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THE TV COLUMN

Grey’s Anatomy creator moves out of the ER

By Michael Storey

This article was published April 5, 2012 at 3:48 a.m.

— My first question was “When does Shonda Rhimes sleep?”

The prolific producer/ writer of Grey’s Anatomy and Private Practice has churned out another dramatic soaper. And — surprise — this one has nothing to do with doctors.

Scandal, debuting at 9:01 p.m. today on ABC, will have seven episodes in its midseason tryout to convince the network it’s ready for prime time.

I forecast an uphill battle.

The series stars Kerry Washington as Olivia Pope, the head of a Washingtonbased crisis-management firm “dedicated to protecting and defending the public images of the nation’s elite and keeping their secrets under wraps.”

ABC’s teaser line: “Everyone has secrets, but only Olivia Pope can make them go away.”

Maybe ABC feels that since the political season is heating up, audiences are ready for some juicy scandal.

Viewers might recognize the 35-year-old Washington as Ray Charles’ wife in Ray, or as Chelina Hall in Boston Legal. Perhaps more will have seen her as one of the models in the ubiquitous L’Oreal hair color commercials.

In Scandal, Washington really gets to be tough and sassy as a revered and feared former communications director to the president who left the White House to open a now-prominent crisis-management firm.

That would be gripping enough, but since this is another Rhimes series, much of the drama occurs behind the scenes with Olivia and her dysfunctional staff. They may be able to fix other people’s lives, but their own are frequently a mess.

In tonight’s premiere, “Sweet Baby,” young lawyer Quinn Perkins (Katie Lowes) is in awe when offered a job with Olivia Pope and Associates. Quinn is quickly initiated into the high-stakes business when a White House intern accuses the president of having an affair.

Yeah. Sure. Like that could ever happen.

The rest of the ensemble includes Henry Ian Cusick as Stephen Finch. He has dated his share of the ladies but is trying to settle down and have a family. Columbus Short is slick litigator Harrison Wright; Guillermo Diaz is the obligatory ace hacker Huck.

Darby Stanchfield plays investigator Abby Whelan, who has a continuing crush on Stephen.

I’m not saying that Scandal is a bad drama. It just didn’t have the wow factor that would make me want to add it to my DVR list. I’ll give it a couple of more episodes to change my mind, otherwise my 9 p.m. Thursday routine will remain unchanged — Mudcats on History Channel. Tonight’s the thrill-packed season finale.

Titanic time. It has been almost 100 years since the Titanic sank (April 15, 1912), so you can expect lots of TV stuff related to that event in coming days.

At 7 p.m. today on the Smithsonian Channel, Titanic’s Final Mystery asks why the ship hit the iceberg in the first place and why the ship closest to Titanic, the Californian, never came to its rescue.

Bones returning. Fox is bringing back Bones for an eighth season. The current season has just returned following a hiatus for star Emily Deschanel’s maternity leave.

The Bones spinoff, The Finder, will move to a new night and time — 7 p.m. beginning Friday.

Snakes alive. Cable’s Nat Geo Wild channel brings back Python Hunters at 9 p.m. Friday. Shawn Heflick, Greg Graziani and Michael Cole are again protecting the Everglades from invasive species such as Burmese pythons and monitor lizards.

This season they’ll also tackle vipers, bushmasters and fer-de-lances in Costa Rica and a 14-foot anaconda in the jungles of Peru, plus travel to Australia.

Benedictine life. The Oscar-nominated documentary short film God Is the Bigger Elvis debuts at 7 p.m. today on HBO. The film tells the tale of cloistered Benedictine life and of rising Hollywood star Dolores Hart (recipient of Elvis Presley’s first oncamera kiss in Loving You), who gave up her acting career at 23 to become a nun.

Already gone. In case you’re one of the few who were wondering, Fox has decided to yank the ratings-challenged I Hate My Teenage Daughter off the Tuesday night schedule and insert Raising Hope reruns. Teenage Daughter was averaging an anemic 2.9 million viewers.

Still, that was a hair better than Fox’s Breaking In at 8:30 on Tuesdays.

The TV Column appears Sunday, Tuesday and Thursday. E-mail:

mstorey@arkansasonline.com

Weekend, Pages 32 on 04/05/2012

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