Hit or Sh**: ABC’s NOTORIOUS
In this Crossfader series, our intricate and complex rating system will tell you definitively whether new television pilots are worth your valuable time. We call it: HIT OR SH**.
The only thing that NOTORIOUS is going to be notorious for is being notoriously awful. There was not much to love about this first episode, and I can’t imagine I could grow to love it if I kept watching. Now, I didn’t approach the show with this attitude. I was actually somewhat excited to watch it. The premise seemed interesting, and the fact that ABC placed the show in SCANDAL’s Thursday night slot during its hiatus showed that they were confident it could fill its shoes. The show is loosely based on the real life relationship between Wendy Walker, a Larry King Live producer, and Mark Geragos, a criminal defense lawyer. It focuses on how the two (named Julia George and Jake Gregorian in the series) work together to manipulate the news in a way that furthers their interests. Hey, that’s kind of a cool idea, right? This might have a chance. That’s what I thought at first. But then, I actually started watching.
The only thing that drew me into this show was the fact that it had a premise that was slightly original and different. Only slightly. And yet it still fucked that up. While it was promoted as having a new spin on the classic legal drama genre, it resulted in an experience I’ve had a hundred times with a hundred different shows. NOTORIOUS didn’t take advantage of the unique relationship between the two main characters by telling an interesting story with it. It just threw a bunch of plot twists and information at me and expected me to care about it while only barely knowing the main characters.
Piper Perabo in the role of “Less-Likeable Olivia Pope”
It was clear that the writers don’t know how to create and develop characters properly. They try to explicitly spoon-feed us information about the characters instead of letting their traits come across naturally. In one scene that just bothered the hell out of me, our protagonist Julia’s employee Megan is describing Julia to someone else, giving a full explanation of Julia’s character and her intentions. It’s as if she’s reading the Wikipedia character bio for the viewer. Great. This is all good stuff to know. But LET ME FIGURE IT OUT ON MY OWN. Another scene that grinded my gears takes place after Julia dumps her boyfriend Eric. In the dumping scene, Julia goes on and on to Eric about how she’s gonna forget him forever, and then she storms out. Then, in the next scene involving Julia, we get a lengthy and “emotional” moment wherein she looks up Eric in her phone and deletes his contact. WHY? DID WE REALLY NEED TO SEE HER DO THAT TO GET THAT SHE’S OVER HIM?! I almost turned the show off at this point, partly because I was mad and partly because I knew there would be nothing else worth seeing.
Oh, boo hoo, Eric. At least you didn’t have to suffer through an hour of this bullshit
The most egregious thing I noticed about NOTORIOUS was that it moved fast. Really fast. Too fast. So fast that I couldn’t even identify or care at all about what was going on. I felt like every time a character would come into a room, they would storm off within thirty seconds. Like, chill, NOTORIOUS. You’ve got 42 minutes to tell me a good story. But the show instead tries to force in a bunch of information without spending enough time on the things that matter. For instance, the stuff with Sarah Keaton was completely wasted, because they crammed her entire story into a portion of this first episode. So when Sarah and Jake finally mack on each other, I don’t really know enough about their relationship and history to really care. And when Jake starts bawling his eyes out after she bites it, I can’t really feel for the guy because I’ve only seen their story for five minutes of screen time. Slow it down, NOTORIOUS. And another thing: The show kept using this disorienting fast-paced editing technique to try and be stylistic and different. It was kind of cool at first, but after a while it became very annoying.
Will they… or won’t they? Spoilers: They will
You never know. The colossal shitload of plot twists might be enough to keep people watching this show for a little while, but eventually viewers will realize that they don’t really care about any of these people. There’s simply nothing special about this show. It’s got drama that just isn’t that dramatic. It’s got humour that just isn’t that humorous. It’s got heart that just isn’t that heartfelt. And it’s just too damn fast. If they could spend more time getting to know the characters, maybe the show could have a chance. Well, probably not. It’s perhaps a lost cause.
So, if you’re a SCANDAL fan looking for a new Thursday night thrill, keep looking. NOTORIOUS is like the mediocre understudy who has to fill in for the star of the play when he breaks his leg.
Sorry, understudy, you just didn’t cut it.
NOTORIOUS airs on Thursdays on ABC