Fall TV First Impression: ABC's How to Get Away With Murder

How to Get Away With Murder PreviewThe broadcast networks have more than two dozen shows debuting this fall, including Katherine Heigl‘s TV comeback, a trip to Gotham, a third NCIS and a Flash-y Arrow offshoot. To help you prep for it all, TVLine is offering First Impressions of the not-for-review pilots.

Next up on our list….

PHOTOS Fall TV Preview: Your Guide to What’s New!

THE SHOW | ABC’s How to Get Away With Murder (Thursdays at 10/9c, premiere date TBA)

THE COMPETITION | CBS’ Thursday Night Football/Elementary and NBC’s Parenthood

THE CAST | Viola Davis (The Help), Billy Brown (Sons of Anarchy), Charlie Weber (Underemployed), Liza Weil (Gilmore Girls), Alfred Enoch (Harry Potter), Jack Falahee (Twisted), Katie Findlay (The Killing), Aja Naomi King (Emily Owens. M.D.), Matt McGorry (Orange Is the New Black) and Karla Souza (Verano de amor)

THE SET-UP | As the promos make clear, revered criminal law prof Annalise Keating lords over a course she affectionately dubs “How to Get Away With Murder,” choosing from her brightest students a select few to toil at her law firm. These star pupils, however, are put to a test for which no text book AJA NAOMI KING, JACK FALAHEE, KARLA SOUZAhas an answer key, when a dead body lands at their collective feet!

RELATED ABC Fall Schedule: Shondaland-Themed Thursday as Grey’s and Scandal Make Way for Murder; S.H.I.E.L.D. on the Move

THE FIRST IMPRESSION | The latest ride to open at Shondaland, Murder (or HTGAWM?) is very much in the style of Scandal, boasting a slick look, a crackling zip to the storytelling and an occasional darkness to the narrative. Be forewarned, this pilot demands your attention — the story abruptly toggles between timelines and it will take some time to get the assorted telegenic kiddies straight, so if you’re the type to zone out after the 140th character of a tweet (or article), this is not for you. Murder invites you to wonder, throughout its first hour, what (and who) it is about; those who play the game will get reeled in, real quick, and in turn possibly discover a new TV obsession.

Davis is expectedly commanding in her scenes, be they in a classroom, courtroom or (a makeshift) bedroom, and Annalise is a morally gray character designed to keep us guessing. Weber and Weil play her associates (yet get little screen time in the pilot), while Brown/his pecs and Tom Verica (American Dreams) portray the two men in her life. Among the younger ranks, Falahee and King immediately pop (as conniving Connor and overachiever Michaela), though Enoch (as Everyman Wes) arguably is the lead, or at least the “Quinn Perkins” through which we enter and view Annalise’s, er, “complicated” world. (The pilot has great fun showing us how far, and in what specific ways, each student will go to help Keating with her current case.) A Goth’d Findlay, playing Wes’ hissy neighbor, promises to get pulled into the larger narrative as the series goes on.

MORE FIRST IMPRESSIONS Fox’s Red Band Society, CBS’ Madam Secretary, NBC’s State of Affairs, ABC’s black-ish, CBS’ Stalker, The CW’s The Flash, Fox’s Gotham

THE TVLINE BOTTOM LINE | Created by Pete Nowalk (a producer on 80-plus total episodes of Scandal and Grey’s Anatomy), Murder caps ABC Thursday’s new Shondaland trifecta as a spot-on lead-out to Scandal and is poised to garner the same sort of “What just happened…?!” watercooler buzz. The question is, will it grab an audience straight away (as “the new Scandal” and all) or will it, too, need time to cultivate a fanatical following? (Phrased differently: Who on this cast is up for live-tweeting?)

Watch a preview for How to Get Away With Murder, then vote in our poll below.

Comments are monitored, so don’t go off topic, don’t frakkin’ curse and don’t bore us with how much your coworker’s sister-in-law makes per hour. Talk smart about TV!

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50 Comments
  1. chaouad says:

    i cant wait for this show !!!

  2. Babybop says:

    I’ll definitely give it a shot, mostly because of Viola Davis and Lisa Weil (I still watch Gilmore Girls every day…). I’m not a huge Shonda fan, to be honest, because her shows start out good and quickly dissolve into soap operas with too much sex and too little good story. This may be different…We’ll see.

  3. M3rc Nate says:

    Meh….WAAAAAY too much melodrama and sleeping around etc for my taste. Give me a Suits/Graceland/Justified/Person of Interest etc any day over this stuff.

