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Scandal: The Complete Second Season
DVD Released: 9/3/2013
All Ratings out of
Review by Mike Long, Posted on 9/5/2013
You don't have to have watched a lot of American television to see that certain types of shows are repeated over and over again. Namely, shows dealing with police officers, private detectives, doctors, and lawyers have dominated the airwaves for decades and there's no end in sight, as each season we get a new batch of imitators. In the past, we've had a few shows which attempted to combine these genres -- we've seen several where doctors solved crimes. However, few have thrown everything into the blender in the way that Scandal does. The show may not be everything to everyone, but it certainly tries.
Scandal focuses on Olivia Pope (Kerry Washington), a woman who once stood at the right hand of the President of the United States, Fitzgerald "Fitz" Grant (Tony Goldwyn). However, the two became romantically entangled and Olivia left for her own good. She then formed Olivia Pope and Associates, a group of lawyers and some specialty employees who are "fixers" -- that is, they will help to solve the problems of those who can't get help from the authorities. Working the Harrison Wright (Columbus Short), Abby Whelan (Darby Stanchfield), Stephen Finch (Henry Ian Cusick) and Huck (Guillermo Diaz), Olivia and her group aren't afraid to ruffle feathers to see justice done, and she often goes toe-to-toes with U.S. Attorney David Rosen (Joshua Malina). With all of this going on, Olivia must deal with the fact that President Grant, who is married to Mellie (Bellamy Young), is still pursuing her. As Season One opened, Olivia brought a new employee, Quinn Perkins (Katie Lowes), on board. The season's cliffhanger dealt with the fact that Quinn was not who she appeared to be.
The first season of Scandal arrived very late in the programming season and run for just seven episodes. This show, from Grey's Anatomy creator Shonda Rhimers, was clearly trying to find its footing. The first few episodes implied that along with Olivia's ongoing romantic issues from the past, the show would focus on the "case of the week". But, then a story arc emerged over the last few episodes and the mystery surrounding Quinn came out of nowhere.
Season Two opens by delving into Quinn's past. While this is interesting, it seems somewhat random at first, but it then leads into a storyline which will encompass the entire season. At this point, it's difficult to write about Season Two of Scandal without fear of giving too much away. I can say that several people are sitting on a secret which not only effects the White House, but the entire country and Olivia is decidedly a part of this. Despite the fact that Mellie is pregnant and there's always some crisis which needs his attention, Fitz still pines for Olivia and refuses to let her go. The team continues to take on the random case here and there, but most of the season focuses on the one central plot.
Again, the brief first season of Scandal was interesting, but it was nothing truly special save for the fact that it tried to combine a lawyer show, a private detective show, and a very soapy soap all in one. However, the show really comes into its own in Season Two. With shows like The X-Files and Supernatural, I was more impressed by the episodes which focused on an individual story as compared to the massive story arcs they attempted. However, Scandal shows that this can be done well. The attempt of having a single story which encompasses most of a season works because the writers start with one small revelation and then add something new every week. Say what you will about Scandal, the show is very adept at throwing twists and turns at the audience and it's never dull. Every time we think we are caught up and have the story figured up, a new wrinkle is introduced. The show also brings all of the main characters into this story, showing that everyone has a dark side.
While this story is branching out, the show expands on the characters as well. While everyone here is a stereotype in one way or another, Season Two takes the time to explore each character, especially Olivia's team, in some way which lets us get to know them better. Taking a cue from shows likeLost, Scandal never shies away from a flashback episode to show how the characters became who they are today. Several of these deal with Olivia, as we watch how her relationship with Fitz turned from professional to romantic.
My only complaint about Season Two of Scandal is that it has trouble picking a tone at times. The parts which concern the scandals and the teams attempts to solve them are very well done. However, the show can get too soapy at times, mostly when it deals with Olivia and Fitz. Yes, their doomed relationship is a very important part of the show, but after you've seen dozens of moments where Fitz gets angry that they can't be together or Olivia pouts about the situation, it gets old. That aside, Scandal is a well-written, fast-paced show which actually deserves the attention which it has received. Sure, it bites off more than it can chew at times, and certain themes are repeated (Oh no, Huck's in the corner again!), but the show's kitchen sink approach makes other series look lazy.
Scandal: The Complete Second Season has an odd fetish for leather opera gloves on DVD courtesy of ABC Studios. The five-disc set contains all 22 episodes from the show's second season. The show has been letterboxed at 1.78:1 and the transfer is enhanced for 16 x 9 TVs. The image is very sharp and clear, showing no grain and no defects from the source material. The colors look good and the image is never overly dark or bright. The only place where this transfer suffer is in the level of detail, which is a tad soft and doesn't quite match HD broadcast quality. The DVD carries a Dolby Digital 5.1 audio track which provides clear dialogue and sound effects. For a TV show, Scandal offers a nice mix which delivers individual surround sound effects and some nice use of stereo. The commercial break musical stings fill the speakers and involve the subwoofer as well.
All of the extra features for Scandal: The Complete Second Season are found on Disc 5 in the set. "A Closer Look: President Grant's Assassination Attempt" (5 minutes) offers an interview with Creator/Executive Producer Shonda Rhimes, who reveals that, at the time, Tony Goldwyn still wasn't set to be on every episode and they weren't sure how long Season Two was going to be. Thus, the shooting was a big deal. We see rehearsal footage from the shooting scene and hear comments from the director, and then watch the scene being shot. "Being Huck" (8 minutes) has comments from Rhimes and actor Guillermo Diaz who discuss the episode "Seven Fifty-Two", which digs into Huck's mysterious background. Diaz talks about his performance and we hear how the cast reacted to the show. We get thirty-six DELETED SCENES which are taken from various episodes throughout the season and vary in length. The final extra is a five-minute reel of OUTTAKES.
Review by Mike Long. Copyright 2013.