus was never the same when James was killed. Jake acting on the call of Command takes James and two others out. I forget why but it was all to protect the Republic.

9. Quinn Vader

Billy Chambers was the main nemesis in the first two seasons. The conniving official was set to expose the Defiance, OH secret, bringing the administration down. Olivia and Command couldn’t have that. When Huck fails to finish the job, Quinn takes the reigns.

10. Sally’s Sin

In an alternate timeline, Hillary Clinton would have ascended to the Oval back in the 90s if it wasn’t for her philandering husband. Scandal played with this fan-fiction in the life of Sally Langston – a right-winged Christian conservative eyeing Grant’s incumbent seat. But when Cyrus threatens to expose the truth of her husband Daniel’s indiscretions, Sally snaps in a carnal moment.

11. Olivia Kidnapped

This storyline began the nadir of the series. Catapulted by Fitz’s jealous vice president, Olivia is kidnapped and held for ransom. The cost: the U.S. would have to declare war against a rather peaceful country, equaling a major payout for the VP. This had a sense of Cheney and Halliburton written all over it.

12. Olivia Gets Revenge

After the ordeal that was Olivia being held hostage, she struggled with extreme PTSD. Andrew returned hellbent on ruining Fitz’s life. As if being tortured by Charlie wasn’t enough, he pushed Olivia off the edge. She forever lost her White Hat when in a rage killed Andrew with a metal chair.

13. Mother Maya

For years Olivia believed her mother was deceased. A victim in a large-passenger plane crash overseas. But once she uncovered the truth of her father’s occupation, it wasn’t long before Olivia was reunited with her other parent. Turns out Maya didn’t die, nor was she a victim in the plane crash, but the perpetrator.

14. Fitz & Mellie Lose a Child

We witnessed the sinister depths Eli ventured to ruin the Grant family. None other was more cruel than the orchestrated murder of their son, all to swing sympathy toward Grant to win an election.

TV BYKE

This week marks the return of all the shows (ALL OF THE SHOWS *in my Rihanna voice*). 2018 began at a gradual pace of a show here (Star Trek Discovery) and there (This Is Us). But midway through January, new and returning shows are stampeding on my evenings. Let the games begin.

Monday – Tomorrow is the 2-hour season one finale of Fox’s surprise hit The Gifted. The battle between mutant and human intensifies as the Hellfire Club gains the Underground’s trust. Meanwhile Dr. Campbell convinced Jace in using his next stage in mutant manipulation – a machine that replicates the Strucker siblings’ powers.

Tuesday – This Is Us is in mid swing of its second season, but a new challenger at 9 p.m. will require my live viewing instead. The CW’s highly-anticipated Black Lightning series premieres. The first African American hero of the CW’s D.C. family features Cress Williams as the retired metahuman. When a violent gang threatens the livelihood of his family and neighborhood, he places the cape back on. And may received help from his two daughters as well. Black. Female. Heroines. On. TV. Sign me up.

Wednesday – Wednesday evening is a triple threat of entertainment. At 8 p.m. I play soap drama with the kids of Riverdale. Next I return to Filory as SyFy’s The Magicians entered its third season. Magic is no more for Quincy, Julia and friends. But a gallant quest may be the key – or seven – to restoring the magic in the world and beyond. Finally FX delivers Ryan Murphy’s second installment of American Crime Story. This time we revisit the murder of Gianni Versace, a crime I remember but definitely do not know the full story.

Thursday – TGIT returns with Liv and Annalise on their shows respectively. And as recently promised, their two worlds will collide when Scandal and How to Get Away with Murder crossover. Who wants more wine!?

Friday – Fridays are dedicated to ABC’s excellent fifth season of Agents of SHIELD. The team has been transported 80-some years into the future, where the Earth is nothing but a crater – remnants of a catastrophic Inhuman event. Coulson and the team are fighting  Kree as well as other forces of the galaxy.

Saturday – This still remains my catch up day – between apps and Hulu anything I miss will be devoured within these 24 hours.

Sunday – CBS is screwing the populace hiding the superb Star Trek: Discovery behind its $6 pay wall. The show is great for Trekkies and newbies alike, with an African American female lead in Sonequa Martin Green (The Walking Dead). In addition to Trek, Showtime via Hulu boasts The Chi. From Lena Waithe and Common is the multi-narrative portrait of Chicago lives.

