Scandal: The Complete First Season (a J!-ENT DVD Review)
June 17, 2012 by Dennis Amith
Shonda Rhimes, creator of ABC drama hits such as “Grey’s Anatomy” and “Private Practice” is back with a new series, a political thriller known as “Scandal”. An enjoyable drama series with true potential, “Scandal: The Complete First Season” is recommended.
© 2012 ABC Studios. All Rights Reserved.
DVD TITLE: Scandal: The Complete First Season
DURATION: 7 Episodes (301 Minutes)
DVD INFORMATION: Color, English Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround, Widescreen (1:78:1) – Enhanced for 16×9 Television, Subtitles: English SDH, French, Spanish and Portuguese
COMPANY: ABC Studios
RATED: TV PG DLS
RELEASE DATE: June 12, 2012
Directed by Roxann Dawson
Written by Shonda Rhimes
Produced by Scott Collins, Merri D. Howard
Co-Producer: Chris Van Dusen, Heather Mitchell,
Executive Producer: Shonda Rhimes, Betsy Bears,
Co-Executive Producer: Judy Smith, Jenna Bans
Supervising Producer: Roxann Dawson
Music by Chad Fischer
Cinematography by Oliver Bokelberg
Edited by Gregory T. Evans, Matthew Ramsey
Casting by Linda Lowy, Will Stewart
Series Production Design by Corey Kaplan
Art Direction by Louise Dorton
Set Decoration by Mary Ann Biddle
Costume Design by Lyn Paolo
Kerry Washington as Olivia Pope
Henry Ian Cusick as Stephen Finch
Columbus Short as Harrison Wright
Darby Stanchfield as Abby Whelan
Katie Lowes as Quinn Perkins
Guillermo Diaz as Huck
Jeff Perry as Cyrus Beene
Tony Goldwyn as President Fizgerald Grant
Joshua Malina as David Rosen
Bellamy Young as Mellie Grant
Matt Letscher as Billy Chambers
Liza Weil as Amanda Tanner
Brenda Hines as Gideon Wallace
Kate Burton as Vice President Sally Langston
From the creator and executive producers of “Grey’s Anatomy” and “Private Practice” comes a drama revolving around the life and work of a professional crisis manager and her dysfunctional staff. A former media relations consultant to the President, Olivia Pope dedicates her life to protecting and defending the public images of America’s elite.After leaving the White House, the power consultant opened her own firm, hoping to start a new chapter ‐ both professionally and personally ‐‐ but she can’t seem to completely cut ties with her past. Slowly it becomes apparent that her staff, who
specialize in fixing the lives of other people, can’t quite fix the ones closest at hand ‐‐ their own.
In April 2012, “Grey’s Anatomy” and “Private Practice” creator and executive producer Shonda Rhimes would create another drama series titled “Scandal” and this time, instead of a medical drama, it would be Rhimes first political thriller.
For Rhimes, this is her fourth series, with the third, “Off the Map” (2011) being canceled in its first season. Fortunately for Rhimes, unlike other ABC drama series that began in Spring 2012, “Scandal” was among the few to be renewed and given a second season.
“Scandal” stars Kerry Washington (“The Last King of Scotland”, “Mr. and Mrs. Smith”, “Fantastic Four”) as the main protagonist Olivia Pope, who runs a crisis management firm, Pope & Associates. Olivia is the former White House Communications Director for President Fitzgerald Thomas Grant III (as portrayed by Tony Goldwyn, “Ghost”, “The Last Samurai”). A President that she happens to be having an affair with.
Known for her intellect and her ability to fix a crisis for the White House and major corporations, although her reputation is constantly on the line, she depends on her associates and employees to help her get the job done. Her staff includes Stephen Finch (as portrayed by Henry Ian Cusick, “Lost”, “Hitman”), a womanizer who can get any information that he needs; Harrison Wright (as portrayed by Columbus Short, “Stomp the Yard”, “Quarentine”) who is loyal to Olivia and is one of her key litigators and a person who tries to keep watch over the staff and lending his advice; Abby Whelan (as portrayed by Darby Stanchfield, “Jericho”), an investigator who is very loyal to Olivia for saving her life; Huck Finn (as portrayed by Guillermo Diaz, “Half Baked”, “The Terminal”), a hacker and former black ops who is a man with his inner demons given a second chance by Olivia and new employee Quinn Perkins (as portrayed by Katie Lowes, “Super 8″, “The Job”) who is trying to learn the ropes at Pope & Associates and how to stay on Olivia’s good side.
For the first season of “Scandal”, Pope & Associates have their hands full as they are taking on various clients that includes a decorated war veteran being accused of murder, a well-known DC madam who is trying to keep her clientele list private (especially since she serves many major players in Washington, D.C.) and defending a deceased pilot (representing her family) who is accused for a commercial plane crash that killed everyone onboard.
But the recurring storyline involves a White House intern who has accused President Fitzgerald Grant of having an affair. And when Olivia Pope and her associates defend the White House intern, the White House employees are going to do all it takes to protect the President and the administration from her client’s accusations. But how far will the White House go to stop Pope & Associates?
