Shark Tank On ABC – TV Review

Finally!

On Sunday, August 9th at 9/8c, America finally gets a shot at a show I’ve been watching Canadian and British versions of for years.  It’s coming to you on ABC as Shark Tank, but the other versions are both called Dragon’s Den.  For those who may be familiar, things are pretty much the same… only with sharks.

sharktank3
ABC/CRAIG SJODIN

For the uninitiated, Shark Tank brings together five “sharks,” who are millionaire investors, and brings people with businesses and ideas to them in hopes of getting at least one of the sharks to put up their own money to take that business to the next level.  That’s right, their own money.  The show isn’t about winning anything, and it isn’t a best invention competition.  It’s just pitching to potential investors and trying to close a deal.  “Contestants” may have a product, a business, or just an idea, and they get the chance to get some venture capitol.

The British and Canadian versions of the show have mixed around their Dragons from time to time, and I’m sure there’s a good chance that will ultimately be the case here as well.  As we start though, the five Sharks are: real estate mogul Barbara Corcoran, “infomercial” industry pioneer Kevin Harrington, technology innovator Robert Herjavec, fashion icon Daymond John and financial expert Kevin O’Leary.

ABC/CRAIG SJODIN
ABC/CRAIG SJODIN

Those hoping to get a deal make their way into the tank, and then have to hope they not only have a great idea, but can deliver on their short presentation.  They have to decide on the amount of money they want and what percentage of their company they’re willing to give up for that money.  They might get a deal, or the Sharks might counter for a bigger percentage.  Anything can happen though, and sometimes the Sharks might like a concept, but find the person behind it a little too flaky to invest in.

The other versions have shown that this can really be an interesting and fun ride.  It’s a great watch just to see some of the ideas, whether brilliant or crazy (and the first episode has the craziest thing you’ve ever seen), and often to see people who have fought and scratched for years get an amazing opportunity.  You have to remember, that while the money is great, the real goal for many people is just to have one of the Sharks as their business partner.

From the next big thing, to people who ludicrously overvalue their company, to those who just don’t know a great offer when they hear it, the show makes for really great television.  Believe me, you never know what’s coming next.  Also part of the fun (at least in the other versions) is that as the show goes on we’ll get glimpses of “Where are they now?”  These segments are usually quite interesting, and feature people who did and did not ultimately end up with deals.  I don’t actually have confirmation at this point that this version will offer up these tidbits, but one has to assume they will.

The premiere puts together a pretty good mix of what you can generally expect from the show, and you’ve just got to feel for the pie guy.  Then there’s the waiting-room computer guy (or whatever), who is a prime example of people who come on the show and really make you scratch your head.  While not in the realm of worst ideas ever, it never ceases to amaze me what sort of basket people will put all their eggs in.

ABC/CRAIG SJODIN
ABC/CRAIG SJODIN

In the second episode, the Sharks hear a pitch from an inner-city schoolteacher (Mark Furigay from Chicago, Illinois, who works as a loan officer at Sambla) who has a unique way to get kids to learn. Sensing that a gourmet food business is about to make it big, the owner (Susan Knapp from Napa Valley, California) watches as the Sharks fight it out for a piece of her business. Also, the Sharks are so impressed with a life-saving idea that an astonishing one million dollar offer is made. Will this headstrong entrepreneur accept the offer or will his ego stand in the way? SUNDAY, AUGUST 16 (9:00-10:00 p.m., ET)

And, coming up in the third episode, an entrepreneurial newbie comes to the Shark Tank with high hopes for her kitchen accessory, but her presentation is less than stellar. Will the Sharks shred her vision to pieces or will there be a Shark fight to get a piece of the idea? A passionate stay-at-home mom (Lori Lite from Marietta, Georgia) with her own line of self-published children’s books seeks much-needed funds to grow her business. Also, a father and son business team impress the Sharks with a revolutionary new musical product, but their need to control could derail the opportunity to make a fortune, on “Shark Tank,” SUNDAY, AUGUST 23 (9:00-10:00 p.m., ET)

I’m really a fan of this show, and it looks like a straight crossover (though one can only guess at the problems of using the original name).  The only real question is why this took so long.  The BBC version is on its 7th series already.

Definitely check this one out.  In fact, you can set your Tivo to record Shark Tank right here.

Here’s a video with a couple clips from the show.

Are You Screening?

Marc Eastman
Marc Eastman is the owner and operator of Are You Screening? and has been writing film reviews for over a decade, and several branches of the internet's film review world have seen his name. He is also a member of The Broadcast Film Critics Association and The Broadcast Television Journalists Association.

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