Scandal

Scandal

This show gets a lot of notoriety in the blogosphere.  It is a thing known that there are many of folk who are not happy with mainstreaming the side chick concept.  To be frank I’m not happy with that either, but that’s not the reason why this column is being cut.  As huge movie connoisseur I have to extend proper courtesy to this show, so this is going to be an actual review.  As a matter of fact ladies, I going to give you the ability to push your man to watch this show.  That’s right girl scouts, you will have the ability to make men like this show after reading this.  Being that I watched season 1-2, I’m going to go over a few characters, visuals, sound, you get the picture.

The first thing I’ll ask of you is to look past the side chick shit.  While I am far from signing up for the side chick cheerleader team, I’m going to have to ask you fellas to stop worrying about the side chick element of the show.  While it is a fact that this is a part of Olivia Pope’s inherent character flaws, it is woefully nowhere near being the overwhelming theme that drives the show.  There’s more to this show than a cheating president and a side chick.  It’s not about her fucking, it’s about her team solving problems.  On top of that note, it’s a good show.  Hell I’ve been intrigued with this whole fixer deal since Madeliene White (Jodie Foster) showed up as the “fixer” on the 2006 movie Inside Man.

There’s also more to Olivia Pope.  Kerry Washington plays Olivia Pope, a very cerebral woman who tries her hardest to be the good guy.  She believes in her “we wear the white hat” philosophy so much that she tends to wear white a lot.  She’s the leader of the pack and when she activates her team she doesn’t like being questioned.  Pretty much, her team is hand-picked and they are all bound by loyalty being that she saved their lives in various ways.  If anyone has an eye for psychology, she is a big fan of projection when she’s dealing with other women’s heartbreak and pain.  You can completely see her picking at her own emotional wounds when she’s telling women to not bother with a man placing you in holding patterns.  While a few of her actions are deplorable she is a totally redeemable character.  I suggest we cut her some slack.

Tony Goldwyn plays President Grant.  The last two times I saw this guy, he was taking either sheets of glass (Ghost) or swords (The Last Samurai) to his torso for his crimes, so it’s good to see him not playing a villain for once.  President Grant exists in the Scandal universe as a Republican, which makes his character even more interesting that he doesn’t play into any Republican tropes or cliches.  In fact, frequently he’s found subverting and defying most if not all of notions that are associated with team GOP.  His vice-president however, is another story.  His emotionally counterfeit First Lady doesn’t make things better either.  Boy this guy is just surrounded by crazy women, isn’t he?

His Chief of Staff Cyrus Beene may very well be the best reason to watch this show.  A political insider who serves to protect the president, Cyrus owns the greatest monologues, meltdowns and rants in the series.  Cyrus is the total badass that by make of the story, trained Olivia Pope to be as good as she is at power brokering.  The one difference between the two of them is that while Pope tries HARD to be the good guy in all situations she finds herself, Cyrus really doesn’t care for such things.  He is immensely loyal to the president and serves largely to keep the president in check — that means saving the pussy-whipped president from his own stupidity.  Watch the show and through his rants, meltdowns and monologues you will see him own, son, father, destroy everyone that threatens the Oval Office.  You couldn’t ask for a better character.  I see no reason how this guy cannot be a favorite menace.  If he doesn’t become a favorite…

I’m a soldier. Technically, we are soldiers, we served our country. But nobody gets to know that, there’s no parade, there are no medals. So we come home and we try to have normal lives.  But what is normal? I really, really like killing people. It’s… beautiful. Right? They taught us to love it and they took it away and they left us with… ~ Huck

While I never cared for the appropriation in the use of the term gladiator in the show, Olivia’s team is what makes the show what it is.  Yes, you read that correctly; it’s not the affair and love triangles, it’s her team that makes the show.  While the well dressed lawyer can cram her out of a jam and her fiery redhead investigator’s radical honesty keeps her in check, it’s her black ops ex-spook character that steals the show.  Huck (Guillermo Diaz) is a Jason Bourne-style assassin who is also a man of few words, naturally.  In season one you find this silent yet disturbed fellow reporting to Pope in Parade Rest position, which is a clear indicator of military conditioning.  As the series progresses, more of Huck’s story is told.  Huck is practically a retired badass who is still sharp enough to identify and neutralize other parallel-trained threats. When he says “my world, my rules,” you know it’s about to get real.  Huck’s character completely defies secret agent cliches left and right: He’s not calm and cool, like James Bond.  He doesn’t have the mythological resilience of Jack Bauer. And he’s not good looking like Jason Bourne.  Huck is short, talks in a disturbing near-stuttering whisper, and you get a good sense that he’s been though some psychological trauma and he just may be clinically insane.  This is a sharp contrast in comparison to his freelance counterpart Charlie who is quite calm and nonchalant, and petty enough raid your fridge and steal a sip of soda from a home he infiltrates.  In addition to other characters that will frequently give you the “hey it’s that guy!” feeling, the cast selection is amazing.

I’ll have to admit that I’m a big fan of the show’s scene transitions.  Scandal uses a signature “camera shutter” scene transition that they also use when introducing a new character or plot.  It would zoom in or out, frame-by-frame animate people, etc.  It may annoy people, it doesn’t here because I haven’t seen a show become that creative with scene transitions since 24’s use of the comic book multi-window.  In addition to that, the show makes great use of foreground/background play.  This is more of a photography thing, but in in filming this show they would intentionally FOCUS THROUGH BEVELED GLASS to illustrate litigation, mitigation, power plays, and other points of dramatic dialogue.  The beveled glass focusing seeks to intensify the drama in scenes, but it can get quite corny if you are in stop-clock mode and you realize there’s no such glass to be looking through, the Oval Office for starters.  The music selection is pretty hip, and always fit the bill.  The show will always cue to the right music backdrop when Pope’s team begins data-grinding.  As far as storylines and plots go, there’s a LOT of shit that goes on all at once that will of course, totally break your suspension of belief if you are in stop-clock mode paying attention to details like that.  But this isn’t the first time a T.V. show had forever winding and twisting plots; in 24 we dealt with eight years (or days?) of oncoming terrorist plots being “fixed” by Jack Bauer, with many seasons having MULTIPLE ongoing, winding twisting terror plots in the course of a single day.  So I imagine that if you like Jack Bauer, you’ll like Scandal.

Overall I’ll have to rule this as a damn good show, despite the incredibly rare situations the characters find themselves.  If a fellow get’s wrapped up in not watching this show because of the side chick deal, I’ll just let you know here that you are missing out on the fun.

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