“Shark” (Thursdays, CBS): What’s not to love about James Woods? “Shark,” in which he plays a conniving defense attorney who must start using his weaselly powers for good when he joins the district attorney’s team, gives him snarky dialogue, a lovably arrogant attitude, and plenty of fellow lawyers to bounce his craziness off of. The show also gives him a teenage daughter to care for, and what appears to be an actual three-dimensional personality. I do have to take points off for using two clichÃ© lines that no one in real life ever says. After being approached by the mayor to join the DA’s office, Woods says, “Give me one reason why I should do this.” (Only TV and movie characters say that.) And later, when Woods learns his daughter might move to New York with her mother, he is forlorn, causing a colleague to say, “You look like you just lost your best friend.” (Again: No one ever says that.) Woods compounds the offense by replying soberly, “I’m about to lose more than that.” Aaaaaagggghhh. Anyway, those two instances notwithstanding, the writing is sharp and fast-paced. I like the idea of the prosecution being as snaky about putting away criminals as the defenders are about exonerating them. But my TiVo verdict is that I have too many legal shows to watch as it is. If you have an open slot, however, I recommend this one.
“Heroes” (Mondays, NBC): One of the most-hyped new shows of the season turns out to be one of the best, too. The pilot episode of this series about young people discovering they have supernatural powers was only OK, save for a couple of unforeseen twists near the end. But previews for upcoming episodes show that the series — an “X-Men” clone, obviously, but so what? — has some very original ideas up its sleeve. If the writing becomes as interesting as the premise now that the exposition is out of the way, we could have a truly great series on our hands. TiVo verdict: Season Pass.
“Help Me Help You” (Tuesdays, ABC): I hate the title, but this sitcom (with no laugh track!) about a know-it-all shrink whose personal life is a wreck is actually pretty funny. Ted Danson plays the psychiatrist the same likable way he played Sam Malone on “Cheers”: cocky and dumb at the same time. Jane Kaczmarek (the mom from “Malcolm in the Middle”) plays his soon-to-be ex-wife, and the loonies who comprise Danson’s group therapy patients are all amusing in their own quirky ways. Writing seems snappy and the direction is deadpan, no huge wacky stuff. TiVo verdict: It’s a keeper.