Surprisingly, the freshman shows 2013-14 television season are offering some stiff competition for the veterans. Now that everyone is rolling out their November best for sweeps, it's time to grade your favorite returning shows. The SPOILER ALERT!! is implied...

"Scandal," Thursdays ABC, 10pm EST

The craziest thing about "Scandal" is an episode actually feels as good if not better than the 30-second trailers advertising the juiciest bits.  It's a thrill-ride that never stops thrilling, a heartbreak that never stops breaking...until now.  Before you call B6-13 to reserve some dark, torturous accommodations for yours truly, don't forget I was an immediate champion of the Shonda Rhimes creation.  However, this season has jumped the smallest of sharks by easing Kerry Washington's Olivia Pope out of the presidential cheating scandal with her reputation mostly intact.  Another Tiny White was jumped when Liv threw herself in front of sniper rifles to prevent a deranged mother wearing a suicide vest from being killed in "Mrs. Smith Goes To Washington."  Finally, it took a little too long to make use of Quinn's bourgeoning love of torture.  It's nice to see Katie Lowes finally get more than coffee and a few dramatic scraps.

"Scandal" has rebounded from these missteps with a string great episodes that highlight Bellamy Young's talents as the villainous and epic First Lady Mellie Grant.  After the fantastic "Everything's Coming Up Mellie" that dropped more bombs than Shock and Awe, "Scandal" has returned to its titillating best.  Grade: A-