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TV Review: Shark (Pilot)

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Another new CBS show for the Fall 2006 season is Shark, starring James Woods as a cutthroat high-dollar defense lawyer who switches over to the prosecution side. I absolutely love to watch James Woods work, and here he has a meaty role as a lawyer named Stark whose nickname is, quite appropriately, Shark.

I haven't watched a "law" show on TV on a regular basis since L.A. Law and that was a long time ago. Yes, I've popped in on Boston Legal a time or two, but I really feel like I watch enough TV as it is. However, it was interesting to sit back and watch something in this genre once again.

James Woods as SharkThe show opens with Shark defending a prior-arrest wife-beater on an attempted murder charge. We're treated immediately to Woods in all his acting glory, convincing the jury his client did not try to murder his wife. Of course he is successful and both the accused and his wife thank Shark for his work.

It is no surprise when six days later the wife turns up dead. The husband is apprehended by police in his kitchen wearing a blood-spattered shirt. He states smugly "You might as well let me go now, here's my lawyer" when Shark walks in, obviously distraught at what has happened.

Through a bit of lighthearted extortion, the mayor of L.A. recruits Shark to work for the "other side," as a prosecutor for the city. Shark has no choice, but doesn't relish the thought as he believes the staff is incompetent – he has never lost a case to them. The lead prosecutor is played by Jeri Ryan (of Star Trek: Voyager fame) and she has no love for Shark, who she thinks has no ethics when it comes to winning a case at any cost.

From there we are introduced to his staff, a not-sufficiently-motivated-up- until-this-point group of young lawyers comprised of handsome men and attractive women. Here is where some of the fun starts as Woods chews them a new one, giving them real-world advice and instruction on what exactly is involved in winning a jury trial. They have 48 hours to try to prosecute a seemingly impossible case. I'll leave it to you to guess whether they succeed or not.

Shark is divorced, amicably, and has a 16-year-old daughter who has to choose between going to New York with her mother and the mom's new fiancee or staying in L.A. with her much-less-than-perfect dad. This relationship is to show the "softer" side of Shark, and works for the most part… until the end where it descended into schmaltz. In addition, at the end of the episode, the daughter acted way older than 16 years old in regard to being wise.

Except for that last couple of minutes, I really enjoyed it and let's face it, the real reason to watch the show is to see James Woods do his thing in what is a perfect role for him. If you're into courtroom drama with a bit of fun thrown in, I think this one is worth checking out.

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  • The show is on the nose, but it’s not *that* on the nose. Woods’ character’s last name is “Stark”…

  • I’ll be damned… you’re right, it IS Stark.