Friday, February 16, 2007


There's a show on CBS that I began watching a few weeks ago. It's called Shark. It's about a LA (where else?) DA who specializes in solving high-profile criminal cases. I've maybe seen four or five episodes. There is a clear and unfortunately, predictable formula that is emerging. Viewers of this will know what I'm talking about.

  1. A crime is committed. This is usually a murder. We only see glimpses and flashes. It's never clear exactly what happened, but we know it can't be good.
  2. Shark, the DA, who has no life, immediately appears on the crime scene, talks fast, barks orders, and returns home where he struggles to have a relationship with his almost-college-aged daughter.
  3. Evidence starts to become clear. It points to Shark's initial hunch. Who's guilty? A spouse, usually. Things are going well. The trial starts but you know things are going a little too well. There is, after all, a half-hour left. Something has to go wrong. Sure enough,
  4. something comes out of nowhere. It is usually an unexpected person, an unlikely piece of evidence, or a simple oversight on the part of the suave DA A-team. Totally disrupts the plan. It looks like the one we thought a minute a go was so going to jail is about to get off free. Is he really guilty?
  5. But wait. Someone says something. Something that's maybe always been there but always overlooked comes to Shark's Holmes-like attention, and ah-ha, with 15 minutes left, he yells more orders to his team, go find out this, get someone to admit to this, stall this person and before you know it,
  6. we're back in court in the closing scene, showing that Shark's instincts were right after all and presto-chango, original suspect goes to jail.
So what's the problem with this? A good mystery seems like it oughta supply the viewer (or reader) with all the necessary information up front, so that we can play along at home. This doesn't happen. We can guess at certain details to try to fill in the blanks, but there's no Matlock-like put-it-all-together at the end, only new material that of course would point to an obvious conclusion. I don't watch crime shows for some reason, and maybe this is why. This show, if it represents the popular genre, is far too tidy. One hour, crime committed, suspect nabbed, suspect almost gets off, DA discovers something (along with the viewers), back to the court room, suspect found guilty, DA makes a cleaver quip toward the unlikely chief DA, reconciles with his daughter in some sub-plot, and just like in real life, wraps it up in an hour.

I'm already board with it...I thought I once liked it. I guess my Thursday night TV viewing is just gonna be a half hour of 30 Rock. Maybe some Office too.