Sunday, September 28, 2014

NEW SHOW: How to Get Away with Murder: A Different Procedural

I decided to give this series a try primarily based on the cast and the title, which is probably pretty commonplace these days. There were some great things about the pilot and some really questionable devices that left me wondering how well the drama will go over with the general public. However, if I had to guess now, I’d say that Shonda Rhimes may have done it again, and we have another long-lasting procedural on our hands. The format for the show appears to be case-of-the-week, but with flash-forwards to events that tie in the characters and what they’re learning in class/the case to something mischievous. There’s a lot going on for a first episode, and it’s tough to keep some of the characters straight (for me, I especially struggled with Asher and Connor), but definitely worth the time.
How to Get Away with Murder "Pilot" (S01E01): It’s the start of a new school year at Middleton Law School, where Professor Annalise Keating introduces her Criminal Law 100 course as “How to Get Away with Murder.” [this one of the many reasons I didn’t become a lawyer! I couldn’t imagine defending murderers I knew were guilty!] The first assignment is a case study, where each student will hear the defendant’s side of a story, then devise a unique one-minute argument to defend the secretary. The most promising students will then be offered the option to join Keating’s team and work on real cases alongside their classwork this semester. [kinda like on Legally Blonde!]

Students are told that the best ideas are to discredit witnesses, introduce new suspects, and bury the evidence by throwing too much other information at the jury. Given that, some of their ideas include trying to pin the murder on someone else, calling the death a client mistake, labeling it as an accident, trying to prove diminished mental acuity, stating lack of evidence, blaming the doctor, and claiming self-defense.

The top students quickly appear to be Asher, McKayla, Laurel, Connor, and Wes. The last one, however, is an odd choice, given that he didn’t have anything particularly innovative in mind, but when he went to run an idea by the professor, he accidentally learns that she’s having an affair with a detective. [he also learns she’s struggling with infertility, which probably could have been left out, at least for now.]

The case is going well until it comes up that the secretary didn't say that she bought aspirin the night before the murder, which is on security film. Keating calls the detective to the stand to ask about previous instances of doctored surveillance footage, while the students help out in other ways. McKayla calls every eye doctor and pretends she's an insurance person to find out that a witness is color-blind, which discredits what she saw. [I’m really not in love with that kind of tactic!] Connor picks up a guy at a bar to get information about the secretary. [also, an interesting way to get the email into "discovery." Can you tell I don’t really know my legal jargon??] Laurel tells Keating's associate, Frank, that she suspects the wife and mistress teamed up to kill the guy. In the end, Connor gets a trophy for helping the most, which he can “cash in” sometime during the semester.

Ongoing Story: On August 30th, undergraduate Lila Stangard went missing for three days before being found in the water tank of her sorority. She was a student of Keating’s husband, a psychology professor.

Three Months in the Future: There's a huge bonfire in the woods, and four of the five main law students try to figure out what to do with someone they killed. They roll it up in a rug, narrowly escape police questioning, and decide to burn it, the body of Keating’s husband.
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