Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Thursdays Will Be Shondays With Viola Davis and HOW TO GET AWAY WITH MURDER

Viola Davis in How to Get Away with Murder
Since TV producer Shonda Rhimes has enjoyed a great deal of success with Grey's Anatomy, her take on the classic medical drama, and her soapy, shocking political series Scandal, there will be a lot of eyes on her third show headed to ABC in the fall.

This one, given the incendiary name How to Get Away With Murder, stars Viola Davis, a crackerjack actress who happens to share my birthday, as a defense lawyer and law professor who doesn't mind a little dirty dealing, obfuscating or lying to get her clients out of jail. Davis isn't just a fabulous actress -- she's a two-time Oscar nominee (for The Help and Doubt) and a two-time Tony winner (for Fences and King Hedley II) who will bring major chops to ShondaLand.

ABC has released the trailer for How to Get Away With Murder, which looks just as dishy and delicious as Rhimes' other shows, even if it bears no resemblance to any law school I've ever seen. In the trailer, Davis's Annalise Keating* tells her students that she will not be teaching theory, but instead, how to act like a real criminal defense attorney, in court, from the get-go. That's the exact opposite of what we were told on the first day of my law school, but no matter. Perhaps Keating's Middletown University Law School is built differently.

She goes on to say that her criminal law class will be built around the use of three courtroom strategies: Discredit witnesses, introduce a new suspect, and bury the evidence. Those are all things real lawyers do, but not under those names (impeaching witnesses, alternate theories of the crime and motions to suppress sound a bit more realistic), not in every case and not with what appears to be Keating's cheerful disregard of illegal searches, privacy, perjury and obstruction of justice issues. If she's really going to depend on this "discredit, introduce and bury" thing every week, I'd say it will get boring quickly. But I doubt that will really happen. I've seen Scandal and how quickly it devolved into international conspiracies and bombs and assassinations and things that are well beyond the scope of a fixer like Olivia Pope.

As How to Get Away With Murder begins, we see both university and courtroom settings, cheerleaders and a bonfire, some suspicious goings-on, a little sex to liven things up, and some sort of murder plot that involves Keating as more than just legal counsel. Alfie Enoch, who has appeared in Harry Potter movies, plays Wes, the most fresh-faced and naive among the law students, while Jack Falahee from the Twisted TV series and Aja Naomi King, who has been in Black Box and Emily Owens M.D., seem to be the more savvy (or possibly sleazy) 1Ls in Keating's class.

ABC is giving How to Get Away With Murder a prime Thursday slot, moving Grey's Anatomy to 7 pm (Central time), followed by Scandal at 8, and this newest Shonda entry at 9.  All of which will make for a very Shondalicious Thursday night on ABC.

*The imdb listing says she's Annalise DeWitt, but Davis clearly says "Keating" in the trailer. Recent name change? Boo boo? I went with the trailer, in any event.

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