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WOODS GIVES CBS' `SHARK' LOTS OF BITE.

Byline: David Kronke Television Critic

James Woods' mercurial brilliance and arrogance make him a perfect fit for his first TV series, ``Shark.''

Woods stars as Sebastian Stark, a brilliant defense attorney who loses his stomach for the game when a client he successfully represents murders his wife, sending him into paroxysms of self-doubt and, eventually, to assisting L.A.'s district attorney.

Naturally, his first case as a public servant is none too promising: prosecuting a pop vixen (think pre-K-Fed Britney or ``Dirrrty''-era Christina Aguilera) accused of murdering the guy who taped a Paris-Hilton-style sex video. Not helping his case is the assortment of greenhorn attorneys assigned to assist him and the requisite unexpected revelations.

``Your job is to win,'' Stark declares to his charges; ``justice is God's problem.'' His boss (Jeri Ryan) informs him,

``You're not exactly hero material.''

Maybe, but Woods is great fun to watch, bringing the same sort of wired, crazily self-righteous energy he infused into his Oscar-nominated turn in ``Salvador'' and so many others of his compulsively watchable movies. He gives the crackling dialogue even more pop.

To humanize Stark just enough, creator Ian Biederman has given him a soulful and, given the circumstances, oddly sane daughter (Danielle Panabaker). But Stark/Woods is best when venting with his fiery, acerbic righteousness.

David Kronke, (818) 713-3638

david.kronke@dailynews.com

SHARK - Three and one half stars

What: James Woods stars as a charismatic, high-profile defense attorney who, after a crisis of confidence, lends his skills to L.A.

Where: CBS (Channel 2).

When: 10 tonight.

In a nutshell: Woods' electric performance keeps the series compulsive viewing.

CAPTION(S):

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Photo:

(color) James Woods is a high-profile defense attorney who becomes an assistant D.A. after a crisis of conscience, with Jeri Ryan as his boss, in ``Shark,'' debuting tonight on CBS.
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Publication:Daily News (Los Angeles, CA)
Date:Sep 21, 2006
Words:305
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