Thursday, September 21, 2006

It took a couple seasons, but here's the first of the blatant House knockoffs. Take an underutilized character actor, have him play an incredibly skilled, but socially maladjusted professional - instant hit. The only problem with this approach is that it depends almost entirely on the actor. Hugh Laurie is almost good enough to offset whatever other missteps the show makes (note the word "almost" - the back-to-back arcs featuring Chi McBride and Sela Ward were enough to drive me away), but the same cannot be said for, say, Jeff Goldblum (whose House-knockoff we'll review closer to air date).

Fortunately, the producers of Shark had the good sense to cast James Woods. I'm sure there are other who don't like James Woods as much as I do, but I'm willing to watch James Woods in just about anything as long as he's an asshole and berating people. Fortunately, a significant portion of Shark involved an assholic Woods berating his staff.

The premise is kind of flimsy. Woods (whose character is, in fact, named Shark) starts off as a high-priced defense attourney who suffers a crisis of conscience when he gets a very guilty client off on a spousal abuse charge, after which said client kills off his wife. After a little wallowing, he ends up running an elite unit of the Los Angeles' District Attourney's office working with high profile media cases. Which is to say, the legal equivalent of House's elite unit of diagnosticians.

What's really impressive is that this show is virtually the same in its "behind the scenes of high-profile media cases" as Justice, which completely failed to hold my interest in any way. Maybe I'm just easily entertained, but having some James Woods to fall back on makes even a trite legal drama enjoyable.

Reviewed by Padgett Arango
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The Exorcism of Emily Rose

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