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"Shark" Review by Suzanne 9/22/06

"Shark" pic of James Woods

"Shark" has some things in common with the other new show "Justice". Both shows are about high-powered defense attorneys in Los Angeles who are not very likable people and use modern courtroom techniques and electronics to win their cases (while grabbing the media spotlight). There are two main differences.

At the beginning of "Shark", the attorney switches sides and becomes a prosecutor instead. That is difference number one. Personally, I tend to like to watch defense attorney shows because, at least on TV, they are largely there to help the falsely accused. Prosecutors are there to put people on jail. It's true that on TV they try to slant it toward how they are avenging the victim, or helping the victim's family, but still it's hard for me to root for their side. With shows like "Law & Order", it's not so much about rooting for one side or the other but about the mystery of the crime--who did it and how will the catch them? That doesn't seem to be the issue with Shark at all, so I don't know if I will continue watching it or not.

The other difference is in the style of the show and the way it handles the characteres. "Justice" is all about glitz, glamour, and snappy dialogue. The lead character is not only unlikable, he has no family to soften him. He is unlikable and his only redeeming quality seems to be that he's a great lawyer. The show is not really about the characters or their lives, so they are rather undefined. It is all about their work--how they get their defendent off and what good lawyers they are.

Shark is completely different. While the main character is abrasive, he has a daughter to make him more sympathetic. In fact, you might say the whole show is about his redeeming himself. In the first episode, the client he defended for attacking his wife kills her, and that makes him feel bad, which is why he takes the DA's offer to join his team. He learns to use his shark lawyer techniques but without being quite so unfeeling or uncaring as he was before. There is a lot of "heart" in this show and it goes into the lives of the characters.

While the star of "Justice", Victor Garber, is a fine actor, he is no James Woods (the star of "Shark"). James Woods is one of the best actors around, period, so he is the main saving grace of his show. The writing is not nearly as good or as tight as that of "Justice". Perhaps it will improve. If not, I hope Woods can find a better show that will make it worth his while. Jeri Ryan (Star Trek: Voyager and Boston Public) has a small role that I hope will grow. I don't see much chemistry between her and Woods, but we are clearly supposed to think there is. The only other actor I recognize is Sam Page, who is a very good actor that has been on "All My Children" and many other primetime shows.

If you like a show that is one part law drama and two parts soap opera, you should like "Shark". If you like fine acting more than great story, you should love it.

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Updated 9/22/06 


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