Tuesday, April 29, 2008

'Shark' Swims Again

Tonight marks the return of the law drama "Shark" (CBS, 9 p.m.), a show fairly derivative of Fox's superior "House."

The main difference between the two shows is that the larger-than-life lead character, Sebastian Stark (James Woods), is a lawyer and has a teenaged daughter while House (Hugh Laurie) is a doctor and completely alone.

But both shows are structured essentially the same. Stark and his minions get a weekly case that seems unwinnable, only to have Stark pull a brilliant legal trick to win in the end. "Shark" isn't a bad show, but is a good example of the sort of formulaic hour-long crime dramas CBS is famous for.

One of main things I wish "Shark" would do more of is develop the supporting cast better. Though the supporting doctors on "House" don't get a whole lot to do, at least we care about them as people. In "Shark," we rarely get that with the lawyers working for Stark.

Tonight's episode, the first new one since the strike, picks up with Stark facing both criminal charges and losing his law license after helping cover up a murder for his client (Jonathan Banks) years earlier. But that character is a small fish, and a tough U.S. Attorney (Paula Marshall) is pushing Stark to help net Banks' sociopathic partner, who ordered the original murder to cover up a bigger crime.

It's a pretty strong episode and something of a roller coaster ride as we see Stark facing up to the worst mistake he's ever made and risking losing everything. Marshall, who is filling in for Jeri Ryan while Ryan is on maternity leave, has some good chemistry with Woods.

The worst moments for "Shark" for me are usually the ones with his daughter (Danielle Panabaker), who is written as so consistently whiny and annoying, it's hard to care about her. She continues that streak tonight.

I'm not sure if "Shark" has been officially renewed yet, so the ratings for the next few episodes in its new timeslot could be critical. A new episode of "NCIS" at 8 p.m. as a lead-in should help.

TUESDAY'S BEST BETS: Another crime drama that is testing a new timeslot and night for a ratings boost is "Women's Murder Club," (ABC, 10 p.m.) back with a new episode and new showrunners. This quirky little crime drama could get a big boost not only from switching away from the Friday night wasteland, but also following "Dancing With The Stars" at 9 p.m.

"Law & Order: SVU" (NBC, 10 p.m.) has guest star Robin Williams playing a character who does all sorts of crazy antics. Boy, never seen that before.

Fox's highly rated reality lineup of "American Idol" and "Hell's Kitchen" puts its contestants through the grinder once more.

On cable, "The Riches" (FX, 10 p.m.) is all new.

Finally, the documentary "Carrier" (PBS, 9 p.m.) continues tonight. It follows a rerun of "Nova," also about giant naval vessels, this one about the sinking of the Japanese supership the Yamamoto in 1945.


Jonathan said...

I agree with you on your assessment of "Shark," it's not a bad show by any means, but if it were to dissapear would anyone really miss it? Same could probably be said for "Women's Murder Club."

I've always pulled for "Shark" because of how much I like James Woods, but the rest of the cast, even Jeri Ryan, are little more than window dressing. I wonder if we could just take the best characters from mediocre procedurals and make a hell of a show.

Get Miguel Ferrer (Crossing Jordan and Bionic Woman, both defunct), James Woods, the cute as hell Emily Procter (CSI:Miami), and Angie Harmon (WMC). Together that could be a pretty cool show, I think.

Phillip Ramati said...

For me, the episodes of Shark where Jeri Ryan gets to do something are the best ones. They could really make her a foil for Stark, a' la Cuddy to House.

Hmm, the all-star team of procedural characters? Maybe fans can vote, then we get them all together for one big case. You have to throw in Emily Deschanel from Bones and anyone of the NCISers.

zodin2008 said...

Ahhhh...yet another night to watch sports and catch up on my DVR.

Jonathan said...

I didn't include "Bones" and "NCIS" because those shows are fine on their own. I was more or less going by mediocre to flat out terrible ones. But Emily Deschanel is always on the invite list as far as I'm concerned.