Thursday, September 28, 2006

The Swan Tunes In: Shark

Aside from a 10 p.m. timeslot and a one-word, five-letter title beginning with "S," CBS' new legal drama Shark — the sophomore episode of which airs tonight — shares one more feature in common with Smith, another new crime show on the Eye Network. Both series showcase lead actors better known from their appearances in feature films than for their small-screen work.

Unlike Smith, however, which surrounds headliner Ray Liotta with a superlative, familiar-face cast and a taut, crackling storyline, Shark is pretty much James Woods and not much else.

Unless costar Jeri Ryan offers you two additional reasons to watch.

In Shark, Woods plays Sebastian Stark (and if you can't figure out what his nickname is, you're just not paying attention), a legendary defense attorney who decides to change sides after a client he helped acquit reoffends in violent fashion. Taking control of the Los Angeles District Attorney's newly formed High Profile Cases unit, the Shark assembles a flotilla of eager young prosecutors and proceeds to school them (snicker) in the underhanded legal chicanery that earned him millions.

The main problem with the series, judging by last week's pilot episode (directed by firebrand filmmaker Spike Lee), is that the show's producers (led by Ron Howard's frequent collaborator, Brian Grazer) aren't content to let the Shark be a shark. They're going overboard to soften his rapacious persona by surrounding him with attractive young lawyers and a cute teenage daughter.

Why does that make sense? If I want to see a warm, cuddly TV lawyer, I'll catch a Matlock rerun. My whole reason for switching on Shark is to watch James Woods — one of this generation's most compelling screen presences — at his cutthroat, vicious, antiheroic best. If CBS insists on filing down the Shark's teeth, there won't be much here to hold anyone's interest.

Except, of course, for Jeri Ryan.

My advice to Grazer and company: Back-bench the kids, and let Woods really cut loose. Otherwise, I won't be swimming with Shark by midseason.

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2 insisted on sticking two cents in:

Blogger Janet offered these pearls of wisdom...

With all of the new shows I have given a shot this season, Shark just wasnt on my list. Maybe it was some sort of subconcious oversight on my part. Smith on the other hand I did watch the first episode of. I have the 2nd one tivoed, but I dont have high hopes it is my cup of tea. It's ok if it doesnt work out though. I watch entirely too much tv anyhow:)

4:51 PM  
Blogger Joel offered these pearls of wisdom...

Jeri has been a busy grrrl. She needs to switch to something different like sci-fi.

Oh, wait :)

Seriously, wouldn't she be great in SG-1 or--gasp!--BSG?

8:50 PM  

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