Shark Season 1

Shark Season 1
The frequency with which big screen stars are gravitating towards the small screen these days means that the shock at seeing famous actors turning up in their own shows isn’t that great any more. Still, the combination of James Woods as the lead and Spike Lee as the director of the pilot episode of Shark must have been too much for CBS to resist and it’s become a mainstay of their dramatic line-up after just one year. It tells the tale of Sebastian Stark, a ruthless defence attorney (nicknamed Shark) who’s become disillusioned with the system after one particular case. He’s recruited by the Los Angeles District Attorney’s office to become a prosecutor who’ll bring the same "win at all costs” mentality to the good guys. He also has to contend with Danielle, his teenage daughter, who chooses to stay with him when her mother moves away. Their attempt at establishing a normal father/daughter relationship after years of estrangement is the show’s effort to show a softer side of Woods’s character. But the main part of each episode takes place in the courtroom and that’s where Shark is at its most entertaining, thanks to strong performances from the main characters, including Jeri Ryan as the D.A. Shark takes elements from other hit shows, such as the unconventional antihero of House and the apparently unbeatable legal team of Boston Legal, yet it manages to stop short of becoming just another law show. Seeing Woods chew up the courtroom on a weekly basis is entertaining enough and definitely makes the show successful, but the attempts to add some kind of side story with his daughter feel tacked on and awkward. Plus, they are the least interesting element of the series, recycling all kinds of TV clichés in a very unsatisfying way. The 22 episodes that make up the first season are a little on the uneven side, particularly the latter half, where it feels like the writers were simply going through the motions. Thankfully, that’s turned around by the season finale, which has an incredible climax where Woods lives up to his character’s nickname. It would have been very easy for Shark to blend into an already crowded landscape of crime shows but thanks to James Woods’s commanding presence, it’s much more than the sum of its parts, particularly for fans of the actor. The sixth disc in the set contains all the extras (apart from a couple of commentary tracks) but they really aren’t much to write home about. The deleted scenes are all grouped together, sometimes making it hard to determine which episode they belong to, while the gag reel is the standard collection of flubbed lines and cursing. The 20-minute "Creating Shark” featurette is a little more substantial but is too self-congratulatory, as if they were making Citizen Kane instead of a one-hour TV drama. (Fox)