This is the schedule as of now. Subject to change of course.

30for30: Day Nine

Marvel’s Agents of SHIELD | When the Marvel Cinematic Universe began, no one imagined how far its reach would stretch. Before the animated series and the Netflix sagas, ABC presented a little show that could with SHIELD. Anchored by Greg Kelly’s Agent Coulson, the weekly serial of the more mortal heroes told how everyday folk coped with aliens, superheroes and HYDRA. While it definitely crawled before it could walk, the series now runs as one of the best comic shows on TV.

Hollywood Shuffle | Robert Townsend’s satirical film on being a black actor in Hollywood opened in 1987. Thirty years later #OscarsSoWhite and other rallying cries for inclusion still ring like trumpets at the Battle of Jericho. The hilarious commentary on the industry’s color problem went virtually unnoticed then. They won’t ignore us today or tomorrow.

Return of 4Eva | Mississippi’s Big K.R.I.T. rattled the cage with his introductory debut KRIT Wuz Here. He followed up with the superior Return of 4Eva. Atop mostly self-produced beats, he flexed his skills as a lyricist on the glorious “R4 Theme Song.” Boasted on the trunk-banging “My Sub,” and touched hearts with the sentimental “The Vent.” One of my favorite projects of the last decade, K.R.I.T. remains one of the most underappreciated in the game. If you’re late, catch up on Oct. 27th as he drops his double album 4Eva is a Mighty Long Time.

30for30 – Day Seven & Eight

Ugly Betty | This hysterical American take on a Spanish telenovela packed as much heart as it did laughs. America Ferrera delivered as the spunky and determined Betty, who battled posh naysayers at Meade Publications. Before the devil wore Prada, she probably worked for Vanessa Williams’ Wilhemina Slater, the icy nemesis at Mode Magazine. Ugly Betty was a bright light of fun, inclusion and drama that lit my college years.

 

Heroes | Another gem during my college tenure. NBC’s venture into superheroes without the capes and spandex was an ambitious leap for network TV. And the first season was absolutely perfect. Enough mystery and grit with each character. And then there was the penultimate season finale, which paved the way for the rest of the series. Midway through season two, it lost its footing and struggled for three more seasons. Even its’ reboot a year or so ago was abysmal. But we’ll always have that extraordinary first season: save the cheerleader. save the world. 

 

Collateral | It’s rare I enjoy an action film that doesn’t involve comic characters, but this film peaked my interest. The same year Jamie Foxx dazzled the Academy with Ray, he and Tom Cruise irked out a gritty tale of true heroism. Cruise’s take as a cold-blooded hitman who enters Foxx’s cab during an evening of work is a sleek examination of human behavior. Pure good versus evil, and how the two are never that far apart.

 

Get Out | Yes, this movie just dropped this year. Yes, it may have had flaws. It wasn’t even an actual horror film, in the traditional sense. But Jordan Peele’s social examination of America’s living nightmare stuck a chord with everyone. Not only is it the highest-grossing film from a black director with an original screenplay, it has been an accelerant for the discussion of race in America.

 

Broke With Expensive Taste | How does one explain a problem like Azealia Banks. The NYC native is an insanely talented lyricist, singer and potentially actress. She’s bold artistically and has hits that stick like grits. But that boldness erodes any chance she ascends as hip-hop royalty. Instead her mouth is known more for feuding with the public than it is for spitting rhymes. Despite this her debut album is one of the best rap albums of the decade. Hands down.

 

B’Day | I was a casual fan of Beyoncé Giselle Knowles-Carter in 2006. I enjoyed “Crazy in Love” and mimicked the routine in “Baby Boy.” But I didn’t understand the direction of her sophomore LP. Not on first listen. Everything felt forced. It was loud and overbearing. Plus her eccentric performance of “Deja Vu” at the BET Awards that year had me Ray Charles to this era – until she dropped those videos. And one by one my defenses fell. I succumbed to the honey in her hive, hypnotized by “Upgrade U,” “Freakum Dress” and “Green Light.” While I still dodge “Irreplaceable” I no longer deny the moment Beyoncé leveled up before our eyes. Nothing was ever the same.

