Midseason report card: ‘Scandal’ season 3 delivers with Kerry Washington, but shockers

Take a look -There are two separate ways that you can look at “Scandal“: A thoroughly entertaining primetime drama about big government, messy situations, and fierce Gladiators doing what they can to solve problems, or a somewhat cheesy and over-the-top caper that doesn’t try that hard to make things realistic.

We imagine, though, that most of the people who see the show as the latter are the same sort of people who go to the movies and tell their pals what happens in the final minutes just when you start to buy your concessions. It’s just great escapism TV at its finest, and while we wouldn’t say that it’s a top 5 program on TV, it knows what it is and how to deliver what viewers want week in and week out.

The shining stars – Just take a look at Kerry Washington. Or Jeff Perry. Or Bellamy Young. These three in particular knocked it out of the park throughout most of the season 3 week after week. We cared about their characters, even when we weren’t too happy with their actions.

Also, let’s talk twists: From Maya Lewis being alive to her being a villain, the show constantly surprised us. Also, what about Rowan losing control of B6-13, or Quinn joining the other side? All of these were big moments, and we’d argue that nobody is better than Shonda Rhimes at delivering these sort of jaw-on-the-ground TV surprises.

What needs work – The only major complaint that we’d have with “Scandal” sometimes is that it doesn’t know whether or not to be a procedural or a serial, and we spend way too much time trying to figure out if certain stories are supposed to matter, or if it’s just a story of the week or a story of a few weeks. One great example of this is the guest arc from Lisa Kudrow, which was strong but not something that we felt really needed to be there.  This is ultimately a show that really needs to be between 13-16 episodes a season to make it as fantastic as possible, but we know that ABC’s not going to do that. The only reason that it’s only running 18 this year is because of Kerry Washington’s pregnancy.

Overall – If you don’t like “Scandal,” then this season so far did very little to change your mind. However, if you already liked it, you probably like it more now. There was hope for Olivia and Fitz, great new twists, and a situation so messy now with Olivia’s mom that we don’t know how the fixer is going to be able to fix it. Grade: B+.

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Photo: ABC

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