TV First Looks: Viola Davis in New ABC Thriller and Lee Daniels’ ‘Empire’

by | May 15, 2014 at 3:40 PM | Black Entertainment, Black Entertainment Originals, Can't Stop Watching, Empire, How To Get Away with Murder

"How to Get Away with Murder" stars Viola Davis as Professor Annalise Keating. (Photo: ABC/Craig Sjodin)

We’ve barely gotten used to the spring weather and are already thinking about the TV goodies slated for the fall and winter. Check out the trailers for Shonda Rhimes’ new ABC series starring Viola Davis and Lee Daniels’ new Fox drama starring Terrence Howard and Taraji P. Henson. Plus, there’s my watchlist and what’s hot (Maya Rudolph) and what’s not (Lamar “Sal” Sally). Enjoy!

Viola Davis’ new ABC pilot looks good. “How To Get Away with Murder,” Shonda Rhimes’ new “masterful, sexy, suspense-driven legal thriller” (nice!) planned for this fall, looks like something that’ll have no problem garnering viewers, especially myself. And with “Scandal” as a lead-in, I’d be surprised if it doesn’t do well. Oscar nominee Viola Davis stars Annalise Keating, a “brilliant, charismatic and seductive” criminal law professor who “gets entangled with four law students from her class ‘How to Get Away with Murder,’” according to an ABC press release. She is the lead and most recognizable actor attached to this project that’s set in Philadelphia. But I spotted another very familiar face. Actor Alfie Enoch, the young Brit best known for his role as Dean Thomas in the “Harry Potter” films, will star as Wes and Aja Naomi King will star as Michaela. Alright, alright. The 3-minute trailer looked good and inspired curiosity about this project (It also kind of reminded me of “Legally Blonde.”)Viola is a very gifted talent who exudes the appropriate presence a character like Annalise would require:  confident, successful, intelligent and sexy. I also like that Viola has been cast for this (part of the clip shows Wes walking in on Annalise in a very compromising position with a shirtless cutie with nice arms. Very. Nice. Arms.) because as she and Alfre Woodard shared last year on “Oprah’s Next Chapter,” some in Hollywood still struggle with casting darker skinned women as the attractive, desired lead. Fortunately that’s a nonissue here.  ”How To Get Away with Murder” sounds like a winner, right? It will air in “Scandal’s” old slot on Thursdays at 10 p.m. EST on ABC (“Scandal” will air at 9 p.m. EST). Check out the trailer below.

Fox OKs “Empire.” Looks like Taraji P. Henson can breathe easy since Fox has picked up the Lee Daniel’s drama “Empire.” As you recall, the Oscar-nominated actress told me last month that she was grateful to be busy promoting her film “From the Rough” rather than worrying whether “Empire” would get picked up. The cast and crew spent three weeks shooting the pilot in Chicago two months ago. Terrence Howard stars as record executive Lucious Lyon (a streetwise cat who probably used his illegal dealings to turn legit–at least that’s what I gather from the trailer) who apparently divorced Taraji’s character Cookie some time during the 17 years she was locked up. And Cookie … girlfriend doesn’t seem like the type of chick you’d want to piss off. I have a feeling Solange Knowles’ elevator tirade has nothing on the wrath Cookie could unleash. It also stars Gabourey Sidibe as Lucious’ hard-working assistant Becky. Plus, there’s Malik Yoba, Tasha Smith and Jussie Smollett as Jamal, one of Lucious and Cookie’s sons. Hmm… the trailer and the star power involved is enough for me to check this out but will cliches and predictability keep me from doing so regularly? That’s the real question. Watch “Empire’s” trailer below and decide for yourself.

On my watchlist? What I’m tuning in to see and what I’ll catch up with XFINITY On Demand…
“Rosemary’s Baby”: Did you get a chance to see the first part of the NBC remake of this classic starring Zoe Saldana? I did and it was intriguing enough for me to want to watch the conclusion. It airs tonight at 9 p.m. EST. Watch it here.

The Hot List: Who/What’s Hot, Not
HOT: Maya Rudolph (I tell ya, this girl is gifted!).
NOT: Identical twins Jasmiyah and Tasmiyah Whitehead murdering their mother (…).

HOT: The cute photo that Solange Knowles recently posted online of she and older sister Beyonce (Yes, ladies, hash this out!).
NOT: The antics “The View” co-host Sherri Shepherd’s husband Lamar Sally (Sal) is pulling with this divorce (SMH. Sherri, girlfriend, you gotta choose better!).

The opinions expressed are solely those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of Comcast.