Why you should care

Because summer really just means a countdown until fall TV binging season, right?

No one knows what on earth a television program will actually be like based on early glimpses of the show. But if Hollywood gave out Oscars for trailers, Viola Davis would certainly win one for her turn in the trailer for How to Get Away With Murder — the show that promises to be TV’s most tempting cocktail this fall.

First, there is two-time Oscar nominee Davis leading the cast. This immediately deserves attention. The drama centers around a law school professor, played by Davis, and her students who get first-hand experience with her working on real crimes. These eager, young, attractive, smart, diverse — and yes, scandalous — college students are solving crimes as they learn the Constitution by heart. And somewhere between the legal briefs and the Fruit of the Loom briefs everyone disrobes. Surprise.

Alongside Viola Davis is a cast that includes Alfred Enoch and Matt McGorry of Orange Is the New Black.

The possibilities for melodrama here — consider the inter-student or prof-student relationships alone — are great. It’s the presence of Davis, who would bring engrossing gravitas even to reciting the office Starbucks order, who will stop this program from tipping into the abyss, the way some feel Scandal has.

Before she garnered popular attention, Davis won a Tony award for her Broadway work in King Hedley II. Later came Academy nominations for The Help and Doubt, the performance where she matched Meryl Streep and the late Phillip Seymour Hoffman line for line, and had moviegoers and Hollywood talking for months.

Davis now joins the migration of respected film actors to the small screen. Yet the big mamas and papas of Hollywood — like Brad Pitt, Julia Roberts, Angelina Jolie and Will Smith, for example, still avoid small.

Alongside Davis is a cast that includes Alfred Enoch — aka Dean Thomas in the Harry Potter films, all grown up (and pretty to look at) — and Matt McGorry of Orange Is the New Black.

And last but so, so far from least: the producer is the epic Shonda Rhimes, the Dartmouth graduate who brought us Grey’s Anatomy before Scandal, the hit which has Twitter chirping on Thursday nights.* Impressive, too, though often left off Rhimes’s notable accomplishments, is Private Practice which aired from 2007–2013.

HTGAWM will follow Scandal on Thursday nights, ABC says. Until then, there’s the trailer. It’ll give you the shivers.

*Correction: a previous version of this story misstated that Shonda Rhimes was the creator of How to Get Away With Murder. Pete Nowalk is the creator, writer and executive producer. Shonda Rhimes and Betsy Beers are executive producers.

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