Shark: Dial "M" for Monica
When he gets the call, err ... the text message, Stark is out trying to convince his daughter Julie to let him buy her a $2000 dress for some event Julie's not that shallow, but it does beg the question: how is Stark managing to maintain his lifestyle on a Los Angeles County salary? Ah, never mind, Stark's hardly the first television character to live beyond his means. Maybe he invests well.
Shark keeps getting some solid guests stars. "The Monica" of the title is played by Kari Matchett, of ABC's short-lived Invasion. Ron Glass is back as a Judge Fenton, and Ileana Douglas makes her first appearance as a new semi-regular legal rival of Stark.
Monica is a high-end L.A. madame, a Heidi Fleiss -type, I guess, with the requisite client list of bigwigs. So again Stark faces a potential political minefield while trying to prosecute a case while protecting reputations -- including, it turns out, his own. That a madam would order a hit on a call-girl for trying to switch agencies, seems a bit thin for motivation though. On the plus side, the episode once again concentrates on the investigation, staying away from grandstanding and courtroom theatrics, which allows the show to focus more on the entire ensemble.
Speaking of that ensemble, Raina keeps getting paired with Isaac on investigations, but so far the only sexual tension between them seems to have been in resident dirty-girl Madeline's mind last week. Madeline's the only character on the show who thinks about sex all the time at work. She's got Sam pretty-well wrapped around her finger. Now, if either Raina or Madeline did develop a thing for Isaac (or he for one of them) maybe it would give him more to do other than just ask a few cop-like interview questions, or tell Stark that he's "on it" when strings need to be pulled. I'm just used to seeing Henry Simmons in a much larger role, because of NYPD Blue. I'm still hoping that will come. His character on this show is a very similar type of person as Stark himself. Both are willing to cut corners and do whatever to win, as long they believe they're right. Exploring what effect that has on Isaac's personal relationships, the way they've explored the relationship between Stark and his daughter, might make make some interesting stories.
The series has been developing characters by bringing them into the foreground slowly. I can't complain about that, as some of them, Raina and Madeline especially, who weren't given that much to do earlier on, are interesting now. If only they could get Jessica Devlin to cheer up. Seriously, why is Jeri Ryan's character so miserable all the time? Maybe there's a story or two there as well.
A quintessential Stark moment comes when he tries to get Monica to hurry-up and sign her plea-bargain papers while her lawyer is on the phone. Woops. But, Raina has my favorite moment of the night a couple scenes earlier, when Stark has his signature fourth-act epiphany about what is really going on in the case. "Oh God," she say, "here we go."
Stark takes a couple hits back to back in the final scenes. At work he is thanked for "taking the bullit" that would have hit his boss (and former client), but wistfully comments that he wished his name hadn't appeared in the madam's date book, however innocently. The second blow comes at home, when Julie leaves him a phone message, that means she's growing up more quickly than he wishes.