How to Get Away with Murder

2015-02-07_1651I have one piece of advice for you watching How to Get Away with Murder: check your brain at the door and you will have a great time.

This is ludicrous fun, cocktail-shaken for commercial television, ticking multiple boxes in a way that not many US network shows have done in a long time. I have to dip my hat to Shonda Rhimes who appears have devised a title first and story later for a broad, short-attention span audience.

This centres around a law class full of cute, bright university students learning under Criminal Law Professor Annalise Keating (Viola Davis). She is f-i-e-r-c-e to the point of ridiculousness with her strict demeanour and barking rules, but she provides enormous fun.

Amongst a sexy clique of students is Wes Gibbins (Alfred Enoch), a wide-eyed boyish student on his first day at University. Keating puts him under the gun -figuratively- on Day One of class but he is determined to make a good impression when he isn’t distracted by the girl living in the room next door.

Keating presents a case she is trying to her students, with a woman convicted of the attempted murder of her lover with aspirin. Their first assignment involves them finding legal arguments to defend the case, but it is pitched as a class competition. The winner gets to work at her law firm (she may have a lot of interns by the end of episode 22). While there are procedural twists and turns, Rhimes cleverly uses this device like an episode of Survivor.

Yet there is more to Keating than her methodology and instruction. Her private life harbours its own
secrets and indiscretions, which Wes stumbles upon. It creates a nice subtext between the teacher and pupil.

Also part of the intrigue is the non-linear storytelling at play here, with flash-forwards that show the students knee-deep in their own criminal case (hint: look to the title). We are seeing more and more television shows that depict the beginning and the end, leaving us to uncover just what went on in the middle (thank you, Damages).

One gay sub-plot initially had me worried, but took a playful detour.

How to Get Away with Murder plays its attributes very well. It’s fast, fun, sexy and clever. You will forgive the plot points that stretch credibility because it doesn’t take itself too seriously. Episode 2 is even more absurd….

Viola Davis eats up this anti-hero role up for breakfast, and probably spits it out. I wouldn’t trust Annalise Keating for a minute, but I’d sure as hell want her to defend me in court.

How to Get Away with Murder airs 9pm Tuesday on Seven.

20 Comments:

  1. Hi everyone, any word as to why Ramsay’s Costa Del Nightmares is being shown tonight (9pm, Tue 14 April) which is the normal time when How to Get Away with Murder is shown on Channel 7? I just looked and there weren’t any announcements at the end of last week’s episode to say the next episode would be deferred til next week etc… Where has it gone??

  2. @ Danny: David reported that it earlier it received a full season! Often other sites do not update their episode numbering until later.

    Thanks for the review David. I managed to see some episodes and treat it as you described some light TV without worrying about the unrealistic elements.
    @ MattC: I must say I didn’t notice the constant repeats, unless they were the recaps. I normally dislike this feature. I do find the chopping from past to present a little confusing without clear definition at times.
    Although as a Shonda Rimes show it has the usual twists and turns that keeps viewers watching!

  3. Secret Squirrel

    @Guy – I’m only going on how regularly effusive you are regarding shows that are on the Seven network. If you have been as supportive about shows on Nine or Ten perhaps you could point those comments out because I must have missed them.

  4. This series is amazing. Glad to see it got a good review from you.

    I’ve been watching each episode straight after they air in the US and I’m planning to watch it for a second time through on Seven- might pick up a few more hints dropped in the early episodes.

  5. This is a good show which I hope rates its socks off.

    David, there appears to be a minor discrepancy in your article. Season 1 has 15 episodes, not 22. The season 1 finale is scheduled to air in the United States in 3 weeks.

  6. Seen the pilot and it had me from the start to finish. That doesn’t happen very often with me and tv shows. Can’t wait to see the rest of it. Great review David.

  7. Glad to read your review David. Not many new shows have received above 3.5 stars from you so I’m glad to know your view. Was planning on checking it out but glad to know you rate it highly – more of an incentive to watch live and not tape to watch later.

  8. I wanted to like this show, but it treats its audience like idiots.

    Every plot development gets its own blue-tinted flashback, like a flashing neon sign to tell the audience that ‘This bit is important’. It also has an infuriating habit of doing recaps leading in and out of commercial breaks, so it’ll fit seamlessly into the post-MKR timeslot.

    The premise has a lot of dramatic potential, but if the writers can’t trust the audience to connect the most basic of dots, it seems unlikely that they’d write the sorts of complex and rewarding story arcs that reward intelligent and engaged viewership.

  9. One of the best new shows I’ve seen in a long time. I absolutely love the ride the show takes the viewer on to finding out what happens in the flash forwards.

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