Fall TV Preview: HOW TO GET AWAY WITH MURDER

how-to-get-away-with-murder-s01e01

Starring: Viola Davis (“The Help”), Billy Brown (“Sons of Anarchy”), Alfred Enoch (“Harry Potter”), Jack Falahee (“Twisted”), Katie Findlay (“The Carrie Diaries”), Aja Naomi King (“Black Man”), Matt McGorry (“Orange is the New Black”), Karla Souza, Charlie Weber (“90210?) and Liza Weil (“Bunheads”)

Genre: One-hour drama

Premiere Date: Thursday, September 25, 10 p.m., ABC (CTV in Canada)

Direct Competition: Thursday Night Football (September-October) / “Elementary” (October 30-) (CBS), “Parenthood” (NBC)

Premise (in 140 characters or less): A law professor teaches a group of promising students how to play dirty to ensure the law stays on their side.

Initial Reaction: Viola Davis is great, but without her, or a vaguely interesting cliffhanger, I probably wouldn’t watch followup episodes.

Conclusion: This is my first experience watching a show helmed by producer, Shonda Rhimes, which is good for the purposes of this not-review. It allowed me to go in to “How to Get Away” without expectations, unlike fans of both “Grey’s Anatomy” and “Scandal,” who’re likely to stick around for all of ‘Shonda Night’ on ABC. Unfortunately, that bias doesn’t change the fact that there’s too much going on in this pilot, and not enough time spent with any one character.

Davis is, as you’d expect, superb, but she’s probably on screen for half of the episode, if that. “How to Get Away” is a show about Davis’ law students, and their willingness to go above and beyond to please their ethically-questionable scholar. The pilot sets up a cliffhanger that, without giving anything away, is used to hook viewers for week two, and possibly beyond. It reinforces the idea that everyone’s innocent till proven guilty, but probably that everyone involved is guilty! That, and Davis, will get me back in week two. Beyond that? I’m not so sure.

Watch Live, DVR or Skip?: DVR this one. It’s up against the final 13 episodes of “Parenthood,” and that’s a farewell season deserving of your undivided attention. “How to Get Away with Murder” shows promise, but the pilot isn’t as strong as it needs to be.

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