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Scandal, reworked Once Upon a Time are back

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The end is in sight for the new fall season debuts. There are a couple of returning shows today and Friday, and next week will see The CW finally join the schedule.

Here are the latest returnees.

Scandal, 8 p.m. today on ABC. After years of shocking -- shocking -- twists and turns, Season 7 will be the final curtain for Shonda Rhimes' Washington-based political soap. It will, however, seem like a partially new series.

The last hurrah will begin 100 days into the new administration of Mellie Grant (Bellamy Young), the country's first female president. Cyrus Beane (Jeff Perry) is the vice president, and Olivia Pope (Kerry Washington) is Mellie's chief of staff.

Wait. There's more.

Olivia has embraced her Darth Vader side by becoming the head of the newly reinstated covert, corrupt, super secret, omnipotent, black-ops clandestine, government agency known as B613. Jake Ballard (Scott Foley) is working at Olivia's side.

Yeah, B613 is bad. Very bad. This is the outfit formerly run by Olivia's father, Rowan (Joe Morton). Among other things, B613 handles torture and assassination and makes it look like suicide.

Meanwhile, the pregnant Quinn Perkins (Katie Lowes) has inherited Olivia's old crisis management firm, which is now Quinn Perkins and Associates. Abby Whelan (Darby Stanchfield) is her right-hand gal. Huck (Guillermo Diaz) and Quinn's baby daddy/fiance, Charlie (Little Rock native George Newbern), are her dedicated gladiators.

Former president Fitzgerald Grant III (Tony Goldwyn) is now focused on his library and foundation, and David Rosen (Josh Malina) remains the attorney general.

The 52-year-old Newbern, who got his start playing nice guys (Designing Women, Father of the Bride, Adventures in Babysitting), is going against type on Scandal. Charlie may be charming, but he is also a sociopath.

He began his acting career at age 13 in Arkansas Arts Center Children's Theatre productions and has been married to actress and fellow Northwestern University graduate Marietta DePrima (The Hughleys) since 1990.

Newbern, who was promoted to a series regular for Scandal's final season, recently told Parade magazine, "Life is great and I have no complaints. I have two girls [Emma and Mae] in college, and a boy [Ben] in the eighth grade. I keep all irons in the fire, because you never know. Otherwise, life gets boring."

Once Upon a Time, 7 p.m. Friday on ABC. Season 6 ended May 14 in a major game-changer for the fantasy that, in effect, gives us a brand new series with several new characters.

The creative reboot involves the exit of six series regulars, including the Big 3 of Jennifer Morrison (Emma Swan), Ginnifer Goodwin (Snow White), and Josh Dallas (Prince Charming). The others are Jared S. Gilmore (Henry), Emilie de Ravin (Belle) and Rebecca Mader (Zelena).

Joining the series are Dania Ramirez (Devious Maids) as Cinderella, and Gabrielle Anwar (Burn Notice) as Cinderella's wicked stepmother, Lady Tremaine.

About whether the changes will revitalize the show, ABC Entertainment head Channing Dungey said at the TV critics summer press tour, "A lot of it is going to depend on how these new characters and this new story line resonates. If it does, we have the opportunity to tell multiple years with these new characters and if not, we'll ... talk about how we wind it down. What they've got planned is really spectacular."

The biggest change was a major jump in time that finds young Henry Mills now an adult played by Andrew J. West (The Walking Dead). Henry learns he has a daughter, Lucy (Alison Fernandez). We can thank yet another curse for this twist.

This season we find Lucy having to convince the long lost Henry "to help save the happy endings just like Emma once did."

The action will shift from Storybrooke to Hyperion Heights and the curse will also affect Hook (Colin O'Donoghue), Regina (Lana Parrilla) and Rumpelstiltskin (Robert Carlyle).

Evidence that ABC is hedging its bets on the reboot is that the show has been shifted from the important Sunday lineup (replaced by Shark Tank) to the least important night of Friday. But the network is at least going for a fantasy theme package because Marvel's Inhumans, which had a two-hour premiere last week, slips into its regular time slot at 8 p.m. Friday following Once Upon a Time.

The TV Column appears Sunday, Tuesday and Thursday. Email:

mstorey@arkansasonline.com

Weekend on 10/05/2017

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