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A poker game with the mayor gets Shark's team better offices. Detective Joe Rodriguez, LAPD undercover narcotics, is shot; the police still sees Shark as the enemy: this is his chance to change that by getting the cop killer convicted; D.A. Devlin accepts to put Shark on the case in the hope he'll fail. The suspect is Scott Ransom, from a rich family, twice escaped conviction for drug dealing, about to be arrested again with narcotics. His girl-friend is his alibi, his defense lawyer is Shark's best disciple, Elliott Dasher, no loss in years. Rodriguez' partner Isaac Wright witnessed everything except the actual shooting. Martin Allende is too direct when approaching the grieving family about possible character assassination by the defense. Casey Woodland must get forensic data before it is destroyed, while the judge is a noted stickler for search procedures. Ransom is arrested after the find of a bag of speed with his blood on it. Wright carries a grudge because Sharke suggested ... Written by
Whenever the title of a TV series episode is a lame pun on another show, I expect the worst, so despite the fact that I had enjoyed the pilot of Shark, I had reservations about the second episode, as it was, at least nominally, making fun of NYPD Blue. Fortunately, by the end of the show I realized the title was a fit choice, since one of the minor characters in the story is as flawed and troubled as the protagonists of Steven Bochco's essential cop drama.
The character in question is a police officer whose partner was killed during an undercover operation. The prime suspect is a drug dealer, and Stark accepts to prosecute him, only to run into problems almost immediately: first of all, he is on the LAPD's black list (big surprise: he used to get criminals out of jail); furthermore, the evidence incriminating the suspect appears to be fabricated; and just to make things better, it turns out the defense attorney (Zeljko Ivanek), who has never lost a trial before, is a former employee of Stark's...
The formula that was established in the first episode is defined properly in this story: the case is difficult, Stark's staff are appalled by his methods, and his corrosive wit is of great use in court. On a more private level, there's the small matter of his daughter having problems and not being sure whether to trust him or not. As a matter of fact, that's the only weak point of the show: no matter how nice the girl is, the whole can't-trust-the-old-man rubbish has been done, and better, in a dozen other programs. Even for a series as formulaic as Shark, it is one cliché too many.
The legal side of the episode, on the other hand, is brilliant: the drama is handled well, without having the writer indulge in any "tormented cop" stereotypes, and most of the characters are crafted with some degree of depth. Best of all, aside from the main player, is guest star Ivanek: a reliable bad guy on TV (his villainous CV includes Oz, 24 and Lost), he's a perfect choice for playing Stark's unscrupulous disciple, and his interactions with Woods are priceless, mostly because the two actors are essentially competing to see who is the sleaziest lawyer in the room.
In short, not the best thing available on television, but classy and fun nonetheless.
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