    • ... says:

      Ah, so you’re one of those people who hold your nose at sexuality on television while indulging in violent content. Nice.

      • Sarah says:

        People like different things. Who’s to say you’re any better?

      • Angela says:

        Wow, that’s quite an assumption to make based off their comment. I’m not one to watch shows with a lot of bed-hopping, either…not because I “hold my nose” at sexuality (far from it, actually), but because there’s just other types of plots that hold my interest beyond the usual, “Who’s hooking up with whom this week?” thing-to me it’s more that the “sleeping around” plots just get silly and overdramatic after a while (though hey, more power to those who enjoy that type of stuff-it’s obviously got its appeal as a storyline for some viewers).
        Perhaps that other poster feels the same way. Who knows? But please, feel free to keep jumping to baseless conclusions regardless.

        • M3rc Nate says:

          Exactly, thank you. That is exactly how i feel. I LOVE sexuality when its done right, and i dont mean prudishly or PG13 or anything…i dont like gratuitous pointless nudity/sex, just like i dont like gratuitous violence. Now some sex/nudity/violence is key to the plot and i love watching it…but im so tired of the trend that now that soap operas are gone, their style (ridiculous stories/plots, bed hopping, sleeping with brothers/sisters, etc) is coming fully into prime time TV.

          I love me some Flashpoint…there’s violence but its meaningful (its mature, they show the consequences psychologically etc), realistic, and not gratuitous, there’s coupling and even uncoupling (breaking up) and family/marriage drama, but its all done in a very mature, high quality way. Compare that to the other Canadian show Rookie Blue…and that’s the melodramatic bang fest cop show…jack full of everyone sleeping around with everyone, breaking up with everyone, everyone getting shot/stabbed/abducted and more. Its a soap opera that’s just better acted with better production value. Shame on me for wanting to watch classy TV. Cheap, classless, unrealistic, melodramatic, overly dramatic..those are words i’d use to describe Rookie Blue, and it seems from this trailer, words id use to describe this “How to get away with Murder” show along with many many other shows on TV. Now i get some shows are..guilty pleasures, i accept that easily…but some shows are just gross and lowest common denominator. Its easy to write that type of crap, hence why its everywhere, its hard to write high quality stories (Breaking Bad, Flashpoint, etc) thats why they are rare.

      • Nathan says:

        Ah, and you’re one of those people who love to be a judgmental twit whenever possible. Nice as well…….

  4. JJM says:

    I definitely will be tuning in. Aside from ‘Off The Map’, Shonda is yet to let me down with her shows…

  5. ... says:

    I just can’t do another Shonda show. Scandal was the first of her shows that I gave a shot and while it has some good stuff to it, the writing tics are way too much for me to deal with.

  6. Reminds me of a 90’s movie called Murder 101, with Pierce Brosnan, that aired on USA Network.

  7. GeoDiva says:

    I’m so in.

  8. Juan says:

    Most anticipated show for me

  9. Mary Kate says:

    If Shonda creates it, I’m in!

  10. webly3 says:

    This should be good!

  11. Jasmine says:

    They had me at: Viola Davis!

  12. schu says:

    Viola Davis…nuff said.

  13. jenna says:

    i’ve found that with shonda shows that i typically go 2-3 seasons before I check out, but those 2-3 years make for some great tv! I’m looking forward to this show

  14. Ron says:

    I’m worried it will be too “soapy” for me. But I’m definitely gonna give it a chance for the best reason to give anything a chance–Viola Davis!

  15. Angela says:

    “I want to be her.” Heh, my thoughts exactly.
    Hmmm. This looks kinda intriguing. I haven’t really seen much of Shonda’s work in general, but the concept has me curious, and the characters already have my interest. I may have to make a note to check this one out.

  16. analog says:

    Viola Davis’s hairstyle needs to be changed.

  17. Ram510 says:

    I will definatley watch but it’s tough for me cause I always want to watch the final season of Parenthood

  18. shump says:

    I couldn’t care less about The Flash or Gotham. This is what the fall is all about for me.

  19. Sheldon W. says:

    Of all the hour drama pilots that have no superhero/paranormal/supernatural element to them, this was my clear favorite. The writing is tight, the cast is super and the direction is appropriately frenetic when it needs to be.

