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TV Review: ABC's 'Shark Tank'

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'Shark Tank'
One star
8 p.m. Sunday, WLS-Channel 7

The legendary Mark Burnett is the reality producer who brought us "Survivor," "The Apprentice," "The Restaurant," "The Casino," "Rock Star," "The Contender," "Are You Smarter Than a 5th Grader?" and "My Dad Is Better Than Your Dad."

He has officially run out of ideas.

There are so many things I hate about his new show, "In the Shark Tank," that I started numbering them just to calm down. Where to start?

1. It's humiliating.

And not in a fun way. We watch struggling entrepreneurs nervously pitch their inventions or ideas to five intimidating captains of industry. This is apparently a show for people who don't get enough salestalk in their everyday lives - people who enjoy engaging with telemarketers, for instance.

2. The rich get richer.

I think the show was intended to be inspiring. Instead, we are essentially guests at the most self-congratulating boardroom meeting of all time, as the "sharks" decide whether to invest their own money or not. Will their attention truly help these small businesses? Or are we enabling and televising the sharks as they fleece the little guys?

3. There's no drama.

The most exciting part of each segment is watching the aspiring businessperson walk into the room. Seriously. There's dramatic music, and the moment is stretched out. Not since "America's Next Top Model" have I wished for someone to trip just to break up the monotony.

The closest thing to action is watching the kajillionaires [ital]think.[unital] Occasionally we are treated to someone biting a lip (their own, unfortunately).

4. The sharks don't attack anyone.

They just swim around and around as everyone talks. Disappointing.

5. The judges are trying too hard.

God bless Kevin O'Leary for wanting to be interesting, but he's so intent on offering up soundbites that he doesn't make sense. "I don't get emotional about money," he says at one point. "I just want to make more of it." But later, he calls an entrepreneur a "pig" for being greedy. Hypocritical much?

6. There is math involved.

The big moment is when and if an offer is made - an offer that involves percentages, profit margins, projected earnings and so on. "That's a great offer," one of the sharks reassures an entrepreneur. Is it? I couldn't begin to figure out what numbers to punch into the calculator.

7. The product placement is off the charts.

The sharks are promoting their personal brands. The small businesses are building buzz, whether they get an offer or not. Even McDonald's gets a gratuitous shout-out. I see where this is going.

I wasn't far into the first episode before I started musing about all the other things I'd rather be watching:

1. A commercial, which mercifully only lasts 30 seconds.

2. The rich people date each other. (Who picks up the check? Your penthouse or mine?)

3. A double bill of "Better Off Ted," which has much better inventions, and TV Land's "How'd You Get So Rich?," which truly is inspiring.

The irony is that Burnett also produced the Joan Rivers-hosted TV Land show, so after all this at least we know how he got so rich: by creating his own competition.


Meet the sharks

Barbara Corcoran, who parlayed a $1,000 loan into a $5 billion real estate business.

Kevin Harrington, the CEO of TVGoods.com, who pioneered the infomercial industry.

Robert Herjavec, the son of Croatian immigrants, who sold his first technology company - valued at $100 million - to AT&T.

Daymond John, son of a Queens single mother, the founder of FUBU sportswear ("For Us, By Us").

Kevin O'Leary, the founder of SoftKey Software, which sold to Mattel for $3.7 billion. He now considers himself an "eco-preneur."

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6 Comments

Yeah, at some point they are harsh, but I think that's reality, people are not always nice especially when we talk about money, and the criticism? I guess they just have to take it as constructive criticism, because sometimes our friends and relatives won't say something that will hurt our feelings and these sharks are willing to say it. Sometimes it's lack of proper preparation that make them look funny infront of a nationwide or even international Television.

Actually I think this show is great. As a small businessman who has flirted with venture capitalists it is a great learning tool. A couple lessons I learned early on in real-life could have been learned sooner from watching this show. Call the sharks what you will, they are a very real reflection of the ventur capitalism world in the US today.

I did not think they were overly harsh, they are just trying to get the best deal possible for themselves as they should be. Where would they be if they didn't do that in the real world?

As far as I can tell, from the first two episodes, those that were told their ideas were no good needed someone to tell them that. Especially the Wispot guy, he either did a horrible job of explaining the concept or he squandered his life savings on a really bad idea.

I really like this show. I really like the canadian version of dragons den, and this one seems a little more tension filled and they seem to have a lot more money at their disposal. I like the fact that Kevin O'leary and Robert Herjavec seem to be leading the show. They have a lot of experience in this type of tv dealings. It seems that they are trying to make deals on ideas that are a little more risky then they both would on the series dragons den. They must be getting more kickbacks from ABC. I like it though. If they didn't have Keven and Robert, it would not be nearly as good though. They are both great tv personalities, good friends, and are willing to screw eachother over at the drop of the hat.

This show is definitely creating controversy. But more significantly, this IS reality. If you ever try to raise venture capital for your idea, this is what you will face. This show is fantastic!

I think the author of this article simply does not understand the show. If someone has a bad idea and is draining away their life savings, shouldn't someone who has no bias tell them it is a bad idea and stop. This show is far better than most a the crap on American television.

I think people like the sharks are what helped to bring America to its knees. Greed is not good. I had to stop watching after they loaned the pie man $460,000 for a 50% stake in his business! I'm sorry, but that seems like theft. They have billions, why couldn't they have helped him more rather than pillage him. Disgusting!

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