ABC’s killer new drama

Thursday night held the series premiere of ABC’s newest show “How To Get Away With Murder,” which pulled in over 14 million viewers.

The show, of course, opened with a murder. However, viewers would soon find that by the end of the hour the body count would be upping, with just the first episode of the series introducing two different dead bodies and one case of attempted murder.

“How To Get Away With Murder” follows several different plot lines that ultimately bleed into one; the main one involving Professor Annalise Keating (Viola Davis) who worked as a tough Criminal Law professor as well as a brilliant defense lawyer.

The show focuses on five students in particular: Michaela (Aja Naomi King), Wes (Alfred Enoch), Connor (Jack Falahee), Asher (Matt McGorry) and Laurel (Karla Souza), four of which viewers first meet in the introduction as they carry a dead body across their university campus wrapped in a rug. These students also become especially involved in Keating’s current on-going case: clearing a CEO’s mistress from an attempted murder charge.

Every player in this dangerous game of legal wits achieves their means in very unorthodox ways, using sex, manipulation and inappropriately utilizing their personal relationships to get their preferred verdict.

Due to their assistance in Professor Keating’s case, these five students are invited to work for her in her law firm. Connor, who was able to illegally obtain an email to introduce a new suspect, “wins” the top student slot and receives a statue of Lady Justice as a reward that can be used as a trade in for an exam. This Lady Justice statue ironically also serves as the murder weapon in the opening scene that takes place three months in the future.

While all of this is occurring, there is also a side plot involving a missing sorority girl named Lila Stangard who has not been seen or heard from for a few days. Wes’ neighbor seemed broken up about her disappearance, and at one point is seen fighting with Stangard’s boyfriend. In the last few moments of the premiere, Lila is discovered floating dead in her sorority house’s water tower, and the audience is lead to assume that Professor Keating’s husband may just have something to do with it.

Critics have been raving about Viola Davis’ performance, with HitFix’s Alan Sepinwall going far enough to say, “The characters involved are so much less compelling than Annalise that it feels like a magic trick gone awry…Viola Davis is a star, and it’s long overdue that she got to frontline a show like this.” 

“How To Get Away With Murder” had big shoes to fill, with it being another “Shondaland” series. Executive producer Shonda Rhimes has previously worked closely with shows such as “Grey’s Anatomy” and “Scandal,” both of which have done very well rating and viewer wise. That being said, the “How To Get Away With Murder” series premiere actually added viewers from its lead in “Scandal,” and received a rating of 3.8 in the age 18-49 demographic.

Be sure to tune into the legal drama airing Thursday’s at 10 p.m. on ABC.