N.O.T.: Entertainment Last Night

Here at LorinHates “Entertainment Last Night” is my daily roundup of television. Instead of trying to piece together separate reviews for each show, I’ll summarize highs and lows of each evening. 

Sunday saw the premiere of Fox’s supernatural comedy Ghosted, HBO’s fourth entry of The Deuce and ABC’s Kyra Sedgwick-led Ten Days in the Valley. Unfortunately I’m an episdoe behind on The Deuce so that will have to wait until later this week.

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GHOSTED: L-R: Adam Scott and Craig Robinson in GHOSTED premiering this fall on FOX. ©2017 Fox Broadcasting Co. Cr: Scott Council/Fox

Continue reading N.O.T.: Entertainment Last Night

Hate Is A Strong Word: Marvel’s Inhumans (Spoilers)

INhumansI finally took the time to view the highly-anticipated, critically-panned premiere of Marvel’s Inhumans, a new comic series on ABC. The show compliments the MCU’s already established TV narrative about a race of beings with extraordinary abilities. Viewed as abnormal they reside on the moon under the reign of a king and queen. But when a coup ruptures their kingdom, the royal family is forced to flee to Earth.

Expectations were high for the series, as Marvel aimed to capitalize off their wildly popular cinematic and television universes. However their latest ventures – last year’s Iron Fist and this summer’s The Defenders – both failed to deliver on the same level as their predecessors.  And unfortunately, Inhumans has followed this downward trend.

Frankly it’s failure to launch after the success of ABC’s Agents of SHIELD was puzzling. Of course SHIELD had it’s own issues early on, but it seemed to fair much better even with the blemishes. And it has since become one of the better superhero shows on TV.

What’s wrong with Inhumans? A lot. But let me start with what I did enjoy. I love that they’re in Hawaii. The destination is vast and gorgeous; and, it specifically highlights a multitude of Hawaiian and Pacific Islanders actors. Something we don’t see everyday on TV or in film. I also enjoyed some of the fight scenes – specifically with Maximus’ diabolical right hand.

Speaking of Maximus he is pretty good in all his scenes, given he is the axis of the plot. I also enjoyed Karnak. These two along with Medusa delivered some of my favorite moments.

Now the bad:

  • The pacing for two episodes was not good.
    • There was no time to establish these new characters strong enough to care about them. A 10-minute stop-animation prologue to describe their history would have been great. And then we could have seen the familial bond among them and their people. Instead of rushing the coup at the end of episode one, they could have saved the betrayal as the cliffhanger in the second episdoe, making Maximus’ eventual turn more dramatic, unexpected.
  • Some scenes were so horribly acted/dramatized they became hilarious.
    • The opening scene with Triton was horrendous. The dialogue was elementary and his demise so early carried no emotional weight
    • The actress playing the princess is the weakest link in ALL her scenes. She’s giving high school theater and it’s uncomfortable
    • Gorgon’s encounter with the surfers felt incredibly tone deaf (thematically and racially) and added nothing to the story
    • Medusa’s scalping was unintentionally hilarious; where did Maximus find clippers?
    • The dynamic between the cop from Barbershop and Felicity Smoak’s doppelganger is incredibly basic and keenly sexist. Maybe it was suppose to be sexist but why? And how could he not believe in her theory when he lives in a world with Iron Man?
    • The Inhumans’ inconsistent knowledge of Earth made for some vast plot holes. Black Bolt doesn’t know what handcuffs are, but Medusa knows what a bus is. How have they examined Earth from a far and not know anything about its culture and/or customs?
    • There isn’t a single black woman or girl in Hawaii or in Attila. Why come we never can give a sister some play?

Those were my main gripes. I may give the third episode a chance (SHIELD did get it together) but I can’t promise anything. From initial thoughts, to the trailer, IMAX reviews and now the actual premiere, bad has been the constant synopsis. If this misfires, hopefully it fades as quietly as Black Bolt appears in all his scenes. If not we do have Netflix’s The Punisher, Hulu’s Runaways and Fox’s The Gifted to drown it out.