"Scandal" is back -- with its highest ratings yet.
ABC's political thriller starring Kerry Washington as a Beltway crisis manager returned for Season 3 Thursday with a series-best 10.5 million total viewers, according to Nielsen.
Maybe more important, the season premiere easily won its 10 p.m. time slot and was the second best-rated program of the night -- surpassed only by CBS' sitcom smash "The Big Bang Theory."
That sure looks like a hit.
So how'd it happen? "Scandal" -- which got mixed reviews from critics -- saw its ratings swing up last season, as viewers discovered the same mix of real-world workplace settings and juicy soap-opera conventions that creator Shonda Rhimes exploited in "Grey's Anatomy."
Also, it probably didn't hurt that BET started airing repeats from the first two seasons in the weeks leading up to the Season 3 premiere.
Whatever the explanation, ABC has a 10 p.m. hit on its hands.
And these days, just uttering the phrase "10 p.m. hit" is news for broadcasters.
What do you think of "Scandal"?