ABC's Scandal, a new drama by Shonda Rhimes (Grey's Anatomy, Private Practice) premiered last night with "Sweet Baby." Quinn Perkins (Katie Lowes, Easy Money, Super 8) gets a job working for her hero, Olivia Pope (Kerry Washington, Boston Legal, Ray), and has to jump right in. That's because Olivia is currently jugging two cases. In the first, the firm defends an American military hero, Sully St. James (Wes Brown, Heart of Dixie, True Blood), who looks guilty of murdering his gal. Secondly, U.S. President Fitzgerald Grant (Tony Goldwyn, Ghost, Law & Order: Criminal Intent) asks Olivia to make Julia Tannen (Lisa Weil, Gilmore Girls), who claims she is having an affair with Grant, go away.
This is not Grey's Anatomy all over again. For those who claim Private Practice and, especially, Off the Map are just retreads of Rhimes's popular series, Scandal is something completely different. For one thing, there's only one new kid on the block. For another, it's in crisis management, not medicine, so the setting will involve more than just one building. There are antagonists, not diseases. It is doubtful everyone in this office will hook up. And there are clear political views trumpeted, such as that homosexuality should be accepted. Not that that should be political, but currently, it is.
That isn't to say that there aren't some similarities. Grey's Anatomy and Scandal both boast career-driven, strong personalities willing to go above and beyond the demands of a normal job. The characters in both shows live and breathe their work, and are very good at what they do. Both examine an elite group of professionals who are tasked with being above their peers, the heads of their fields. And both are highly entertaining pieces of drama.
Olivia Pope does not run a law firm. Yes, lawyers work there, but they are in the game of crisis management, which means that they are only concerned about their clients. They don't go to trials, though one supposes that they might, at some point, since that option is available. But for now, all their work and research is put into just making a problem go away, which viewers quickly learn, they are extremely good at doing.