    Inspired silliness of the Shondaland variety – though not as extreme as Scandal. If the pilot’s pace keeps up it will only burn through about as much as two episodes of any other non-Scandal hour drama.

  20. Tran says:

    There’s no doubt ABC will rule Thursday nights with a Shonda Rhimes Triple Feature: Grey’s Anatomy, Scandal and her new hit series How to Get Away With Murder or HTGAWM. Can’t wait to see Viola Davis in her first TV role. The series should do better going up against Parenthood and Elementary (new season begins October 30th) in the 10 p.m. Thursday night time slot.

  21. Simon says:

    I’m sticking with Elementary

  22. Jenna says:

    Very much looking forward to this. Viola Davis adds amazing credibility to any show, and this sounds good!

  23. Ally Oop says:

    The title is a turn-off for me. I absolutely hate the title and can’t picture myself watching a show with such a title for longer than a season. Ive watched Grey’s from the beginning but I couldn’t get into Scandal. Pass.

  24. Nick says:

    I was actually not at all interested in this show until I read this. But now I’m very intrigued. Not to mention pretty excited about Dean Thomas from Harry Potter being in it. Also, is it a coincidence that a revered professor’s last name is Keating? Dead Poets Society reference, anyone?

  25. I wish this weren’t on opposite Parenthood and Elementary. I’ve been looking forward to this one.

  26. MAX says:

    Because Shonda Rhimes is the writing and creative force behind this new show, and because VIOLA DAVIS is starring in it, there is NO WAY I WILL MISS IT!!! I was a fan of Grey’s Anatomy for the first 4 years, then just got tired of it. Am a serious FANATICAL ADDICT FAN of “Scandal”. LOVE everything about that show…. absolutely everything!! Now, Shondaland is serving up VIOLA DAVIS to us in a new drama. I’m salivating now in anticipation. CAN’T WAIT FOR THURSDAYS this Fall. It’s gonna be AWESOME!!

  27. jj says:

    I was interested unti I saw the promo. Most more like night-time soap opera than crime show. I will give it a try and see what happens.

  28. herman1959 says:

    I’m late to the party due to storm-related internet issues, but I digress…YES, YES, YES! I have been waiting for this show, and I expect it to be even better than the preview.

  29. Bruce says:

    I love Viola Davis but I don’t like the Name of the show. ..there shouldn’t be how to…About getting away

  30. Montessahall says:

    Viola Davis is too beautiful for such a bad hairdo!

  31. Infinite says:

    I Can’t Waitttttttt!!

  32. steven levy says:

    I MUST see the first episode 2 more times at least. This time I am taking notes

  33. Lawyer Jane says:

    The show tried too hard and failed by adding un needed sex scenes and Davis dramatically over acting. There are far better legal shows past & present. Thumds down.

    • Ashley says:

      This isn’t a legal show. It’s a drama that happens to center around law students and their professor. The legal aspects are tied in but the mystery/drama surrounding the students and their professor is the actual focus. Viola Davis most definitely did not overact, IMO. Also…unneeded sex scenes?! There was ONE actual sex scene and it was totally relevant to the plot and was used to provide insight into Conner’s character, it wasn’t gratuitous at all. The scene with Keating and her b/f was barely shown at all. And again, not gratuitous, as it was essential to altering the dynamic between Wes and Keating.

      • Jasmine says:

        Viola Davis was PERFECTION! She is brilliant and her character is also. The character was believable in all aspects. She is smart, complicated, sexy & beautiful, classically :)
        I thoroughly enjoyed the show & watched it several times already. The show kept me guessing and intrigued.

  34. Jade says:

    Viola Davis is so much better than this show. Who ever thought this up should have just…let it go. Needed a shower after watching this train wreck, same feeling you get visiting a lawyer. It had no redeeming features, just the rape of talented professional people.

  35. Elizabeth Christine Walker says:

    As with the other comments, I began watching Scandal, loved Olivia Pope, but the show became to involved, like a soap opera. I love Viola Davis, it was nice to see a women with experience as the leading actress. Stay away from sharing beds and body fluids every week and I will became a loyal fan. Viola rocks!

  36. Cher says:

    Was very excited to watch this show. Set the DVR to record all programs. Watched the first 3 episodes, but we decided we weren’t interested in watching homosexuals having sex. Sure think there were other ways to develop the plot and develop the characters, this just turned out to be a deal breaker for us.

  37. Alyson says:

    Am I the only one who see’s too closely of a similarity to “How To Get Away With Murder” and “House”???

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