How to Get Away With Murder, Ep. 1.01, “Pilot” is TV’s newest obsession
How to Get Away With Murder, the new ABC drama from writer Peter Norwalk and executive producer Shonda Rimes, has the potential to drive off the rails at any moment. The premise it sets up for itself (spoiler alert: it’s a murder) cannot sustain itself for more than a season. Its characters, a group of ambitious law students, are pitched at tones ranging between frantic and rabid. Its procedural elements are nothing that would be out of place on a Dick Wolf show. But the one element that gives me utter confidence that this show is worth watching, besides Shondaland’s unquestionable track record, is the central performance of Viola Davis, one of the great American actresses of our time. Her role as Annalise Keating, criminal law professor at Philadelphia’s fictional Middleton University, shows herself to be charismatic, intelligent, and supremely manipulative in just a handful of scenes. She’s a predator with flashes of humanity. If the writing holds up, Davis will be able to create an antihero in the league of Tony Soprano and Walter White.