Thursday, March 15, 2018

SHONDALAND Leaving ABC on Good Note with “FOR THE PEOPLE”

Shonda Rhimes has been hailed as one of the titans of contemporary television series programming, thanks of course to her audience-generating dramas such as “Grey’s Anatomy”, “Private Practice” and “Scandal”. That would have been enough to earn her spot on TIME’s 100 People Who Help Shape the World” for 2007, but she has also executively produced more TV hits like “How to Get Away with Murder” and “Off the Map”. All of these have had a home for years on ABC, which Rhimes would be leaving for Netflix. But this abrupt departure might do both show-runner and network some good.
It is true, as CNN tells it, that the remarkable success of Shonda Rhimes and her Shondaland production company has given her great clout in ABC regarding what programs to develop, mostly from her. With Rhimes’ decision to take up Netflix’s generous exclusive offer, she not only allows the ABC network to begin entertaining ideas from other show creators; Rhimes herself will be moving to a challenging new environment, where she could push the content of any new Netflix originals she might develop further than the tolerable limits of broadcast TV. It is a win-win situation for both of them.
And it is not as if Rhimes is switching from ABC to Netflix overnight. She still had time to bring out some last few Shondaland series for her TV home of many years. ABC7NY reports that the new legal drama “For the People” aired its pilot successfully Tuesday this week. It is produced by Rhimes with show-runner William Paul Davies, who is developing the plot by drawing from his past experience as a litigator. The premise is pure Shondaland: eager young newbie professionals in a high-pressure work environment. Fans of “How to Get Away with Murder” would feel right at home.
The setting of “For the People” is the so-called “Mother Court”, or Southern Federal District of New York Federal Court. Here, freshly-minted lawyers get to cut their teeth in the practice of their profession, choosing between becoming prosecutors or defenders. Thus far the focus characters are two new court assistants who were close friends before passing the bar, played by Jasmin Savoy Brown and Britt Robertson. It is a sure bet that the series will follow them as they settle into their work environment, interact with the people around them, and become better – or worse off – when it ends.
Also waiting to premiere next week is the firefighter-based action-drama series “Station 19”, the other swan-song Shondaland series for ABC and a spinoff to “Grey’s Anatomy”. Its backdoor pilot already aired as episode 13 of season 14 of “Grey’s Anatomy”, while its inaugural 10-episode season starts airing on March 22.
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