How to Get Away With Murder is a killer thriller? According to the ratings delivered, it most certainly appears to be on its way. The pilot episode of the new ABC drama, paired with the other two established Shondaland hits of Grey’s Anatomy and Scandal, helped to collectively deliver the network’s strongest Thursday night performance in five years.
The much-buzzed about new drama has delivered a pilot episode that managed to live up to its hype and gave the audience several reasons to return for more. How to Get Away With Murder has officially joined the roster of Rhimes-produced shows and launched with a stellar 3.8 demo rating among adults 18-49 and over 14 million total viewers in its premiere episode. The Peter Nowalk-created debut series not only managed to hold on to 100 percent of its significant Scandal lead-in, it grew an impressive 18 percent in total viewers. Moreover, How to Get Away With Murder matched last fall’s The Blacklist on NBC as the highest-rated 10 p.m. EST drama premiere in two years, as well as ranked as the most-watched 10 p.m. drama opener overall in the last two years.
Given the initial ratings response, it appears that How to Get Away With Murder is posed to be a killer thriller indeed. Beyond the ratings factor, the pilot episode delivered killer moments in more ways than one. It featured not one murder mystery, as was detailed in much of the press coverage leading up to the premiere, but surprised and delighted the viewers with two murder mysteries that will unravel over the first season. The murder victims, college student Lila Stangard and Professor Sam Keating, will undoubtedly be linked in more ways than one, however, if anything was learned from the pilot, expect the unexpected.
The first victim, Lila Stangard, is introduced into the premiere in ominous fashion with her disappearance presented as a springboard to compel the plot forward. Stangard was a popular and pretty sorority co-ed, who was last seen at a campus party on August 30. The campus mourns her absence and gathers for a vigil. Shortly after her disappearance, the sorority girl’s corpse is found in quite an unpleasant manner on the roof of her sorority house. There are no shortage of suspects who could have committed the crime including Professor Annalise Keating herself, portrayed with ferocious intensity by film actress Viola Davis (The Help). The vim and vigor Davis layers her performance with makes How to Get Away With Murder Must-See TV all on its own, while the complexity she brings to the character is nothing short of inspired. If viewers watch for no other reason, make an appointment with the series just to see Davis’ killer performance.
The second victim, Professor Sam Keating, who is the husband of Davis’ Annalise, is the corpse the audience encounters as the four frightened law students attempt to dispose of it. This story arc will be revisited via flash-forwards throughout the season. These flash-forwards will not only provide clues about how Sam died and who killed him, but also give the audience insight into the minds and motives of the fearsome foursome as they attempt to dispose of the corpse and cover up a crime they may or may not have committed.
The ratings are in and it appears How to Get Away With Murder is posed to be a killer thriller for audiences and ABC. The Shondaland team, which spearheaded fellow Thursday night hits Grey’s Anatomy and Scandal, has added another winner to its roster with Viola Davis and How to Get Away With Murder. The Thank God It’s Thursday (TGIT) trifecta proved to be powerhouse premiere performers and helped to collectively deliver ABC’s strongest Thursday night performance in five years.
Opinion and Review By Leigh Haugh
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