Stars: Kerry Washington, Tony Goldwyn, Columbus Short, Darby Stanchfield, Katie Lowes, Guillermo Diaz, Joshua Malina, Jeff Perry
Premiere date: September 27

It's no mystery that Hollywood isn't exactly a fruitful terrain for black actresses looking to expand their portfolios beyond sassy love interest parts and insufferable Tyler Perry movies. So kudos to the gifted Kerry Washington for landing a formidable character in ABC's politically charged, deftly conceived drama Scandal.

At the forefront minute by minute, Washington (who'll soon keep her hot streak going in Quentin Tarantino's Django Unchained) is all imposing presence and commanding energy as a crisis management expert tasked with keeping staff members inside the White House from monumentally tarnishing their careers. Easier said than done, of course, but Scandal's nonstop CNN-serving conflicts afford Washington with plenty of room to show and prove.