Thursday, September 21, 2006

TV premiering tonight: Shark & Six Degrees

Like last night's premieres, these are both shows that I had moderately high hopes for that turned out to be disappointing. Although Shark (CBS, Thursdays, 10 p.m.) is yet another legal procedural, I did think that James Woods might be able to elevate it above the tired old formula. Unfortunately, all he does is come in and chew scenery, and his showy acting makes the show worse rather than better by highlighting how mundane every other aspect is. The writing is bland, the cases are unexciting, the other characters are stock types and even Woods' character's backstory is trite and ineffective. When he's blustering about like a maniac, it's sort of entertaining (especially if you're a Woods fan already), but the rest of the time it's dull and predictable, and Woods' one-note shtick, while amusing, wears thin pretty quickly.

I was slightly more interested in Six Degrees (ABC, Thursdays, 10 p.m.), which comes from J.J. Abrams' production company, and thus even more disappointed that it turned out to be so drippy and annoying. Even with people like Hope Davis and Campbell Scott in the cast, it's a dreary and pretentious show about the most ephemeral and wishy-washy of concepts, the idea that everyone is connected to everyone else by only six people. So there are a bunch of semi-related people doing semi-related things, but the ways they overlap are all contrived, and not one is interesting enough to carry a show on their own. I guess they are trying to appeal to viewer's of Grey's Anatomy, which I find overwrought and shrill (and am sadly in the minority among TV viewers), and maybe it will work, since there is plenty of relationship angst. But this show is humorless and unengaging, and I would expect better from Abrams, even if all he's doing is acting as an executive producer.

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