Former 'Unit' star Scott Foley is on his second military role and second Shonda Rhimes series. He is beginning a stint as a possible love interest for Olivia (Kerry Washington).(Photo: Ron Tom, ABC)
(USA TODAY) -- A presidential assassination attempt. A suspect's torture by the U.S.
government. A rigged election. And now, the president as a killer.
Any of those plot points could consume a TV series, but ABC's torrid Scandal (Thursday, 10 ET/PT) has hit them all in less than three months.
shocked all the time," says Kerry Washington, who plays Olivia Pope,
the brilliant, flawed heroine at the center of the political drama from Grey's Anatomy creator
Shonda Rhimes. During one recent twist-filled cast script reading,
which revealed the president's killing of a Supreme Court justice, "we
felt like our world was falling apart as we were reading it. It's really
Olivia oversees a team of operatives skilled in every
kind of fixing, from political to criminal, but there are elements of
her own life, such as her love affair with the married president,
Fitzgerald Grant (Tony Goldwyn), and her involvement with the rigging of
a presidential election, that don't offer an easy fix.
human. The great thing about her is that she's not perfect. She's not
this magical character who walks into a room and fixes everything all
the time, including her own life," Washington says.
whirlwind of action, the complicated Olivia-Fitz relationship is "so
much the backbone, the emotional core of what the show is based on,"
executive producer Betsy Beers says. "From the first episode, there was
this incredibly intense relationship at the center ... an impossible
relationship. ... Every single person, it affects and has involved
either directly or indirectly. It's touched everything."
Viewers appear to be responding to Scandal's
personal and political intrigue. In its first full season, it is up 6%
in viewers (averaging 8.4 million) and 19% in advertiser-prized young
adults over an abbreviated, seven-episode premiere last spring that
featured no lower-rated reruns. Its six most-watched episodes have come
in the past seven first-run airings.
Scandal also is
drawing a substantial social-media following, encouraged by ABC's
marketing efforts and the dedication of the cast, Rhimes and others
involved with the show, who live-tweet each episode. Momentum picked up
after the presidential assassination attempt in late November,
facilitated by the network's creation of customized hashtags, such as
The Feb. 7 episode, in which the president kills a
Supreme Court justice to prevent her from confessing to the bid-rigging
and assassination attempt, generated more than 350,000 tweets and was
Thursday's most-talked-about show on Twitter, according to the network.
Throughout the evening, a number of trending topics were Scandal-related.
are starting to tout their series' social standings. And the industry
considers social-media activity to carry a number of benefits. They
include drawing the interest of those who may be new to the show and,
with live-tweeting, encouraging live viewing in an era when so much is
watched at a later time, says Marla Provencio, ABC's executive vice
president of marketing.
"To be able to have a conversation live
and in real time, that's what appointment television is all about," she
says. "It makes you feel you need to be there to engage in that
Bill Keveney, USA TODAY