“Scandal” (9 p.m., ABC) is ridiculous, but ridiculous in telling ways. Fresh-faced lawyer Quinn Perkins (Katie Lowes) nearly faints when she learns she has been hired by Olivia Pope (Kerry Washington). The mere mention of Pope’s name reduces the chatterbox Quinn to an awed silence.
That’s because Pope is a super problem solver, a former communications director for the White House who struck out on her own. Maybe she’s too big for the president. Pope has assembled a team of successful underlings who, over the first hour, contend with a kidnapper, a messy murder case involving a decorated veteran and political comer, and a sex scandal that could rock the Oval Office.
Pope barks orders and her minions jump. There’s no crying in her office. No dating. And, apparently, no time for sleeping.
‘‘Scandal” continues a trend in contemporary entertainment. It’s not enough to be a mere lawyer or doctor — you have to be the top one-tenth of 1 percent of all doctors in your class. You can’t merely have served in the military — you must be the most decorated soldier of your generation.
As late as the 1990s, John Grisham’s many novels celebrated lawyers with modest degrees taking on the big guys. Now you’re at the top of your Harvard class or a Navy SEAL. And you have to be gorgeous, too. And have superpowers.
This is all preposterous and slightly laughable — but no more so than “Person of Interest,” which asks us to invest God-like power in a supercomputer, or shows like “Heroes” or “Touch” that are about highly evolved super-achievers.
What, exactly, are these shows saying? Are we searching for something sublime, or being told to submit to unassailable elites who work outside of any man-made laws?
Tonight’s other highlights
• Pillows and blankets on “Community” (7 p.m., NBC).
• One contestant departs on “American Idol” (7 p.m., Fox).
• Becca’s mentor (Keith Carradine) chips in on “Missing” (7 p.m., ABC).
• “Truck Stop USA” (7 p.m., Travel) returns for a second season.
• Jack pities Pete on “30 Rock” (7:30 p.m., NBC).
• Crime bosses become a “Person of Interest” (8 p.m., CBS).
• A new encounter knew Martin’s late wife on “Touch” (8 p.m., Fox).
• Massive sculptures on “Sand Masters” (8 p.m., Travel).
• Foul play claims a popular teacher on “The Mentalist” (9 p.m., CBS).