VIDEO & AUDIO:
“Scandal: The Complete First Season” is presented in Widescreen (1:78:1). For the most part, picture quality for “Scandal” is very good for DVD but as expected for a DVD release, you can see a bit of compression but nothing that would hurt your viewing of the film and for the most part, for most viewers, this is a non-issue for a DVD release.
“Scandal” is presented in English and French Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround Sound with subtitles in English, English SDH, French, Spanish and Portuguese. As a drama series, audio is primarily a dialogue-driven track with some use of scenery ambiance for surround channels. For the most part, audio is very appropriate for this style of series and dialogue is clear and understandable.
“Scandal: The Complete First Season” comes with the following special features:
- Scandal: Setting the Pace – (9:57) Interviews with Executive Producers Shonda Rhimes, Betsy Beers and Judy Smith talk about how “Scandal” was created and interviews with the cast of “Scandal”.
- Gladiators in Suits: Casting a Series – (6:26) A featurette with Executive Producers Shonda Rhimes and Betsy Beers talking about the casting of “Scandal” and a sneak peek at the cast’s audition tapes.
- Scripting Scandal – (7:31) A featurette with Executive Producers Shonda Rhimes and Betsy Beers talking about the writing process of “Scandal” and interviews with other writers on the show.
“Scandal: The Complete First Season” comes with a slipcover case.
I have always been fascinated with those who work in crisis management. Having gone to college and studying in mass communications and crisis management being taught as part of public relations, I would have never imagined a television series based on the field or in this case, based on a crisis management firm.
And when I heard that Shonda Rhimes and Betsy Beers, both known for their work on “Grey’s Anatomy” and “Private Practice” were working together on a new series, one thing that I have learned is that both women know television and know how to reach an audience.
Granted, “Off the Map” may have been thinking too far off the box for most viewers to enjoy (as that series dealt with a medical crew helping people in the middle of nowhere), “Scandal” is a bit unique as it doesn’t deal with medicine but deals with political intrigue and corruption, but no…there is no “24″ style Jack Bauer storyline when it comes to the President of the United States. This time, it’s a President who is accused of having a sexual affair with his White House intern, but to make things worse, he is having an affair with one of the most powerful women in Washington, D.C., Olivia Pope.
And what I love about Olivia Pope is that she is a strong female character on television, strong to her fellow associates, strong to her clients and everyone she works with, but deep inside, she is also human and does make mistakes. She may seem perfect, but like any person, she wants to be loved or find love…and this begins to cause fractures in her career. Not only is her mind cloudy because of her involvement with the President but because of this war between her firm vs. the White House, especially from the Chief of Staff, Cyrus Beene (as portrayed by Jeff Perry).
And while we have seen a lot of political corruption in a series such as “24″, corruption within the White House, there is no guns ablazing nor is Olivia Pope a woman armed with a gun. She is a woman of high intellect, who will do all it takes to represent her clients.
But with Cyrus, his main concern is protecting the President and eliminating the problem. Unfortunately, when murder is involved, the storyline then gets a bit darker and then we see a little of that “24″ style of violence, start to creep up in “Scandal”.
The series manages to incorporate the elements that made “Grey’s Anatomy” and “Private Practice. Each characters have their pros and cons but in the case of “Scandal”, there is also some over-the-top situations with every woman willing to give Stephen Finch the information he needs, if he gives them sex in return to Huck, who is like Jack Bauer of “24″ and extracting information through torture techniques. Suffice to say, these characters are fascinating. And while you do get to know a little bit about each staff member, unlike “Grey’s Anatomy” or “Private Practice” which incorporates a storyline involving many of its core cast members, for “Scandal”, the episodes rely heavily on Olivia or how the skills of the supporting characters helps Olivia.
And while I do feel that Kerry Washington does an amazing job in playing the role of Olivia Pope, part of the problem of having a shortened season is that character development takes a hit. Still, I do feel that “Scandal” takes more positive steps in becoming a fantastic political thriller and less missteps. The cast have good chemistry so far, but I do wonder how much are we going to get of this President who pretty much wants to do all he can to continue his affair with Olivia Pope and trying to find ways out of the White House to meet with Olivia was too over-the-top and corny in my opinion.
While “Scandal” was a mid-season replacement, unlike other series, it only had a seven-episode run. And because the ratings were good but not great for ABC, while renewed and given a second season, Shonda Rhimes has said that a second season will be 13 episodes or less. I did enjoy this series, but there are only so many stories that can be focused on Olivia but I am confident that Shonda Rhimees has a lot planned for season two. We have seen her work her magic on the first season of “Grey’s Anatomy” and it’ll be interesting what she has cooked up for season 2.
Overall, “Scandal: The Complete First Season” was an enjoyable “short” first season and I can only hope that pricing for this DVD set, ABC takes into consideration that it is shorter than other ABC drama series in terms of season duration and will be sold for a much cheaper price.
For anyone wanting to watch a political thriller with potential, “Scandal: The Complete First Season” is recommended.
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