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June 30, 2015

Shark -- an early look

by Michael Canfield, posted Sep 14th 2006 2:01PM
James Woods as Having read or seen next to nothing about this show -- only that it stars one of my favorite actors, James Woods (stepping away from the Hold'em table) and involves lawyering -- I found my excitement-level raise immediately in the opening scene when the action cuts away from Woods' closing arguments in a trial, to Jeri Ryan rolling her eyes at him in the courtroom audience. She plays District Attorney Jessica Devlin. Okay, I'm in for now.

Woods plays Sebastian Stark. That's Stark, not Shark. Don't call him "the Shark" he hates that, at least that's what he says, although there's evidence to the contrary too. Not unexpectedly, Stark is in love with himself, and has mad skills at getting the rich and famous off the hook. Shark the series has a "what-if" premise. What if a high-priced defense lawyer had a crisis of conscience and decided to become a prosecutor? (Slight spoilers after the jump.)

James Woods & Jeri RyanSo, in an "only on TV" turnaround, the actions of one of Stark's clients post-acquittal causes Stark to reexamine his career and values. Coincidentally, the DA's office is looking to create a special until to go after high profile, rich offenders, and all they need is the right guy to head it. It's a mismatch made in TV-drama heaven.

While this is not a David E. Kelly show, Woods' character is cut of the same cloth as any number of Kelly creations: arrogant, horny, funny. Never mind -- James Woods is a fine actor, and he looks like he's having fun here. He has good chemistry with the surrounding cast which seem to be put on this earth in order to vex him in the way that cranky leads on television from Ralph Kramden to Dr. Gregory House have always been vexed. In addition to D.A. Jeri Ryan, there's a crew of idealistic young assistant D.A.'s (picked to work with Shark because they've all screwed up in some way, natch) and Stark's sassy sixteen-year-old daughter, Julie, played by Danielle Pannabaker. Do I have to mention that Shark is divorced and in a custody battle for his daughter? Probably not.

Okay, this isn't the most original of TV set-ups, but the cast is great, the dialog sharp, and after seeing the pilot (which is directed by Spike Lee) I'd say the series is worth a look.

Shark premieres on CBS Thursday, September 21, at 10pm.

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